Anyone who has read this blog before will know that, of course, I love playing golf. It is truly one of the greatest pleasures of my life. But as a self-confessed golf obsessive, the joy of watching the game live comes a very close second to actually playing it, and it is something that I try to do whenever I get the chance. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d take the time to share just a few of the events from around the world that I believe offer some of the very best experiences for spectators.
- The Masters, Augusta National
We really had to start with Augusta, didn’t we? Truly the pinnacle for many players – I’d argue that most would put a round at Augusta at the top of their playing wish list – it is also a fantastic experience for spectators. So, where to start? Well, the weather is almost always unfailingly great. And the hospitality you’ll enjoy – from both the Georgia locals, and laid on by the event organisers themselves – is unsurpassed. You also get to watch the best players in the world, competing (hopefully) at the top of their games, and of course you also get to enjoy the course itself. Augusta in April is a dreamland – a riot of lush green grass and spectacular azaleas. It has been estimated that there are around 80,000 plants of more than 350 varieties on the course – so it’s one for the plant lovers among you, even if you have no interest in the golf itself!
- The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
A bit of a strange one this – but an event that I’ve picked just because it is a lot of fun. The Pebble Beach course – sat between Monterey and Carmel, California – is a stunning place to watch golf anyway, but add in a sprinkling of Hollywood stardust and the chance to do some celebrity spotting as well enjoying the golf, and you have a winning combination. Keep an eye out for regulars Bill Murray and Clint Eastwood out and about on the course, and enjoy just soaking up the glamour (as well as the California sun). An interesting Hollywood-related fact for you about Pebble Beach too – the course was originally paid for by 20th Century Fox largely with the money they made from Star Wars.
- The Ryder Cup
It might not be the most polite and well-behaved crowd in golf (in fact, it definitely isn’t), but watching the Ryder Cup live is a truly unique experience. Wherever it is being held – either in the United States or Europe – you’re guaranteed a gutsy, partisan gathering – there are moments when it feels more like a football crowd than a golf competition. Clearly that might not be to everyone’s tastes, but if you love thrilling golf and a fun atmosphere, then I’d argue it’s an event that you can’t afford to miss.
- The Phoenix Open
Another wild one. This competition – previously the Arizona Open – is actually over 80 years old, but it certainly doesn’t behave like it. Around half a million people descend on the competition every year to watch the world’s best golfers, and there’s a real party atmosphere at an event that has been billed ‘The Greatest Show on Grass’. A highlight for most visitors is the iconic par-3 16th hole, known as The Coliseum. It’s surrounded by a 20,000 seat grandstand packed with roaring fans, just to add pressure to what should be a relatively straightforward hole for most professionals.
- The Open Championship, St Andrews
We’ll end with something a little more sedate and traditional. The Old Course at St Andrews is an unmissable experience for any golfer or spectator – a true home of golf and a place that just drips history. When the Open Championship comes to town, as it has 29 times over St Andrews’ long history, it makes for an even more special atmosphere. The unique challenge of the links course, the unpredictable weather, the wonderful Scottish hospitality and arguably some of the most knowledgeable fans in sport mean that this one of the best spectator experiences there is.
About Rob Weider
Robert Weider is an amateur golfer and independent business consultant based in Hong Kong. He is currently Head of Sales and Marketing for a global supply chain and quality assurance business. He is also providing strategy and management training to a non-profit organization in Hong Kong. Rob Weider has experience with a range of organisations including Siemens, Molten Group and Cathay Pacific (CX). For business enquiries you can contact Rob here.