Moving days ahead for golf
For the first time in well over a decade, golf has a swagger about it in Australia. The golfing world has had its collective eyes on Sydney and Melbourne in the last fortnight and Australia’s golf administrators have to seize the momentum.
This week has given golf in this country, a chance for the sport to elevate itself to the world. Since the Middle East and Asia came to golf with fans and cash, Australia’s golf tournaments have suffered despite being a cradle for the game.
The Jacobs Creek Open, ANZ Championship, Heineken Classic and Johnnie Walker Classic have disappeared, while the Australian Open and Australian Masters have struggled for relevancy and sponsorship in the GFC world.
But just when it seemed the malaise would continue, the Presidents Cup and the appearances of Tiger Woods have reinvigorated life into the Australasian PGA Tour. It is now time the tour struck the flaming hot iron.
What golf can’t do, is go back to the days of many tournaments with big prize money because it just can’t work. Australian golf doesn’t have the time or resources to support lots of tournaments.
What golf does have in this country is the Open, Masters and PGA, which the Australasian PGA Tour should build the Tour’s anticipation and credibility around.
Also there is the New Zealand Open and potentially a Perth event, if the politics can be overcome.
Give them adequate prize money and consolidate the dates to November and/or February, when there is a sporting void.
The Australasian PGA Tour should use the huge ace we have in our deck to market our tournaments; that ace is our fantastic tournament golf courses.
In an era where courses are designed for low scores, our golf courses are some of the best in the world. They make golfers think and reward them for good shots, but punish them for bad shots.
Tiger Woods was heard to quip at the Presidents Cup that he wishes golfers played on courses like this all the time.
Put these two together and suddenly, golf in Australia can be marketed to the world.
Imagine this, the “Australasian Summer Swing” starts with the time-honoured Australian Open, whose past champions include Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.
The swing moves to the Australian Masters, played around the Melbourne Sandbelt at arguably the best courses in the world.
A sojourn across the ditch to New Zealand is then followed up by the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum, where good scores can be made.
Sounds good doesn’t it?
While we will never have the golfing world exclusively at our feet again, three of four quality tournaments here in Australasia can make the difference.
The Presidents Cup crowds have shown there is an appetite for the sport in Australia; golf administrators should feed the hunger not in unsatisfying nibbles but in a few big meals.