Review of the golfing year 2020
Our resident Master Professional Jon Woodroffe takes a look back at a different kind of year.
We all know the bad bits, so I wanted to make my review of the year more upbeat and look at what we can expect going forwards into the new year.
Schedules shaping up well
The world professional golf tours became very imaginative with their schedules this year and the European Tour is continuing to show good sense in 2021. There will be several tournaments in the same area and more in the UK than in previous years. This can only be good for the lower ranked players struggling to make the cut and thus a living in this highly competitive world. Plus, this can only help reduce their carbon footprint.
The coming together of the behemoth of the PGA Tour and the little brother, the European Tour, should also herald new opportunities for the game to grow globally. I guess the only concern may be how easy it will be for the lower placed European players to break through into the higher echelons of the world rankings. However, I do believe the captain of the European Tour ship, Keith Pelley, will make the right choices. The game is in good hands with him at the helm.
On a personal note, I’d like to belatedly congratulate Ben Taylor on achieving a card for the PGA Tour last year. This is a huge achievement, and it is great to see him embarking on a journey that could lead to great success. This year he’s faced the challenge of making enough money at a limited number of events to retain his card. I will be cheering him on for the rest of the 2021 season and hoping he can keep that hard fought for card. Ben comes from a great golfing family. His father Phil is owner of the Pachesham golf centre in Leatherhead and a former boss of mine.
Surge in interest
The golf industry has seen a steady decline over the past 20 years. We have tried many initiatives to stem this but who knew that the best way to turn the tide was a global pandemic. After the first lockdown, when basically all you could do was walk your dog or play golf, we had an incredible increase in business levels and that has continued through to the winter. Our free beginners group class programme has seen a waiting list stretching to hundreds of people and the greatl value Improvers group classes are now heading the same way. Obviously, this is not how we would have wanted to get this surge of interest in the game, but now it is there, I only hope that the golf industry can look after these golfers. When football, cricket, rugby or whatever else they used to do returns, we really want them to feel that they can still spend some of their time in our sport. This will only happen if they feel welcomed and if we keep the cost of the game reasonable and comparable with other past times.
So, to tournament golf in 2021 and let us hope that the intended schedule is kept to. The majors kick off in Augusta in April, when the azaleas are in full bloom. Although the November Masters was beautiful, as Kellogg’s would say, the original is best. My personal favourite tournaments, The Ryder Cup and Solheim Cups, will bring great excitement. Will Bryson continue to batter the poor golf ball into submission and in the process drive forwards to the top of the world game? As always, it’s the anticipation that is the most fun. All will unfold over a season that hopefully will be completed against the backdrop of a successful vaccination campaign worldwide.
Like a 3 putt on the previous green, we must look forward to the next tee shot of 2021 with hope, expectation, and excitement at the possibilities. Let’s not labour on the previous problems and travails, but nonetheless be aware of how they have shaped us and what we have learned from them. Let’s instead make them a force for positivity in the future.
Here’s a reminder of the thrill of learning to play our great game