There was some remarkable golf played on the world’s Tours at the weekend. Jon Rahm’s charging finish to claim a second Irish Open title, the stunning play of rookie Matthew Wolff to win in Minnesota and the birdie fest that was the LPGA event in Wisconsin weren’t short on entertainment.
And thanks to the wonders of modern technology we were able to watch pretty much all of it, in full HD, live and from the comfort of our lounge rooms. Despite being on the opposite side of the world.
(Which, by the way, still freaks me out a little bit. How do the pictures get from one side of the world to the other? In real time? But I digress …)
As wonderful as TV is, there is something lacking when one watches golf via a screen. Even a giant, 4K, OLED, HD screen with a billion colours and the blackest blacks.
Like eating fast food, you get your fill but somehow never quite feel satisfied. It’s better than not seeing it, but nothing like being there.
The reality of top-flight golf is that it is entertainment best served live. The real tragedy of the dearth of big-time tournaments in Australia is not so much the lack of opportunities for our home-grown pros, though that is a legitimate concern.
It is as much about the fans who might never get to see – or perhaps more importantly, hear – what proper golf is.
We all know what weekend warrior golf looks and sounds like. It encompasses everything from the ugly thud of the fat iron to the unmistakable ‘click’ of the leading edge clattering into the equator of the ball.
So rarely is the club golfer exposed to the muted ‘thwack’ of a genuinely compressed ball that we’re liable not to recognise it when it does happen.
“As wonderful as TV is, there is something lacking when one watches golf via a screen … Like eating fast food, you get your fill but somehow never quite feel satisfied. It’s better than not seeing it, but nothing like being there.”
At a professional tournament, though, it is almost exclusively the sound you will hear.
Combine this with one of life’s great joys – standing directly behind a proper golfer and getting to see the flight of the ball – and you have golf heaven.
One of the reasons the Vic Open is the best tournament in Australia (as opposed to the most important) is because of the lack of gallery ropes.
Fans are free to wander the fairways and take up positions directly behind as the players go about their business.
This is unique in Australian – and possibly world – golf, but it is reason enough to make the trip to the Bellarine Peninsula at least once no matter where you live.
It is all but guaranteed you will see a handful of shots that would look ho-hum on television but will forever be etched in your memory having experienced them live.
I can attest to this phenomenon because a personal favourite golf memory came at the Vic Open two years ago.
Locked in a playoff for the title with Sandra Gal, Mel Reid twice attacked 13th Beach’s par-5 18th green with a fairway-wood second shot and both times I watched from just a couple of metres behind.
The sound of the contact confirmed both shots were struck beautifully and the flight of the ball was something to behold, low and penetrating like a tracer bullet.
Then came the anticipation of whether or not the ball would find its ultimate target – the green – or come up tantalisingly shy.
In both cases the answer was the latter but those seconds were some of the most magical golf memories I own.
No doubt those shots were exciting in the moment for those watching on TV but it’s unlikely they remember them now.
But anybody who was on that 18th fairway that day? I’d bet they have a memory of it as clear as my own.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, iSeekGolf, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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