THERE’S an old saying that you get out of things what you put into them. Being a golf fan falls into this category.
For most of us, professional golf is a sport viewed mostly through the prism of television which, ironically, might be about the worst way imaginable to experience the game.
While technology constantly improves the television viewing experience, the fact is that its two-dimensional version of golf doesn’t begin to do the game justice.
Microphones pick up the sound of Adam Scott striking a 5-iron but it can’t compare to what you hear standing next to the man himself.
Graphics can lay out the distance to the green as Jordan Spieth stands over his ball but from directly behind him, the appreciation of what he actually faces takes on another dimension.
And for all the clever tricks developed to illustrate on screen how a putt will break, there is nothing like seeing with your own eyes the movement of the land that will take the ball on its journey to the hole.
None of which is to disparage television or the fantastic job it does in covering the game.
Week in and week out golf fans are treated to world class broadcasts from all corners of the globe, allowing us to keep up with the game’s biggest stars.
But it has its limitations and, starting at next week’s NSW Open, Australian fans are about to get our annual chance to see what professional golf looks like in the flesh.
And it’s something worth making an effort for.
ADAM SCOTT EXCITED FOR THE SUMMER OF GOLF:
Three of the four main events to be played on these shores between now and Christmas will be televised which, for those unable to attend, is a godsend.
But if you live in or near Sydney, Melbourne or the Gold Coast, do yourself a favour and make the effort to head to the course to watch some of the action first hand.
As we are every year we will be blessed with the presence of some of the game’s finest players over the coming summer and, for most of us, this will be our only opportunity to say we saw them up close.
At Stonecutters Ridge in Sydney next week a strong, though not particularly high profile, field will gather to battle for the Kel Nagle Cup but one player, in particular, will stand out.
Canadian former World Long Drive champion Jamie Sadlowski plays the first of back to back weeks in Sydney and his is a talent that really can’t be appreciated on TV.
Sadlowski has a personal best drive of more than 400 metres and hits his 2-iron close to 270 metres.
It is safe to say only a tiny proportion of golfers have seen anything like that in the flesh and if you’re a genuine fan of the game, his presence represents a unique opportunity indeed.
Sadlowski’s talent is both rare and raw but with Adam Scott and Jordan Spieth headlining the following week’s Australian Open at Royal Sydney golfing purists will be in heaven.
Both former US Masters champions, Scott possesses perhaps the most elegant action of the modern era, pretty on TV but a thing of genuine beauty when seen in the flesh.
Spieth has a less attractive golf swing than Scott but a more disciplined mind for the game might be difficult to find.
JORDAN SPIETH TALKS ABOUT THE SWING THOUGHTS HE TAKES ON TO THE COURSE:
What he lacks in length (which is not as much as many think) the two-time major winner makes up for in mental strength and attitude and any aspiring young player would do well to follow him for 18 holes.
From Royal Sydney the travelling circus moves to Melbourne for the unique World Cup of Golf at Kingston Heath.
If the constant diet of 72-hole strokeplay that makes up the bulk of professional golf occasionally gets you down, this is the tournament for you.
Two-man teams representing 28 countries playing two days of four ball and two days of foursomes; a refreshing change indeed, and all on one of the world’s great golf courses.
Scott will again be in the field, teaming with Marc Leishman to fly the Australian flag, but this tournament will be as much about seeing some of the rising stars of the game as the big names.
Rickie Fowler and reigning PGA Champion Jimmy Walker will represent the US while Masters Champion Danny Willett will team with Lee Westwood for England.
Japan’s first WGC winner, Hideki Matsuyama, will team with Ryo Ishikawa and three-time 2016 European Tour winner Alex Noren joins countryman David Lingmerth.
But the real reward for making the effort to travel to Kingston Heath is to be found in some of the lesser known names.
Spain’s Jon Rahm is tipped by most analysts to be a future superstar of the game and he joins Rafa Cabrera-Bello for the week.
Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo has already won on the PGA Tour and is set to be a top 10 player in the world while Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat is fast becoming one of the game’s great characters.
If and when any of these players might return to these shores is an unknown and the opportunity to see them now, and perhaps one day tell your grandchildren about it, is one not to be missed.
From Melbourne the Tour moves to the Gold Coast for the only European Tour co-sanctioned event of the Australian summer, the Australian PGA Championship.
Queensland fans will be pleased to hear Adam Scott will be teeing up at Royal Pines but there will be plenty of other intriguing players on hand, too.
Olympians Marcus Fraser and Scott Hend , both European Tour regulars, are in the field as is history-making US Amateur champion Curtis Luck.
Add in a strong international presence from the European Tour and the tournament is guaranteed to once again boast top notch golf.
While all of this compelling golf will be available to watch on TV from the comfort of your couch don’t be tempted to limit yourself to just that.
A day at the golf is a spectating experience no other sport can match.
If you’re a golf fan, make sure you grab the opportunity while you can.
Photo: Justin Falconer
THE WEEK IN GOLF GOES BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE WORLD CUP OF GOLF: