Horses for courses

Now tour caddy Sean Russell is retired, it’s time for him to share what he really thinks about the courses the tour visits

Given the winter we’ve had, I’ve almost forgotten what my home course looks like. Watching the start of the season on TV, I got thinking about the courses we get to on tour – and what I did, and did not, look forward to at this time of year.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that travelling to warmer climes at this time of year is plain sailing, or that the DP World Tour plays on great courses each week. Neither is necessarily true.

When I was caddying full-time, by this time of year we’d already have been to South Africa or Australia before Christmas, were in the Middle East in January, and had all the flights for the Jetlag Swing around the Far East in the spring booked and paid for. That’s a lot of travelling to play for prize funds no-one on the PGA Tour or LIV would get out of bed for these days. You’re also competing at some pretty average courses – Leopard Creek excepted.

That context made the Desert Swing all the more enjoyable – especially the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club. While the Abu Dhabi Golf Club we used to play the week before was considerably harder, the Emirates has that view of Dubai Marina from the eighth tee, and the view of the iconic clubhouse from the 18th fairway. The tournament also has a real atmosphere, which made for a great week. Or, maybe the real reason I loved it there was because I only ever missed one cut as a caddy?

Although my record as a caddy might not have been that great at them, I also always enjoyed the BMW International Open in Munich – because we ate schnitzel all week; the Scottish Open – because it was the closest to home; the Made in Denmark – because everyone I caddied for there did well; and the Hong Kong Open – because it was in one of the world’s great cities.

When it comes to great courses, after Emirates it looks like a long wait until The Open at Royal Troon this season. With only The Albatross Course at Le Golf National (my favourite course); Royal County Down; and the Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie (at the Dunhill Links) that really excite me after that.

I only watch the DP World Tour when they’re playing courses like these, or when a few former colleagues are doing well, so I may have lots of time to work on my own game this season.