The Globalisation of Golf?
Golf is the most global sport. It is played in nearly every country in the world; its professional tournaments are contended in every continent and, unlike soccer, the Americans are pretty darn good at it. This makes for the highest profile intercontinental competition of all – the Ryder cup – whose power over the emotions of millions of transatlantic spectators is so great that it constitutes the only fortnight in a two-and-a-half year cycle that all Britons are happy to call themselves ‘European’. Its so linked to a global view, in fact, that holidays are often built around it and even travel insurance is available which gives you a cash payout for a hole-in-one.
Which is why it is a shame that the USA hosts three of the world’s four golf majors. Only the dear old Open Championship (won so memorably last month by Padraig Harrington in Carnoustie) lies outside of the States. The USPGA, won by Tiger Woods this week, is the fourth in the cycle, but of the three American tournaments, I think it should be the one to swap continents.
The Masters, of course, must remain forever at Augusta: the beautiful course, so well etched into the imaginations of any amateur golfer, with its history and traditions (such as the Green Jacket), must forever host the year’s first major. And the US Open – historically set-up to be the toughest on the calendar with winning scores often above par – can keep rotating around America to provide the toughest test in Golf. But the USPGA hasn’t got the same history or reputation. So why not move it to another continent – or rotate it round two or three – to give this global game a global dimension at the very highest level? Europe has some of the best courses on the planet, but has never hosted a major. Asia boasts the fastest-growing golf industry in the world. And lets not overlook Africa, Australia or South America either, whose great players (Els, Goosen, Norman, Ogilvy, Cabrera) have graced our screens for decades.
I watched the denouement of the USPGA last week on telly; but I’d rather it had had Table mountain or the Med in the background shots.