A new short-format golf tournament is set to be launched in Australia next year with a view to broadening the sport's audience.
The Ultra Golf Championship (UGC), sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia, will debut in December 2023, with teams competing over nine holes rather than the traditional 18.
There will be 10 city-based teams of four from around the world competing for the inaugural title, each with a marquee captain. A total of 74 matches will be played over four days, with the teams split into pairs and playing seven 'minor rounds', a third-place playoff, and a grand final.
While no professional players have been linked to the tournament, it has been reported that high-profile players are being approached.
The 10 teams competing will be the Bangkok Blades, Delhi Drivers, Dubai Kings, London Lasers, Los Angeles Eagles, New York Tigers, Melbourne Rockets, Shanghai Jets, Seoul Condors, and Tokyo Royals.
The concept, modeled on cricket’s Indian Premier League T20 format, was created by Australian businessman and UGC found Deke Smith. The PGA of Australia will be the tournament’s promoting partner and sanctioning body through the PGA Tour of Australasia.
The scoring system is a major departure from traditional stroke play, with teams given 10 points for a hole-in-one, eight for an albatross, six for an eagle, four for a bridie, and two for a part.
There will also be four feature hole opportunities where teams can earn extra points for the longest drive or double points for winning a nominated ‘power-play’ hole.
Organizers have yet to fix dates and venues for the tournament, as well as prize money and broadcast arrangements.
Smith said: “For more than five years, we’ve been working on the UGC as a short-formed, strategic, and tactical golf tournament.
“We are appealing to a wider fanbase, giving people a new way to consume their golf, sport, and entertainment, and we think that it’s a great way to grow the game of golf.
“We see this concept appealing to a younger audience because we will see a result in two hours of golf. We see parochial sports fans getting behind their own city team.
“It’s taken us some time to get to this point, but we couldn’t be more excited about what is to come. We think it’s something that golf needs in this country and we’re excited to be delivering it.”
Nick Dastey, tournaments director at the PGA Tour of Australasia, added: “This is an event we are passionate about, and it continues to align with our innovation in the game in Australia.
“We know once this world-first format has some of the best players in the world showcasing it on TV next year, Ultra Golf Championship will become a part of all golf fans’ life through both professional and amateur golf.”
The new tournament comes as world golf looks to modernize itself following the launch of the Saudi-backed LIV series, which has lured away many of the sport’s biggest names from the established US and European tours by offering huge prize purses for 54-hole events.
The UGC is geared towards Asian markets, with seven of the 10 teams coming from that region.
Earlier this year, TMRW Sports, the new venture launched by golf stars Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, announced plans to launch TGL, a new tech-infused stadium golf league in partnership with the PGA Tour.
The league, which has already secured major golf champions, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas, is set to debut in January 2024 with six teams of three PGA Tour players and will “showcase team matches fusing advanced tech and live action from a custom-built venue in primetime.”