The Masters is an anachronistic law unto itself. It may simply be quirky to call spectators patrons and showing live TV coverage of a par three tournament is just about understandable, assuming that you are not one of the unfortunate commentators who has to find something interesting to say about cloyingly sweet children, smouldering-looking wives and girlfriends or stars from the screen and music world not simply content to carry a bag in their Augusta white and green overalls but also invariably attempting a shot or trying to hole a six inch putt to wild applause.
What is far more hard to take is that no golf is shown in the mornings on television and 18 holes are only screened at the weekend, so much of the early drama is missed as desperate overseas broadcasters fill air time with all kinds of platitudinous hokum about what might happen rather than being able to show us what is happening.
However the likelihood of the venerable guardians of Augusta’s arcane heritage changing things in order to extend invitations or suggest that some of the very old men who routinely turn up each year with no chance of winning are zero. So we must look elsewhere as golf as envisaged by Walt Disney continues unchallenged in the State of Georgia.
The US Open is a genuine national championship routinely fought over ever longer and increasingly tough courses and the plan this year is to make things even more difficult by asking the competitors to tee up on slopes. USGA executive director, Mike Davis, announced, ‘There may be some [tees] where we give the players a little downhill slope, a little uphill slope, a side slope. So that’s interesting.’
No it isn’t interesting Mike, it’s just plain daft. If you want players not to be able to hit the ball so far then change the compression of the ball. Yet for all this idiocy at least, unlike Augusta, we can enjoy all the drama as it unfolds; which brings us to the PGA tournament.
The US Open was the brainchild of the United States Golf Association, the first formal golf association in the country responsible for the game generally as the Royal & Ancient is in the UK. It creates and administers the rules of golf in the USA whereas the PGA is a body formed in 1916, some 22 years after the USGA, and is the association of all US-based golf professionals that initially received backing from wealthy New York department store owner, Rodman Wanamaker, which explains the name of the trophy played for annually.
It is the PGA tournament that would most naturally lend itself to be played somewhere outside the USA and, indeed, PGA of America chief executive, Pete Bevacqua, told Golf Digest magazine that it was something the association was considering although stressed, ‘It would be something we would only do if we had the co-operation of quite a few groups. It would need to work for the PGA Tour and it would need to work for the PGA Tour players. Another would be the PGA in the particular area we would consider. We would want the international PGAs to be a part of this and share in this. Many pieces would have to fall in place.’
With the dramatic increase in numbers playing golf in the far east would it not make sense to take the PGA to China or Australia thus creating a huge opportunity for world class field to compete for a ‘major’ rather than the top players having to be paid massive appearance fees simply to show up for lesser contests?
There is also no reason why the PGA could not bring its show to the UK and Ireland to play one of the splendid alternative courses that the conservative Open Championship committee seems reluctant to provide a firm date for. This would certainly chime in well given the number of Americans who visit Ireland each year for both golf and the quest for long dead relatives.
It was surely not coincidental that the R&A announced its consideration of Royal Portrush soon after Bevacqua’s interview, although infrastructure works still need to be brought up to standard before a firm date is given. At this stage Portrush is slated for 2019 or later.
Bringing NFL (National Football League) games to play in London has proved hugely successful with American Football fans in the UK. In terms of audience appeal and revenue generation taking the PGA championship on the road would make equally solid sense.