It is great to learn that new golfing nations – spread between South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Far East – benefit from a joint initiative between The R&A and the PGAs of Europe to help their fledgling golf cultures to adopt best practices as they grow the game. The number of countries receiving such aid is now past the 50 mark and it is all funded by R&A surpluses from the staging of The Open Championship.
Much less satisfactory is the news that from 2013 the BBC is pulling out of showing any live action from the European Tour. Only the Open Championship and the Women’s British Open will remain in the BBC’s exclusive live golf portfolio next year, the Corporation having surrendered the rights to the Aberdeen Asset Scottish Open and the BMW PGA Championship to Sky Sports in the new European Tour TV deal.
There are reports that Lee Westwood and Luke Donald have expressed their “extreme disappointment” at this news, especially when British golf is going through such a boom.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Westwood. “Actually, it’s very poor. It doesn’t encourage people who would not ordinarily take up the game. From a golfing standpoint the guys running the BBC aren’t doing a very good job.”
Donald concurred. “It is a shame,” he said. “The game hasn’t been this exciting for years, particularly from a UK standpoint with Lee, Rory, myself in the top three and others such as Justin Rose winning as well. You would have though the BBC would have been clamouring to try to get as much on TV as possible. There’s a certain tradition of golf being on the BBC and that seems to be being lost. The true fans always find a way to watch it, but it does limit exposure to a wider level, to lure the next tranche of fans. ”
Geoff Russell, Editor