Golf Canada April 2014 : Page 44

INSIDE THE ROPES GaME CHanGERS DECONSTRUCTED RIPPED LINKS REINVENTS GOLF AS AN AUDACIOUS ACTION SPORT By MIKE doJC GOLF @Mikedojc B arstool brainstorming has played a role in the inception of everything from the Marine Corps to Southwest Airlines, so golf’s wild new incarnation is in good company. Three years ago Colin Weston and Philip Davis, a pair of middle-aged architects with handicaps in the high teens, were hunkered down in a Vancouver sports bar in the dead of winter when they hatched a disruptive idea aimed squarely at the coveted 18-36 year-old golfer demographic. Like the majority of patrons in the establishment, they were tuned into a hockey game. During lulls in the rather uneventful contest, they found their attention drifting to the action playing out on several adjacent screens including the NFL playoffs, a PGA Tour event and a flurry of action sports. Despite being fans of a good walk spoiled, the pitching and putting took a firm back seat to the higher-octane imagery on display, in particular a downhill ice cross event. For the uninitiated the frosty adrenaline rush, best known as Crashed Ice, is a new-fangled spectacle where elbow-to-elbow skaters decked out in hockey gear blaze down a twisting and plummeting ice track. “I looked at Crashed Ice and said to Philip wouldn’t it be cool if golf looked like that, played at night with thousands of fans screaming, a DJ spinning and an announcer?” reminisces Weston. “[We can] get rid of the ice and drop in a triangulated par-3, three-hole golf course.” Davis was in full agreement and so Ripped Links was born. Both architects grabbed napkins and began to sketch furiously. Back-of-the-cocktail-napkin plans always seem brilliant mid-scribble but this idea passed the pivotal "does-it-still-look-great-the-next-morning?" test. Ripped Links shake ‘n bakes golf's orthodoxy and brings Gen Y into the fold by pouring rocket fuel on the game’s pace of play while lending action sport cachet to the grand old game. Holes are set up in a non-traditional environment like a beach, with golfers hitting off elevated platforms and then zip-lining over the crowd on down to the green to putt and play the hole out. Rinse and repeat a couple more times from different platforms and call it a round. The speedy conveyance from tee to green is solely 44 Golf Canada APRIL 2014

Ripped Links

Mike Dojc

GOLF DECONSTRUCTED

RIPPED LINKS REINVENTS GOLF AS AN AUDACIOUS ACTION SPORT

Barstool brainstorming has played a role in the inception of everything from the Marine Corps to Southwest Airlines, so golf’s wild new incarnation is in good company. Three years ago Colin Weston and Philip Davis, a pair of middle-aged architects with handicaps in the high teens, were hunkered down in a Vancouver sports bar in the dead of winter when they hatched a disruptive idea aimed squarely at the coveted 18-36 year-old golfer demographic.

Like the majority of patrons in the establishment, they were tuned into a hockey game. During lulls in the rather uneventful contest, they found their attention drifting to the action playing out on several adjacent screens including the NFL playoffs, a PGA Tour event and a flurry of action sports. Despite being fans of a good walk spoiled, the pitching and putting took a firm back seat to the higher-octane imagery on display, in particular a downhill ice cross event. For the uninitiated the frosty adrenaline rush, best known as Crashed Ice, is a new-fangled spectacle where elbow-toelbow Skaters decked out in hockey gear blaze down a twisting and plummeting ice track.

“I looked at Crashed Ice and said to Philip wouldn’t it be cool if golf looked like that, played at night with thousands of fans screaming, a DJ spinning and an announcer?” reminisces Weston. “[We can] get rid of the ice and drop in a triangulated par-3, three-hole golf course.”

Davis was in full agreement and so Ripped Links was born. Both architects grabbed napkins and began to sketch furiously. Back-of-the-cocktail-napkin plans always seem brilliant mid-scribble but this Idea passed the pivotal "does-it-still-lookgreat- the-next-morning?" Test.

Ripped Links shake ‘n bakes golf's orthodoxy and brings Gen Y into the fold by pouring rocket fuel on the game’s pace of play while lending action sport cachet to the grand old game. Holes are set up in a non-traditional environment like a beach, with golfers hitting off elevated platforms and then zip-lining over the crowd on down to the green to putt and play the hole out. Rinse and repeat a couple more times from different platforms and call it a round. The speedy conveyance from tee to green is solely To heighten the energy of the experience and doesn’t affect the scoring system.

“The quality of golf is paramount. We are not doing mini-golf on steroids. There are no loopy-loops or giant windmills to hit through. This is pure ball-striking and the best players will ultimately win,” explains Weston.

A three-club game, Ripped Links distances max out around 150 yards. As a total short game test, women will compete directly against men, adding a battle of the sexes dimension to every event. Borrowing the session format common in surfing and skateboarding, once the green is cleared the next group or wave of golfers tees off to keep the action moving at a brisk clip with breaks kept to a bare minimum. During simulations they’ve gotten through one session of three groups in less than 90 minutes. Competition will be played out over a two-day weekend event. A 27-golfer field on the Saturday gets cut to the top nine for play on Sunday.

Forbidden Fairways

Whenever golf is transplanted into an non-traditional environment fan excitement levels tend to spike, whether it is Tiger and Rory hamming it up in a Nike commercial pretending to hole distant soup bowls and wine glasses or real-life attempts at sticking outlandish targets. A couple of years back Keegan Bradley sent a handful of specially designed floating golf balls soaring off the flight deck of the USS Yorktown toward a target in Charleston harbor. Last year Tiger Woods created quite a stir by stopping commuter traffic in order to hit a mighty lash off of Istanbul’s iconic Bosphorus Bridge. The shot successfully made the transcontinental journey from Europe to Asia.

During Davis and Weston’s research phase they were most heartened by a one-off display in Dallas pitting Rickie Fowler against Colt Knost. The buzz surrounding this closest to the pin contest played out over pavement and concrete onto a custom-made Texas-shaped green right outside the American Airlines Center let them know they were on the right track.

“We could see there was an appetite for this sort of thing but no one had put all the pieces together to create a competitive format that could be turned into a tour,” explains Weston.

The plan is to beta-test the fledgling sport with a couple of demonstration events this summer followed up by a multi-city tour in 2015.

Gotta see it to believe it? Visit
rippedlinks.com

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Ripped+Links+/1672751/202561/article.html.

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