WATCHING The Open Championship is always a wonderful reminder of just how good we have it in Australia when it comes to playing golf.
Summer in Scotland brought with it its usual share of cold wind and rain. Royal Troon was lashed for a large part of last week’s major as Australian golf fans watched from the comfort of the couch in the middle of winter - where conditions were similar, if not better for golf.
Yet, you grow accustomed to what you’re used to. Like every year, I hear a lot of golfers using the phrase “It’s too cold for golf”. Myself included.
But we’re told, particularly by those around the home of golf, that the game in its purest form is a battle against the golf course and the elements. Well, they would wouldn’t they? Scotland tends to have wee more elements than other places in the world.
I wonder what the mantra would have been if golf had originated in Queensland.
But it’s not just the weather that’s perfect for golf in Australia, we’ve got some bloody good golf courses.
Australia, almost as far from the home of golf as you can get, has nine of the world’s Top-100 golf courses. Quality, world-class golf courses.
A friend asked how Royal Troon compares to say, Barnbougle Dunes. Another golfing mate chuckled, assuming the question preposterous, “How could Barnbougle Dunes be better than a course hosting The Open?”
But as subjective the topic of ranking golf courses is, not many golfers who would disagree that Barnbougle Dunes is a ‘better’ golf course.
Indeed two of the world’s biggest golf magazines rated Barnbougle Dunes higher than the old course at Royal Troon along with a bunch of other Australian golf courses in their most recent world ranking lists.
Anyone who has played or at least attempted to play golf in a foreign country on a decent layout will soon realise you’re going to be paying some serious money for the privilege; as golf in most parts of the world is only for the privileged.
Trying to play on some great international golf courses is no easy task. Often impossible, unless you know a member.
Many of the world’s best golf courses are locked away behind closed gates and if visitors are permitted, you’ll be looking at one gigantic green fee; US$495 in the case of Pebble Beach for example. And you’ll still have to pay for a cart, and clubs if you don’t have them.
But you don’t even need to be playing the world’s best golf courses to appreciate what we’ve got down here.
Our golf landscape is a unique one. The weekly club competition is a foreign concept in much of the golfing world and one which not only suits our competitive nature but has shaped our new handicapping system.
Dress codes are relaxed at most golf courses to suit our climate and there would be only a handful of golf clubs where the floors are lined with eggshells. A far cry from a large percentage of clubs in the US for instance.
But it’s not even the club golfers who have it good in Australia.
Many Australian golf courses will welcome anyone to the game at any time and I’d argue some of our country courses, despite many under financial duress, are fabulous places to drop in on a road trip, or for junior golfers to grow up and learn the game. As a city living, weekend golfer, I yearn for a country golf club I could jump on to at any time and scoot around in under four hours, possibly three.
And I haven’t even mentioned who the world’s best male golfer is at the moment.
We’re a spoilt mob down here.
By all means, lock the clubs away for a short time until the temperatures are well above those at Troon again - possibly next week. But don’t forget how good we’ve got it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michael Green founded AussieGolfer.com.au - Australia's #1 golf blog - in 2007, is a member of The Australian Golf Writers Association and has covered some of Australia's biggest golf tournaments, including the Australian Open, the Presidents Cup and World Cup of Golf.
Michael began playing golf as a 10-year-old in Adelaide where his father introduced him to the game.
He has managed to maintain a single-figure handicap while studying, living and working abroad and keeping a close eye on his three children.
Michael has a PhD in Physics and when not writing about golf, he continues to work in medical research in Sydney.
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