This week sets up as a celebration for Australian golf.
Held at Moonah Links, once touted as the ‘home of Australia golf’, the Victorian PGA Championship marks the start of the summer of golf where new tournaments have been added for men and women. Resulting in our most populated scheduled in a long time.
However, the start of the week issued a reminder of what we are missing over the coming months.
Like so many things in the world of golf, the conversation began via Golf Australia magazine Architecture Editor Mike Clayton.
Following the loss of its DP World Tour status with the outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the South African Open went ahead last week. The field primarily made up of local players.
This publication’s tweet of the story of Daniel Van Tonder’s win responded to by Clayton with “Good to see they were prepared to play for the trophy without worrying about who was – and wasn’t – there.”
Good to see they were prepared to play for the trophy without worrying about who was - and wasn’t - there.— Mike Clayton (@mikeclaytongolf) December 6, 2021
It was veteran Aussie Tour player Scott Hend who then inferred that the comment related to the Australian Opens that won’t be contested this summer with international border restrictions and quarantines making attracting overseas based Australians and internationals near impossible, playing a role in the decision.
Clayton’s tweet earned solid support, and Hend continued the discussion with punters about the desire of many to play for the Stonehaven Cup in the men’s game.
And it is hard to argue with the concept given the excitement from players, the golf industry and fans surrounding this week at Moonah Links and the rest of the summer schedule that a local’s only Aussie Open for men and women would have been a popular event. Van Tonder surely a happy man that he was able to win his own national title last week, with little care as to who he had to beat in the process.
"With today marking exactly two years since Matt Jones lifted the Stonehaven Cup, the public thirst to watch our most prestigious title being awarded is enormous." - Jimmy Emanuel.
Of course Golf Australia, the body charged with running the amateur game in this country and national opens, have commercial partners to work with when putting on tournaments and wouldn’t have taken the decision lightly.
But with today marking exactly two years since Matt Jones lifted the Stonehaven Cup, the public thirst to watch our most prestigious title being awarded is enormous. And whether they knew the eventual winner before the first tee time of the week, fans would celebrate our latest champion just like Van Tonder has been on the other side of the Indian Ocean.
The Australian PGA Championship will go ahead in January, alongside the new WPGA Championship, and will provide further proof that South Africa’s example was one to follow.
As will Clayton and Geoff Ogilvy’s Sandbelt Invitational this month, where no entrant has asked Tournament Director Clayton what the prize purse is for the week, the players merely excited at the prospect of playing a four round event across some of our best layouts.
There is certainly sympathy personally for those charged with organising tournament golf in this country over the course of the last two years. However, as we are all learning with the emergence of new variants and the constantly changing landscape, there has to be a point to push ahead with what is available and hope to build going forward.
So, while there is plenty of cause to celebrate this week and beyond in Australian golf, there will also be constant of reminders of what we are as fans, an industry and players are missing out on.