What a weekend it was for golf. The brilliance of the Geoff Ogilvy sponsored Players Series tournament in Victoria offset by the debacle of Patrick Reed and the PGA Tour.
The tournament at Rosebud showed us everything that is magnificent about the game at the highest level.
The Reed situation at Torrey Pines exposed the most distasteful side of pay for play golf.
In Victoria we saw an innovative format, a compelling leaderboard and a wild finish featuring a disparate group of players who seemed to genuinely appreciate the opportunity to simply play.
In California we got a murky rules situation involving a player with a history of murky rules situations causing off the charts social media outrage and attention on the game for all the wrong reasons.
Two sides of the same coin. And a neat encapsulation of everything that makes the game so intriguing.
"For all the success and good vibes of what unfolded at Rosebud over the weekend the reality is that – sadly – most of it has been drowned out by the controversy over Patrick Reed." - Rod Morri.
First to Rosebud and perhaps the most important tournament we will see in Australia this year.
The Players Series is an innovative concept which has the potential to be a game changer for professional golf in this country.
Corporate Australia has had little to no serious interest in tournament golf for the best part of two decades but in The Players Series the game may have found something local business can get behind.
Building on the extraordinary success of playing both the Men’s and Women’s Vic Opens concurrently for the last nine years, The Players Series goes one step further in pitting men, women and amateurs against each other for the same trophy (and for the pros the same prize fund).
It is a concept not without complications but is also one which captures the imagination.
While last week’s event was the beneficiary of COVID allowing some higher profile players than might normally be available, the interest generated by a finish showcasing some of the best local men, women and amateur players was encouraging.
Coupled with a brilliant course in Rosebud (that rarest of all species, a true hidden gem) and allowing the limited crowds to walk the fairways a la the Vic Open, the tournament ticked a lot of boxes.
It is a formula that promotes all the best things about the game from its egalitarian nature to the importance of the grounds upon which it is played.
And it gives one hope it could be successfully replicated even without the bigger names like Ogilvy and Su Oh.
The second Players Series event tees off in four weeks’ time at the Bonnie Doon Golf Club in Sydney and if it is as good as the first perhaps locks in a blueprint for coming years.
It would certainly be a positive for all our aspiring players and is something Australian golf could be proud of.
Now back to the unedifying spectacle of events in the US.
For all the success and good vibes of what unfolded at Rosebud over the weekend the reality is that – sadly – most of it has been drowned out by the controversy over Patrick Reed.
The rights and wrongs of what unfolded on the 10th hole at Torrey Pines in Saturday’s third round have already – and will continue to be – debated ad nauseum in the golf world. There is little of any substance this writer can add to that.
But having seen Reed up close at the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne I can say that the overwhelming feeling in the wake of this latest controversy is – once again – one of sadness.
That someone with such a unique and rare gift for playing this game is one of such flawed character is a real pity.
As a spectator it is almost impossible to take your eyes off Reed, so beautiful and naturally flowing is his swing.
As a fellow competitor it seems the same applies though – sadly – for very different reasons.