New golf event has a cricket twist

Pearls Golf Premier League jerseys
Courtesy of Pearls Golf Premier League
The jersey for the teams in the Pearls Golf Premier League resemble those worn in other sports such as cricket or rugby.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, February 07, 2013 | 11:08 p.m.

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.