The British Seniors Open was played at Royal Porthcawl the last week in July in atrocious weather conditions. A top-class field of the world’s best senior golfers played and the event had saturation television coverage and should have been one of the highlights of the golfing season with the chance to watch the best American and European senior Tour players in action playing one of the UK’S best links golf courses. Unfortunately, the weather was so bad that it became more a battle of survival than a golf tournament and only two players managed to finish under par at the end of the week. Bernhard Langer comfortably took home the first prize of nearly €267000 finishing 3 shots clear of Fred Couples. We watch as much golf as we can but gave up on this tournament as we couldn’t see any pleasure in watching players hack there way round a golf course in such dreadful conditions. For a while it was amusing to see these great players brought down to our level but were we going to get excited watching Nick Faldo struggle to make the cut at 14 over par when I can see that standard of golf every weekend at any course in the country? No, we weren’t.
In contrast, the Women’s British Open played at the magnificent Kingsbarns Golf Links last week also suffered from bad weather and as it’s a very tough golf course I expected that there would be some very high scores. The tournament organisers however did the sensible thing and brought the tees forward and put the pins in reasonably easy places something which regularly happens on the American ladies Tour and the winning score was 18 under par. This proved to be a tremendous advert for the Women’s game and I sat and watched a lot more of it than I expected too. Anytime you see players shooting 64 round such a great golf course it’s worth watching no matter how the course is set up.
If there is to be a lesson drawn from these two contrasting experiences, it’s that if golf wants to market itself to a wider audience and provide entertainment as well as top quality sport then make it attractive to watch. The women’s golf was enthralling with great approach shots to the pins and some brilliant putting whereas the Seniors was about as bad an advert for playing golf as it was possible to provide. To see men dressed in as many layers of waterproof clothing as they could find and huddling under umbrellas as they trudged up a fairway into driving rain and very strong winds hacking the ball a hundred yards at a time wouldn’t encourage anyone to take up the game. We understand that the golfing purist would see it as the ultimate challenge for a golfer taking on a great course and battling the elements but as a showpiece for golf it was pretty much a waste of time. How much better would it have been had the organisers accepted that the weather was against them and set up the course accordingly to give the players at least a chance of displaying their undoubted skill?