Dear eccentric billionaire golf fans,
I don’t make a habit of telling people how to spend their money, but we need you to save professional golf from itself. You may be our only hope.
After two days of watching a handful of the world’s best take on Royal Melbourne, I’m sad that it’s almost over. This course understands golf as a game of both precise execution and careful thought. It dispels the notion that we need to make courses longer, narrower, and less interesting to test elite male players. It differentiates the truly great ball-strikers from the 460cc-swinging flunkies. It shows that a lob wedge can’t do it all around the greens. It reminds us that Tiger was the best before the solid-core ball because he had every shot from a low cut and a high cut to a low draw and a high draw. It proves that a course can simultaneously provide challenge and yield birdies.
Royal Melbourne might the greatest tournament venue I’ve ever seen.
And we really need to see this type of golf every year. We have to recall the highest virtues of the game on a regular basis. Doing so could help prevent poor architectural and maintenance decisions at golf courses across the world. It would remind us that wider corridors don’t just help the average golfer get around; they allow the more calculating player to gain an advantage. It would remind us that the ball bouncing and rolling is infinitely more interesting than it landing and stopping. It would remind us that contoured greens are more compelling than flat ones. And it would remind us that golf is a game for thinkers—and one of consequences for those who don’t think.
A high-profile annual tournament at Royal Melbourne would help shape the future golf. Sure, we already have The Open and The Masters, but the Composite Course combines the virtues of the Open rota and Augusta. It has the pace of linksland from tee to green, and it has the masterful Golden Age greens of Alister MacKenzie.
A Sandbelt Championship the fifth major we actually need.
That’s where you come in, golf-obsessed billionaires. Yes, admittedly, The Players has proven that money can’t buy major status. But you know what it can buy? Top-10 players. The Saudi International has proven that. So throw some cash at the Brookses and the DJs of the world, and fund a $20-million purse. Post up at Royal Melbourne, run things independently (as ANGC has done with great success for decades), and let the quality of the golf drive the prestige of the event.
Maybe you would rather spend your billions on a new, secluded private course. That’s understandable. But if you really want to add value to golf, I can’t think of a better way than showing the world the best version of the game, year in and year out.