Golf: Welcome boost for local game

LOCAL golf received a massive boost this week, perhaps the most significant since the restart, while on the international front, Scotsman Colin Montgomerie said if the Ryder Cup were to be held this year, then “money would be the only reason”.

Midweek, the Malaysian Golf Association said their request to introduce twin-sharing for biggies had been approved by Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN).

“Effective immediately, golf clubs can allow twin sharing buggies for their members, guests as well as employees.

“However, be informed that golf competitions are still not allowed pending approval from MKN,” said the communique from the national association.

The significance in the easing of the restriction that dictated one per buggy, means that now the club can almost double the revenue base. By any standards that is something notable.

Essentially, it means that player traffic be doubled, and with it, increased revenue for a cross-section of variables, including food and beverages.

All the club officials contacted for comment in the wake of the announcement welcomed the easing of the restriction. But they were not the only ones pleased by this. So too were many club golfers who battled to get tee-off times in a scenario where the numbers of carts were limited to one per player.

Indeed, a member of a Selangor golf club, O. Lee said: “It has been a nightmare to get a tee-off time since after the lock down, especially at weekends. It was not their fault, but the clubs only allowed one player per buggy.

“Maybe this was partly because of the good promotion rates offered at so many of the clubs, but still it was just really tough to get a tee-off time.

“This new announcement means that the clubs can now go back to how it was before Covid-19 struck and hopefully things will get better for booking tee-times,” he added.

The confirmation that the scheduling of tournaments was still on hold, proved a bit of a damper – but given how tings are, it’s understandable.

Having said that, there is a growing perception out there that it might not be too long before events return to the fold.

The bread and butter of many a folk, and company, in the golf and its related tourism industry, the staging of tournaments would prove the “next big thing”.

In fact, it has been learned that some event sponsors and organisers are already working in the background, hoping (and praying) that they can soon get going again.

The Ryder Cup, the biggest and most celebrated of all of golf’s team tournaments might not be held this year.

The biennial event that pits the United States against Europe is scheduled to be held at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Haven, Wisconsin from Sept 25 to 27. Europe are the defending champions, having beaten the US 17½ to 10½ in 2018.

Now, Montgomerie, who led Europe to victory in 2010 believes that if it’s held this year it will purely be for money.

He urged the the European Tour and the PGA of America, the custodians of the event, to be “patient” and hold it only when the fans are back.

The Scot, an eight-time European Tour No 1 in his heydays, said “we can play golf tournaments (without fans), we’ve proven that and it’s been a success, but the Ryder Cup is a unique event and in that way we need fans”.

There are no two ways about this. Montgomerie is spot-on and even if it means holding it over until next season, the organisers should only have it played when the fans are there.

That in itself would be a boost for the sport, just as we (here in Malaysia) had the game of golf bolstered this week with the news of twin-sharing buggies again.

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