Yesterday I saw Deyen Lawson take great delight in relieving Peter Senior of $20 at Links Hope Island [above].
Rookie professional Steph Kyriacou lost $50 to Travis Smyth in the Pineapple Cup at St Michael’s Golf Club in Sydney, and was filthy that when she exacted revenge in their return match there was no money on the line.
More than 70 pros based in south-east Queensland signed up to play a pro-am at Wynnum next week before it too had to be bumped until at least July 10 when restrictions are scheduled to be ease further.
Professional golf at the highest level can draw criticism for the millions of dollars on offer every week – and the money it costs to get the best players to show up – yet in this coronavirus conundrum we can give our landlocked elite the one thing they crave above all else: competition.
The players ranked eighth and 21st in women’s golf are so desperate to tee it up that there was talk of an appearance at the $11,000 CITIC Pacific Mining Karratha Pro-Am… and that they were going to drive the 1,500 kilometres north from Perth for the privilege!
Two other players were mooted to join that epic road trip before that event also had to be postponed on the PGA of Australia schedule – European Tour stars Jason Scrivener and Min Woo Lee, currently biding their time in Perth playing virtual golf and firing ‘stingers’ at the range.
A list of Aussie golfers currently in the country – and with no real prospect of leaving any time soon – presents a unique opportunity for Australian golf to put some of its very best players in the public spotlight and elevate golf’s position within Australian sport’s consciousness.
On the men’s side we have Adam Scott, Lucas Herbert, Jason Scrivener, Min Woo Lee, Brad Kennedy, Wade Ormsby, Brendan Jones, Matthew Griffin, Anthony Quayle, Jake McLeod, Andrew Dodt and Zach Murray, among others, all of whom have current status on major world tours.
Minjee Lee and Hannah Green are stuck in Perth waiting for the LPGA Tour to resume in late July at the earliest while emerging talents such as Kyriacou, Su Oh, Robyn Choi and Karis Davidson are desperate for the opportunity to showcase their skills to a larger audience.
So what’s the solution? That’s a question that presents challenges but ones that Australian golf’s powerbrokers should do everything they can to overcome.
The state border closures present significant obstacles but as people are permitted to travel interstate for work purposes – including NRL and AFL players – surely our ‘professional’ golfers can be granted a leave pass.
But rather than putting on ‘just another golf tournament’ in a time when a celebrity exhibition match attracts six million viewers in the US, Australian golf should re-launch with a product that will engage the thousands upon thousands of Aussies who have found sanctuary at their local golf course during lockdown.
What about an 18-hole mixed foursomes event where players are mic’d up and encouraged to let their personalities shine through?
Adam Scott and Steph Kyriacou vs Zach Murray and Karrie Webb.
Minjee Lee and Lucas Herbert vs Hannah Green and Min Woo Lee.
More than any other sport, golf is in a position to come out of the COVID-19 crisis in a stronger position than what it went in. What it needs though is a bold, entertaining product to signal its return, a still somewhat captive audience and a sponsor willing to put up an even moderate prize pool in exchange for national exposure.
It’s an opportunity to step forward and establish a ‘new normal’ that Australian golf cannot afford to ignore.