Never will Rafael Nadal stand opposite a club player from country Victoria or Mitchell Starc send down a bouncer to a 45-year-old accountant who plays at the weekend in his district B Grade comp.
But in golf, that is exactly what happens every week, on every tour, in every corner of the world.
It’s a fair bet that any tournament played for a purse (the game’s majors aside) will reward those putting up the cash by allowing them to step inside the ropes and compare their games to the pros.
At this week’s Vic Open on the Bellarine Peninsula I was fortunate to be offered a spot in the pro-am and came away with the same impression I did the three previous times I played with a pro: this is the most underrated selling tool golf has.
Paired with two other media types and English professional Felicity Johnson (or Flic, as those of us in the inner circle call her), 18 holes on 13th Beach’s Creek Course could hardly have been more fun.
Felicity Johnson in action during today's first round of the Vic Open at 13th Beach. (Photo: Ladies European Tour)
Firstly, for a golf nerd, the opportunity to see that level of talent up close is a real treat. Even in the hit and giggle arena of a pro-am, the skills on display are impressive. (We calculated Felicity had four or five birdies for the round though, as she pointed out, it sounds even better to suggest it might have even been six.)
More importantly, though, is the chance to chat in an environment far more relaxed than a formal interview about stuff that we almost never get to talk to the players about.
Everything from how they got started in the game to the state of the professional Tours to life on the road, four plus hours in the office of a touring pro gives one a rare glimpse into everything we don’t see as spectators.
More importantly than all of that, though, is the direct connection the experience creates between the player and the fan.
Just like the hundreds of other recreational duffers who have had the pleasure of Felicity’s company in the countless pro-ams she’s played around the world, I will now take a direct interest in her results in every tournament she plays.
And that scenario will be recreated for every amateur partner of every pro who teed up at the Creek and Beach Courses yesterday.
The same is true for all those in Arizona and Malaysia playing alongside the Phoenix Open and Maybank Championship fields as well as the smaller pro-am events around Australia every week.
The pro-am is an experience unique to golf and one I would recommend every golfer try to be a part of at least once in their life.
It will give you a new appreciation for the game and those who play it for a living.
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