Aussie Golfer: The lure of tournament golf

THERE is something inspirational about watching the best golfers play on great courses.

MY earliest memory of attending tournament golf is trying to catch a glimpse of Greg Norman through a cardboard periscope.

They could be purchased so golf fans could still get a good view of the action, even if you weren’t up against the ropes.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s when The Shark swam into town, golf fans would turn out in droves which meant it wasn’t always easy to see him play a shot.

And for a 10-year-old kid, four or five people deep, it was almost impossible - which is why those periscopes (mine was plastered with West End logos), were so important.

Just like those of us who would annually spend a summer day or two at the cricket, it began a tradition that holds so many great memories of summer days at the golf.

Then, like now, it still has a huge influence on our love of the game.


Thanks to my father who took me along, I can proudly say that I saw some of golf’s greatest players when they came to Australian shores.

As well as seeing the incredible sight of Greg Norman smash the golf ball with his trusty persimmon driver, I saw the likes of Nick Price, David Graham, Nick Faldo and Gary Player play shots just metres away from me.

Occasionally I saw them play shots through the periscope a little further back.

But it was more than just seeing the best golfers in the world up close. It was a love for the atmosphere of tournament golf.

There is no doubt that giving kids the opportunity to watch the world’s best golfers on TV or to introduce them to the world of professional tournament golf can inspire them to take up the game for life.

But don’t forget the impact it can have on us weekend hackers as well.

While my age has drifted further and further past my handicap and I no longer require the periscope, the atmosphere at tournament golf is still just as enthralling.

Tiger Woods’ appearance at the Australian Masters in 2009 was sheer madness and completely unforgettable.

The buzz around the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in 2011 was incredible and those of us there to watch Jordan Spieth’s majestic, flawless final round to win the Australian Open in 2014 will never forget it.

And that’s just to name a few; I haven’t even mentioned some of John Daly’s on-course adventures in Australia.

And a lot can be learned watching the pros up close. As well as being a good reminder to make sure you have enough golf balls in your bag, the sight of an effortless short swing and a majestic short-game makes it all look so easy and will have you wondering why you only got 28 points in last week’s Saturday comp.

The tournament village at the golf will forever be one of my favourite places at any sporting event.

Resembling a classic English beer garden (albeit with more sun), the village always has a great vibe to it as golf fans eat, drink and chat while watching the coverage on the big screen.

You won’t see a golf conversation get shut down in the village like it might back at home.

I’d argue that seeing the state of a tournament golf course is almost worth the price of admission alone.

Carpeted fairways and blemish-free greens is a treat to see. It always leaves me with the gigantic delusion that I, too, could play flawless golf on a course this perfect with no dodgy lies, divots and imperfections.

Royal Sydney, host of this week’s Emirates Australian Open, is in absolute mint condition and begins a three-week stretch of big Australian golf tournaments.

The World Cup of Golf tees off at Kingston Heath in Melbourne next week, followed by the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast the week after.

All three events are being shown on free-to-air TV but, if you can, get along and experience big-time tournament golf for yourself.

You’ll be itching to play again before you’ve left the gates and you’ll be able to say you’ve seen some of the world’s best golfers play, such as Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth, without the need for a periscope.



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