Golf blog: lessons to learn from Australian Open

What does one do when the temperature gauge reads -28 degrees centigrade outside? Well, in New Brunswick, Canada the locals don their thermals and ski ‘pants’ and take a walk on the river. This is not a typo – the river is sufficiently frozen to drive (by car) across 1.5 Km expanse of water. I digress – this particularly Brit thoroughly enjoyed the walk on water the day before but on this particular morning the temperature had dropped sufficiently for me to decline my in-laws’ invitation for a stroll and instead I decided that watching a replay of the Australian Open from the comfort of a reclining armchair and an ice cold beer was a far better option.

What a golf tournament! It was great to see Rory “strutting” once more and looking like the superstar we all admire with perhaps just a hint of envy. Playing alongside Rory was Adam Scott who surely has the best swing in the game today competing for a hat-trick of Aussie wins and the coveted title of Australian Open Champion. Two superstars with classy swings going head to head at the peak of their powers was always going to be good viewing but apart from the superstars what really made this tournament so much more exciting than so many end of season, humdrum tournaments with massively over inflated prize money (the World Cup comes to mind – what was that all about?!) was:

1. Crowds! Remember those? I grew up in my late teens watching thousands of fans cheering on golf’s elite, creating a terrific atmosphere and without doubt making TV viewing more compelling. Cast your mind back to dear Seve on the 17th at Wentworth, in the 90s if I recall. Surrounded by crowds, Seve turned to a spectator and said something like “I know you nervous but I nervous too, would you mind keeping still please”. Of course only the legend could deliver a line so inoffensively but that interaction with the crowd, the theatre of the moment really brought the action to life and the drama of the moment into your living room. Moments like that rarely happen now. As a result, I often find myself heading out of the house or switching over for something more exciting (like repeats of Come Dine with me) which has to be a worrying sign for golf appealing to todays kids and the stars of the future.

2. Golf Course! A classic golf course, for once not a ridiculously long slog (Tournament organisers take note) but wonderfully set-up to test a players all round shot making ability. A first-class test of golf where the cream rose to the top instead of a “smash and putt” fest which is so often served up to the arm chair spectator.

I do understand the economics of the European Tour schedule visiting the far corners of the world but so many “premium” events lack real golf fans cheering on their heroes and appreciating a player’s talent. Add to the mix yet another drab resort course funded by a real estate developer or tourist board trying to lure traveling golfers to “the next best destination” and you have a pretty dull cocktail for the TV golf fan.

Maybe I am just getting a little older and perhaps a little grumpy but I want to see more European Tour events back in the UK. An event in “The Final Series” should be in mainland Europe, preferably England on a well designed course or classic links with crowds… lots of them. In the wake of The Ashes debacle it is hard to give the Aussies yet more credit but calling all sponsors out there – watch the final round, take note, drum up the cash and lets have worthwhile/worth watching tournament in “The Final Series”. You never know we may just inspire our future stars to take up golf instead of taking virtual animals for walks on iPads.

Yours in the best interests of UK Golf,

A somewhat grumpy Norris

About me:

Career earnings as a PGA Professional of
£328.75 were never quite going to make the grade but my love of golf is
as intense as ever. MD of Jenahura, Marketing Director of Bearwood
Lakes. Passionate for; life, my wife Lisa, Mum & Dad, a wonderfully
diverse array of Friends & Family, a cold beer, fine food, fine
wines, traveling the world, sport and music.