• Alistair Tait

Ogilvy & Clayton Need A Golf Lesson


Someone needs to have a word with Geoff Ogilvy (above) and Mike Clayton. They’re surely missing the point about what professional golf is all about.


Imagine staging a golf tournament on golf courses picked because they’re great layouts. Haven’t these guys learned anything from a combined 63 years in the professional game?


Don’t they know the quality of the course often has nothing to do with professional golf? Don’t they know it’s all about squeezing every single dollar out of the tournament and to hell with the golf course, especially when owners of said course are willing to pay huge amounts of money to acquire the tournament?


Haven’t they watched the Ryder Cup?


U.S. Open champion (2006) Ogilvy and former European Tour winner Clayton have teamed up to offer a unique event, the Sandbelt Invitational, where the golf courses are the stars. The week before Christmas will see the staging of a tournament for men and women over Australia’s classic sand belt courses – Royal Melbourne, Peninsula Kingswood, Yarra Yarra and Kingston Heath.


On the Golf Australia website, Clayton writes:

“This is not a tournament reliant on who is playing or how much money is in the purse. Rather it’s a tournament played on four amazing courses with players happy to be playing in front of crowds appreciative of good, competitive golf.”

Imagine if choosing the best course possible was part of the criteria for staging the Ryder Cup? We’d never have had the match at The Belfry, the K Club, or Celtic Manor. And that would have been a huge shame, right?


Here’s another thing: the Sandbelt Invitational is not going to pay appearance fees to lure big stars. Clayton writes:

“The problem with running big professional events in this country is their reliance on government support, sponsors and television and they all want to know, ‘who’s playing?’ If you don’t have the best of the locals as well as at least a couple of big-name overseas stars, the investment isn’t there.”

I’ve been writing about golf for nearly 30 years: I thought the “problem” Clayton is referring to was actually the professional golf blueprint. You know, pay a big star to play in a tournament even if said tournament is being held in a country where the term “human rights” has yet to be coined. The appearance fee receiver extols the virtues of that country, how he is only too happy to be at the vanguard of growing golf in the region, how he sees himself as branching out to be a truly global player because he wants to experience different playing conditions, different cultures and become a more rounded human being, blah, blah, blah. All the while filling an already overflowing wheelbarrow full of cash, and never seeing an inch of the country other than the four walls of his luxury hotel room and what he see on the commute to and from the golf course.


And another thing, while the gallery at Royal Melbourne will be restricted to members only, Clayton says “the final three rounds welcome spectators, and entry is free.”


Free entry? Surely not! I’ve been to some golf tournaments over some courses where organisers should have paid people to turn up!


Methinks Clayton and Ogilvy need to lie down in a darkened room and do a wee bit of reflecting. Showcasing great, classic golf courses and no thought of appearance fees or gate submissions? What. On. Earth? Next thing you know they’ll be saying we should roll back the ball in the professional game to bring long and medium irons back into play rather than driver–wedge golf and 24-under-par winning scores, which is obviously what professional golf is all about. Right? Right?


#JustSaying: “Like any fine art, all golf architecture is a matter of opinion, as in fact is everything in the game of golf.” Tom Doak

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