Another letter from the DOC…
When I arrived in Stockholm late one night at the beginning of the summer, a circus had come to town. The ‘Stockholm Stopover’ of the Volvo Ocean Race was on the agenda for a few days in June and it seemed like the whole city had been waiting for it. In some ways I guess Stockholm must be a dream destination for an event like this. The boats can come all the way in to just in front of the Royal Castle and with the closure of a couple of streets there is every chance to create a rather exciting marquee area. I am amazed by the investment that must have gone into putting this very temporary arrangement in place, which actually looks very nice. In the Volvo Ocean Race the blue chip companies fight for the exposure. Volvo, Ericsson, Puma and Telefonica to name just a few must have spent some serious money. And for what? Well, I guess that depends on through which glasses you are looking at this. In a way one could say that this is professional sports at its best. Even though there is some sort of a competition taking place this is an exhibition at large, paired with an environment perfectly set up for companies and their customers. It lasts for more or less a year and touches just about every corner of the world. One could of course say that it is professional sports at its worst, as this has got nothing to do with a Championship with a history. There is no World Championships and no Olympics and the winners are unlikely to get their names in the history books.
For quite some time professional golf was all about exhibition matches. Many of us grew up with the pictures from Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf and it is not without the sense of ‘gone full circle’ that I read about Henrik Stenson’s match against Adam Scott, a Monday in July at a course in Sweden where the former had just hosted a Challenge Tour event. Interestingly enough this event got far more media coverage than the European Tour’s regular event did that week, at least in Sweden. Perhaps this is where sport is heading once again? When there is not a Championship to compete for then give people what people want. And in most cases that is something a lot quicker and more accessible than just a smaller version of the same thing. One of my great sources of inspiration, Swedish professional Gunnar Mueller, once said to me that Championships are about golf. The rest is just about making a living and could be played anywhere and anyhow.
When The Open Championship came to Turnberry it was the real thing. A championship golf course ready to crown the Champion Golfer of the year. And isn’t it great that golf is a sport where somebody like Tom Watson can actually compete for the trophy? I have a feeling that it was a bigger blow for all of us watching when he lost the tournament than when Tiger Woods missed the cut. As Tom said himself, it would have been a wonderful story.
This week it is time for another Championship, which even if at a different level should be equally exciting. The English Amateur Championship at Rye and Littlestone will put a new name in the record books!
“Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.”
– Merry Brown