The last time I watched any top-tier tour golf was at Q School in Spain in 2019. In the interim we’ve had various pandemics, players have played behind closed doors and it’s all been fairly sterile at times. Now we’re back to full strength and, while we’re now all obsessing about a new league that none of us really know much about or how it will play out, the DP World Tour rumbles on.
Below are a few observations of a day out at The British Masters. I’ve tried to slant it in a positive way as it’s a great and generally affordable day out, the field lacked for genuine superstars but there was still plenty to like and most of us have our own favourites away from the big names anyway.
1 While the crowds were pretty much sold out at the weekend a Thursday at The Belfry is relatively low key. There are no queues to get in, you can get about the course very easily – if your experience of watching golf is gumping around the Open then this is as far removed from that as possible.
2 The pros play a game that we’re unfamiliar with. Think how good they are to start with and then what they do before they’ve even started a round of golf and it’s probably on a level with what most of us do for practice on an annual basis. Their attention to detail is exceptional, practising for every eventuality. People watch golf on TV, see someone a bit overweight and say golfers aren’t athletes. These boys are phenomenal at both their physical capabilities and stamina for hitting a lot of golf balls very hard.
3 If you pay attention you’ll learn things. It’s OK to back off shots, nobody really cares and why would you want to hit a shot without being certain of a few things. Watch how they read putts, without slowing the group down, watch how the quick ones are ready to pull the trigger when it’s their turn.
4 It’s good value. Our tickets were £30 and, unlike most sporting events, you’re not left wondering whether you’ve got value for money. You can be there as long as you want, the parking’s free and you don’t feel that anyone’s had your trousers down over the ticket price.
5 Even for the most cynical person (me) it’s great to be back. Some of us spend our lives watching these characters’ scores go up and down for weeks on end, so to watch them in person and get a sense of how a tournament might play out is fantastic.
1 It’s slow, glacially slow. The first few holes at The Belfry will always take an age as the 3rd is a par 5 but they still took over an hour. Things then settled down/sped up a bit and the threeball was round in five hours. Which seemed to be sort of acceptable which, of course, it’s not. But then this will never likely really change so it’s probably easier to move on and focus on something else.
2 The food remains overpriced and, while you might not expect quinoa as an option, it’s still dominated by some pricey fish and chips or a burger. You’re advised not to bring your own food but, if you don’t want to part with a decent amount of cash, you’d have to.
3 There’s a nice nod to bringing your own water bottles so you can refill as you go but there was a lack of actual filling stations around the course so you ended up buying a small carton of water for £2 anyway.