Andrew 'Beef' Johnston was involved in the one-hole event.
Watford - An enthusiastic crowd of more than 2,000 turned up at The Grove course
Out went traditional golfing protocol and in came flashing lights and razzmatazz as the European Tour launched the innovative Hero Challenge one-hole knockout event ahead of this week's British Masters.
An enthusiastic crowd of more than 2,000 turned up at The Grove course on Tuesday night to watch former world number one and tournament host Luke Donald lead an eight-man professional line-up.
A floodlit par-three hole, featuring a specially constructed tee where the players made their entrances to a noisy welcome from the fans and dazzling pyrotechnics up ahead on the green, was the stage for a contest won by French pro Alexander Levy. "It's terrific, it's under lights, who would have thought it?," tour chief executive Keith Pelley told Reuters in an interview as he surveyed the scene on the outskirts of London."It's pretty exciting and it's definitely a chance to be a little more innovative, try things a little bit different.
"What's really rewarding to see is the incredible fan engagement with the players, every player with a smile on his face and having a great time," said Pelley. "It's much bigger than we would ever have anticipated and I think the players are equally surprised."
With officials around the world worried about slow play and a declining interest in golf, Pelley also announced plans earlier this year for a new six-hole event incorporating a shot clock, music, different clothes and fewer clubs in an effort to attract more followers. The Canadian, who took over as chief executive from George O'Grady just over a year ago, recognises the need for the sport to move with the times, and the Hero Challenge could be the tour's answer to the Twenty20 format that has revolutionised cricket in recent years.
"It shows the players in a different light... which leads to people experiencing the game differently," said Pelley of an event televised live by Sky Sports. "This will not replace the traditional game and that's not the purpose.
England's Andy Sullivan and Andrew 'Beef' Johnston, Shane Lowry of Ireland, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger and Indian Jeev Milkha Singh were also involved in the one-hole event.
"We had a great turnout," said Donald. The 72-hole British Masters starts on Thursday. - Reuters