For years, a lot of prospective cricket fans stayed away from the game because they thought the matches lasted too long. They weren't wrong – in some major tests, the teams battled all day for five straight days.
Then, about a decade ago, Cricket Twenty20 was invented. It's played the same way as traditional cricket, but the matches only last about three hours – making them short enough to attract fans unwilling or unable to devote days at a time to following the contest. And, perhaps even more important, they're compact enough to easily fit into a TV broadcast schedule.
Cricket Twenty20 became a hit almost instantly, and has invigorated cricket around the globe.
India is one of cricket's real hotbeds, so it's no surprise that someone there would try to adapt the Cricket Twenty20 concept to golf.
Shiv Kapur, a golfer from India who played collegiately at Pursue and now plies his trade on the European Tour and Asian Tour, is masterminding the Pearls Golf Premier League. The league has created eight teams, and they have drafted tour players from around the globe to participate in a special tournament this weekend at the Aamby Valley Golf Course near in Mumbai, India.
The four-man teams will play day-night rounds of stroke play on Friday and Saturday followed by a final round of best ball on Sunday. To keep things moving, each round will consist of 14 holes instead of the regular 18 and the golfers will be penalized if they take more than 30 seconds between shots. The players will even wear team uniforms.
"For me, it is the slow and steady build-up to the dream that I have had for a franchise-based event in golf and now we are up and running," said Kapur. "The launch and the auction have set the stage and now it is for us, the players, to add to the show."
Each franchise selected its players in a Calcutta-style auction that is familiar to many golfers who have participated in pro-am parties. They spent a total of about $700,000, and the players will compete for a total purse of $400,000.
Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell was the hottest property in the auction, being bought for $61,000. Two-time major winner Angel Cabrera and 2011 British Open winner Darren Clarke went for $55,000 each. Former PGA Champions Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel also are participating.
It's a fascinating concept, and it fits right into golf's current push to try ideas that make the game faster and more fun. It'll be very interesting to see if it catches on – and if someday it makes its way over here to America. Personally, I'd like to see it.
Here are the teams:
Colombo 6's: Chiragh Kumar, Jason Knutzon (Australia), Simon Dyson (England), Mithun Perera (Sri Lanka).
Delhi Darts: Rahil Ganjee, Scott Barr (Australia), Johan Edfors (Sweden), Ajeetesh Sandhu.
Gujarat Underdawgs: Digvijay Singh, Jarmo Sandelin (Sweden), David Howell (England), Gaurav Ghei.
Maharashtra 59'ers: Shiv Kapur, Scott Hend (Australia), Angel Cabrera (Argentina), Ashok Kumar.
Shubhkamna Eagles: Anirban Lahiri, Daniel Chopra (Sweden), Michael Campbell (New Zealand), Shamim Khan.
Tamil Nadu Pullees: Himmat Rai, Siddikur (Bangladesh), Rich Beem (USA), Harendra Gupta.
Uttarakhand Lions: Shankar Das, Chapchai Nirat (Thailand), Darren Clarke (N Ireland), Mukesh Kumar.
Witalsee Punjab Lancers: Gaganjeet Bhullar, Thaworn Wiratchant (Thailand), Shaun Micheel (USA), Rashid Khan.
The Monterey Peninsula is absolutely one of the most picturesque spots in all of golf – not to mention all the world. But there's a little something extra to catch your eye as you gaze longingly upon the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this week.
Out there among the celebrity hackers and drop-dead scenery over the next four days, you'll no doubt notice a lot of people decked out in bright yellow bucket hats.
No, all those folks don't have the same retro fashion sense. Instead, they're all taking part in TaylorMade's newest promotion.
It's called ''One Bucket'' – meaning all you need to do is hit one bucket of balls with the new RocketBladez irons to be convinced of their quality. To drive the point home, TaylorMade has supplied its staff players plus a number of celebrities and amateurs with the buckets, which are emblazoned with the Twitter hashtag #onebucket along with the RocketBladez logo. The photo above shows Wayne Gretzy and Dustin Johnson modeling the hard-to-miss headwear.
TaylorMade is the master of this kind of eye-catching promotion. Remember last February, the company had its staff players wear white caps with a big heart on the front to show their ''driver love'' for the R11S driver.
A month later came the ''17'' campaign in which players wore caps and even shirts emblazoned with the number 17 to indicate the number of yards a golfer could gain by using a RocketBallz 3-wood. And earlier this year, we saw ''war paint'' on some of its players to promote the new R1 driver.
No doubt the "One Bucket" promotion will generate the kind of visibility that TaylorMade wants for its RocketBladez irons. And, hey, if you want a bucket hat of your own and can't make it out to Pebble (or the Joburg Open on the European Tour) this weekend, you can always buy your own right off the TaylorMade website.
For more on TaylorMade's new RocketBladez irons, click here.
Davis Love III plans to have an operation on Friday to deal with problems in his neck that have bothered him for more than a decade.
''I've been working around it and it's been a nagging thing for a long time, '' Love told the Golf Channel. ''The last three months it's been more than a nagging thing, it's just been a constant annoyance and needs to be fixed.''
The 20-time PGA Tour winner hopes to be putting again within five days of the surgery and chipping again after 10 days. He expects to be off the PGA Tour for a total of six to eight weeks to complete his recover and rehabilitation – but he believes the operation could alleviate his neck pain for as long as three to five years.
Love has been dealing with pain, numbness and diminished strength in and around his neck since 2000 as a result of spinal stenosis and joint bone spurs, and had to pull out of both this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and last week's Waste Management Phoenix Open. He said a visit to a doctor in Scottsdale last week for a third opinion cemented his decision to go ahead with the operation, which he likened to the 2011 procedure that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had.
Love said he considered holding off on the surgery until after the majors this season, but decided to go ahead. He got a cortisone shot in his neck last week, but still felt uncomfortable when he swung a club.
''It seems like the right time,'' Love told the Golf Channel. ''I wish I had done this five years ago.''
Pitchers and catchers are reporting to Major League Baseball camps, but Paula Creamer went through her own version of Spring Training this week.
With the beginning of her 2013 LPGA Tour season not scheduled for another couple of weeks, the Pink Panther decided to knock some of the rust off by playing in a Suncoast Ladies Series event this week. The 54-hole event kicked off on Monday, and this afternoon Creamer wrapped up an 11-stroke victory.
''The reason I played is I'm not going to Australia next week, and I wanted to get a scorecard in my hand and get a tournament under my belt before starting the LPGA season, '' Creamer told the Golf Channel. ''It was a good golf course,'' she said of host venue Orange Tree Golf Club in Orlando.
The 2013 LPGA Tour season begins next week at the the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. Creamer is planning to start her campaign the following week at the Honda LPGA Thailand event.
Creamer pocketed a check for $2,100 for her victory. She led by five after the second round, then closed with a 65 to establish her 11-shot victory margin.
Despite the beatdown, Creamer's presence was a positive for her young competitors, said Suncoast Ladies Series Director Scott Walker.
''It's nice to see a player of her stature in our event, '' he told the Golf Channel. ''It's good for the players who aren't as established to play with her and see how they compare.''