Since Adam Scott nailed that birdie putt on the second play-off hole to win the Masters from Argentinian Angel Cabrera there has been a flood of optimism about the flow-on benefits for Australian Golf.
It is undeniable that Golf in this country rode for many years on the golfing triumphs and tragedies of the career of one Greg Norman, and that since those Glory Days the local industry has searched in vain for another broad-shouldered hero.
Hopes are now high that Australian Golf will reap the benefits of Scott’s win - he is an ambassador for Tourism Australia, who claim that we will see more tourists heading Down Under for golf holidays. Andrew McEvoy, Tourism Australia managing director, says Scott's win has the potential to position the country as one of the world's leading golf tourism destinations.
We at ausgolf take a slightly different view. As a leading provider of Golf Travel packages we know that Australia is already a world class golf tourism destination, with the likes of Royal Melbourne West, Kingston Heath, Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm, New South Wales and Royal Adelaide making the latest World Top 100 listing.
Adam names his top spots to play golf in Australia as The Melbourne Sand Belt, Barnbougle in Tasmania, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast and ausgolf Travel offers a wide range of packages to these destinations at prices that simply are not available to play quality golf courses anywhere else in the world:
Barnbougle 3 day packages from $520
Sunshine Coast Golf escape packages from $349
Gold Coast 2 day packages from $399
Worldwide TV coverage of events such as the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne and the Australian Masters featuring Tiger Woods at Kingston Heath and Victoria showcases our golf course gems to a passionate global audience, and we always experience a rush of travel enquiries at these times. We doubt that Ambassador Scott will be able to exert the same influence no matter how much he talks up our offering.
So much for golf tourism – what about the health of the domestic industry? The Australian Golf Industry Council reports that for the nine months to date in the current financial year, the number of rounds played is already up 6.4% on 2011/12 figures to nearly 9.8 million which is very heartening, but not a Scott effect. Golf Australia CEO and AGIC Chairman Stephen Pitt says the consistent growth will be boosted by Scott’s victory.
“There is absolutely no doubt that Adam’s win will have a significant impact on the Australian golf industry. His achievement and the people it inspires cuts through on all levels of golf,” Pitt said.
“Anecdotally we’ve already had reports of increased foot traffic through golf clubs around the country in the days following his win." Full story
On a more sobering note, Darius Oliver writing in Planet Golf points out that Golf’s governing bodies have failed to have the game protected by Australian TV’s anti-siphoning legislation, and that “the Communications Minister no longer believes golf’s four major championships should be made available free to the general public. His proposed reforms to the anti-siphoning list remove everything except the Australian Open, Australian Masters and the 2013 (US) Masters. He still believes that every test match involving Australia should be protected, as well as every match at the Australian Open Tennis tournament and the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals at Wimbledon and the US Open. Sadly, defending the integrity of the anti-siphoning list, as well as golf’s place alongside other big events, simply hasn’t been a priority for those at Golf Australia or the PGA.”
Of course, during Greg Norman’s reign on top of the world rankings in the 1980s every school kid including Scott could watch golf on free to air TV, and many of our young stars developed their love for the game in that fashion. The prospects for an Aussie Masters winner in 2043 don’t seem so bright. Nor do the prospects for full timesheets at our Public Access Courses or long waiting lists at our Private Members Clubs.
It’s not just TV but the local press that has abandoned Aussie Golf. Brendan Maloney, former Chief Golf Writer for the Melbourne Age, and current President of the Australian Golf Writers Association put the problem in perspective: “Compare two Victorian Amateur Championships 81 years apart. When Harry Williams won the title as a 16-year-old in 1931, the story occupied the entire front page of the 'Sun' in Melbourne. When Su-Hyun Oh, also 16, won the women's title in 2012 the paper devoted one centimetre of space to the result on page 74 of an 88-page paper and the 'Age' ignored it completely.
No doubt Aussies worship their sporting heroes – before Norman it was Laver who sparked a surge of young tennis talent and before him Bradman had every lad looking for a backyard ton. The local radio and press fanned this enthusiasm. Sadly that is no longer the case.
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