I’ve always loved the Open Championship – one of the oldest and most coveted competitions in sport.
Everything about it is romantic. The fact that the winner is called The Champion Golfer of the Year – which seems so arrogant but there we are. That the trophy is called The Claret Jug. The silver medal for the best amateur. Peter Alliss. The forever famous Jean Van de Velde. Tom Watson almost winning again. Jack and Arnie saying goodbye. The different courses and views of our great coastline…
Sadly though, the sport of golf is in terminal decline with green fees sold decreasing year on year and golf clubs closing down and generally struggling. The star players of the game however, they are just fine. Earning so much money from the manufacturers that is has become almost impossible for club pros and retailers to make any margin on equipment sales. Pro shops are doomed as everything goes on-line in the name of progress.
Surprising then that the people who run golf have seen fit to sell the television rights of The Open to Sky TV, thereby hastening the sports demise as it is watched by the few and not the many. How long Wimbledon?
But that said, golf remains a great game. The hardest game of them all I would argue.
For me – too many sports require little flare but simply a big set of lungs and an ability to ignore pain. Admirable for sure, but a little mundane? But sports like golf and tennis require prodigious talent as a starting point on which hours and years and years of practice are required. And a variety of skills as well. Not the repetition of an oar being pulled or a pedal being pushed. From big first serve to slice second, drop shot to passing winner – the drive over 300 yards to the 4 foot downhill putt with a break and all the shots in-between – and these are also individual sports which require incredible mental strengths as well.
So the winner of The Open this year – at St.Andrews, the home of golf deserves to be called The Champion Golfer of the Year.
I hope that it will be Justin Rose.
But however Justin fares this week – it will be nothing to the roller coaster experienced by Ricky Randall – a fictional golfer and hero of my latest novel – Open Links – from which all the proceeds go to the Antony Nolan Trust – so even if you hate golf – you have reason to help me spread the word because it’s a novel that might just save someone’s life.
Those of you who have already come to it – thank you – and especially so if you have taken time to review also.