IT ISN’T just television ratings that record astronomical numbers every April. Far from it.
The Masters has the ability to make every golfer around the world daydream about their bucket list and – for those with enough inspiration and disposable income – act on it.
Such is the aura and mystique of a “tradition unlike any other” that tour companies are inundated with enquiries and bookings right after the green jacket ceremony concludes.
But not just for tours to Augusta National – watching the world’s best players at the British Open is high on most golfers’ bucket lists, and the icing on the cake is tours are almost always married with playing some of Britain’s finest seaside links courses.
Domestically, Australia gives fantasy land a run for its money on the back of having nine courses in the world’s Top 100 – and a host of spectacular golf destinations to boot. The Bass Strait Masters is a new player that has emerged in this market, offering four competition rounds across both Barnbougle and King Island courses during the day and the Apple Isle’s finest food and wine at night.
To get the ball rolling on your golfing bucket list, here are a few recommendations from us. It’s not a definitive list by any means, but try not to drool, regardless.
Masters and British Open Tours with Exclusive Sports
Mike Sidgreaves, managing director of Sydney-based touring company Exclusive Sports, founded his company after travelling to the home of The Masters numerous times. After each trip, the self-confessed golf tragic returned to Australia knowing he could improve the experience if he was to start his own tour.
Sidgreaves detailed his journey to Australian Golf Digest below.
“One of my earliest memories as a child was waking up early on Masters Monday to watch the action,” says Sidgreaves. “Naturally, over many years I had built up Augusta National as this majestic place in my own head. When it came time for me to attend my first Masters, I was a little nervous as to how it would compare. Not only did it meet those expectations, but well and truly exceeded them – which I didn’t think was even possible. And this sort of experience is consistent with the feedback we get from of our clients.
“People often ask me, ‘Which is better, The Masters or the British Open?’
“I find a definitive answer difficult and can only say they’re special in their own way. From an event point-of-view, it is very hard to go past The Masters. It’s played on a course designed for spectators, and yet the crowd sizes are restricted and probably half of what you might find at The Open Championship.
“On the other hand, 99 per cent of golfers can’t play Augusta National after the tournament, whereas the British Open courses are all accessible to the public. After last year’s Open Championship at St Andrews, our tour group was lucky enough to play the Old Course the very next morning with the same tee and pin positions the professionals played in the final round. That is an experience they will never forget.
“The Masters is probably the event that almost every golfer wants to – needs to – experience at least once in their lifetime. Yet some people probably don’t realise how accessible the event is, and how many Aussies are now making the pilgrimage to Augusta. Regardless of how many Aussies are now embarking on this journey, the reality is 99 per cent people will only ever do it once. “As such, it’s important to do it right and get everything out of the experience you possibly can. To do this, we strongly recommend that people stay in the heart of Augusta, as close to the course possible. This will enable you to not only spend as much time as possible out on the course, but also the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere in a town that is overwhelmed by Masters fever during that very special week in April.”
Bass Strait Masters
As if this part of the world needed any extra attention. When Golf Digest (US) released its World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses list in January, Tasmania and King Island celebrated having Cape Wickham at No.24, Barnbougle Dunes at No.33 and Lost Farm at No.40, in addition to King Island’s future Top 100 contender Ocean Dunes.
These four jaw-dropping courses formed the inaugural Bass Strait Masters in April, and its debut was wildly successful. After the concept was put to the public in 2015, the event sold out in just 11 days. And it doesn’t take a genius to work out why. Fourteen aircraft and 80 players flew down to Tasmania with golf charter specialists Vortex Air. Views in the air and on the ground were nothing short of spectacular, with the cliff faces, pristine beaches and the Bass Strait leading off into the horizon. The event was held across four days and included rounds on Cape Wickham, Ocean Dunes, Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm. Competitors were treated to some of Australia’s best golf followed by evening functions with prizes and premium local produce, including King Island’s finest rock lobster, cheese and beef.
Former Test cricketer and golf fanatic Greg Blewitt came on board for the event as MC. “The combination of flights, fine dining, accommodation and four days of ‘competitive’ golf on King Island and Barnbougle was brilliant,” Blewitt said. “I really can’t wait for next year.”
The Vortex Air team is already busy organising next year’s event and with the full 18 holes at Ocean Dunes set to be officially open next month, rumour is the second coming of the Bass Strait Masters is going to be even better. Tickets are now on sale for the 2017 event for $3,500pp. For more information head to Bassstraitmasters.com.au or Vortexair.com.au
World Corporate Golf Challenge
More than any other sport, golf allows players to mix business with pleasure. In this space, there are corporate golf days – and then there’s the World Corporate Golf Challenge. Founded in the UK in 1993, the WCGC was played in more than 40 countries on six different continents in 2015. More than 80 per cent of WCGC participants are aged between 30 and 65, with over 72 per cent of C-level executives or higher. The WCGC has a rich history Down Under with Australia crowned world champions in 2003.
So how does it work? Companies enter in teams of two players. One player must be currently employed or act as a director for the company. The other member may be an employee, director, client or associate. A series of regional (qualifying) events will take place with one team from each qualifying day progressing to the national final. The winning team from the national final will progress through to the World Final and will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to represent Australia.
Players may participate in multiple qualifying rounds, each of which will be played in the stableford format with a maximum adjusted handicap of 36 for men and 45 for women. Each golfer will play off 3/4 of their adjusted handicap.
The format of play for all qualifying rounds and the national final will be aggregate stableford. Find a local qualifying day or register at australia.worldcorporategolfchallenge.com