The last few weeks of European Tour golf have been tough going, even for the most die-hard viewers among us
I’ve watched quite a lot of European Tour golf in recent weeks, even by my own high standards, and I can’t help but feel bored by a great deal of it.
It’s not the players; the golf on show has been great and the likes of Scott Hend and David Law have produced superb performances to win in Malaysia and Australia respectively. Despite their efforts, I can’t help feeling that I’ve watched the same tournament continuing one week to the next. The courses and locations at this time of year don’t help, nor does the weakness of many of the fields.
While we all understand why the tour is out in the Middle East and Asia, and it’s certainly not for crowd sizes, the last few weeks have felt like a monotonous trudge through the dessert, sprinkled with only the occasional oasis of a star-studded field or a fun format like the Super 6 down in Australia.
While the PGA Tour can rely on its week-in week-out star power – mainly powered by Rory McIlory’s will he, won’t he storyline over the last few weeks – the European Tour simply cannot compete on that front. Despite the fact that the courses in the US tend to feel even more monotonous than those in the desert – though I did really enjoy watching the WGC Mexico event where the players had to tackle a properly tree-lined course – that star power makes watching on a Sunday night feel so much more important.
So what can the European Tour do about it? They can start with the golf courses. Make them more interesting, choose them for their design appeal and how they look on TV while choosing layouts which look distinct from one another with enough entertainment value to make us care about shots being hit by players many of those watching haven’t heard of. They can also use some of their interesting formats at this time of year too – anything to break up the repetitiveness. The European Tour cannot just rely on the same people tuning in every week, they need to make the product more appealing at this time of year when fields are weaker and the golf is played far away from their home turf.
The tour will be back closer to home soon – the British Masters heads to the brilliant Hillside in May and is sure to attract big crowds while the Belgian Knockout and Golf Sixes in Portugal will provide interesting formats before the tour brings out its big guns in the heart of the summer with the Irish and Scottish opens ahead of The Open Championship at Royal Portrush. Bring on the summer!