FEATURE: What if golf had a franchise format similar to Cricket’s The Hundred?
Cricket’s newest competition, The Hundred, recently witnessed a glitzy initial draft ahead of its inaugural 2020 season, and that got Matt Cooper wondering about what would happen if golf had a similar revolution.
In the grand tradition of franchise sport the exact details of the playing conditions are a little unclear, but 20 five-man teams, each with excruciating names, will be based in towns and cities across Britain and Ireland.
Three of the players must have local connections and then a high profile draft will allow for the selection of one European player and one worldwide star.
Liverpool Long Irons – a strong set-up playing out of Royal Birkdale and managed by Paul Eales includes Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Waring and Lee Slattery.
Belfast Backspinners – lots of star potential and a hint of geographical negligence as Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Michael Hoey come together at a venue to be confirmed.
Inverness Interlockers – an outfit that few would have predicted ahead of 2019, but the marketing men are excited about bringing world class sport to the region and Castle Stuart will be home for Robert MacIntyre, Russell Knox and Duncan Stewart.
Sheffield Sweet Spot – a powerful core of Matt Fitzpatrick and Danny Willett, supplemented by Jonathan ‘Jigger’ Thomson.
North London Niblicks – a bold trio of Matt Wallace, Andrew Johnston and Callum Shinkwin will be accommodated at The Grove and managed by Nick Faldo
Surrey Shotmakers – based at European Tour HQ Wentworth is the strong combination of Paul Casey, Ross Fisher and Francesco Molinari; the early bookmaker’s favourites.
Essex Eagles – The only (fair)way is Essex as Oliver Fisher, Richard McEvoy and Matthew Southgate team up.
Oxford Overlappers – by its very nature franchise sport requires some very loose definitions of geography and the name of this outfit even hints at the compromise required to shoe-horn Tyrell Hatton, Eddie Pepperell and Luke Donald into the competition.
Shrewsbury Sand Saves – eyebrows were raised by the announcement of this team, but it reflects the long-term success of an unheralded corner of British golf, as evidenced by the legendary status of joint managers Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle. Aaron Rai, Ashley Chesters and Oli Farr, once county team-mates, are reunited for the Sand Saves.
Fife Fade – room is made for a team from the home of golf and it includes the left-field option of Dundee resident, and recent Dunhill Links winner, Victor Perez. Calum Hill and Conor Syme join him.
Birmingham Bunkers – Andy Sullivan, Robert Rock, Richard Mansell
Nottingham Nassau – Lee Westwood, Oliver Wilson, Mark Foster
Bristol Bump & Run – Jordan Smith, Chris Wood, Laurie Canter
Manchester Mashies – Dave Horsey, Sam Horsfield, Jamie Donaldson
Cardiff Cut Shot – Bradley Dredge, Stuart Manley, Rhys Enoch
Glasgow Groove – Scott Jamieson, Ewen Ferguson, Marc Warren
Edinburgh Etiquette – Richie Ramsay, Grant Forrest, Stephen Gallacher
Dublin Drive – Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan, Padraig Harrington
Southampton Scramble – Richard Bland, Jack Singh Brar, Ben Stow
Newcastle 9-iron – Chris Paisley, Graeme Storm, Robert Dinwiddie
Some of the biggest names in the sport have put their names forward for what is already being called “the new Twenty20”, overlooking that The Hundred is genuinely the new Twenty20.
Also note that teams are forced to make canny acquisitions because only one of their picks can come from inside the world’s top 50.
Leading draft contenders from the top 50
Worldwide – Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler
Europe – Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Henrik Stenson
Leading draft contenders from outside the top 50
Worldwide – Haotong Li, Erik Van Rooyen, Jazz Janewattananond, Jason Kokrak, Corey Conners, Cameron Champ
Europe – Alex Noren, Lucas Bjerregaard, Andrea Pavan, Thomas Pieters, Mike Lorenzo-Vera
How would your line-ups look like in Matt’s format? And what would your matchplay rules be? Be sure to let us know!
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