Best golf competition to watch
The best golf competition to watch is based on you as a spectator. How to see the most good players with the least amount of other spectators. Having visited somewhere between 40-50 races over the years, I have a tip.
“Best golf competition to watch” is an article that is not about digital marketing or storytelling. It will go under the “occasional robbery story” account that I also promised when I started writing this article feed a few months ago. Even if it is not… It is a concrete tip.
What is the best golf tournament to visit if you want to see big stars play golf?
I am a golf nerd. And I have followed both men’s and women’s golf for quite some time. In 1991, I watched my first dam major. It was called Dinah Shore at the time. It is held at Mission Hills Golf Club in Rancho Mirage in Palm Springs at the end of March each year.
A year later, I covered my first men’s major: the 1992 US Open at Pebble Beach. That’s when a shitty Anders Forsbrand just walked past me, the only Swedish journalist on site, after making bogey on the last hole on the last lap. He had left early but then the wind started to pick up. Substantial. Before it was over, Forsbrand was in the top 10. The best placement in a major by a Swede until then. Forsbrand, the cheerful man of that time, could not be found.
There have been a few more competitions since then: Masters 97, 98, 99 and 2000. And in 2010, 2011 and 2018. A few more US Opens. Any Open Championship. A Ryder Cup.
The same thing on the women’s side. Some majors. A Solheim Cup.
And a lot of “regular” tour races. I don’t know how many. But there have been a few. I would guess between 40-50 in total.
Henrik Stenson at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. It’s the last lap and Henrik is fighting at the top. Note how few visitors there are.
What is the best golf event to watch?
I am often asked: What is the best golf tournament to visit if you want to see big stars play golf?
I have always said that The Masters is the coolest competition to visit. It is the first major of the season. Always played at the perfect Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia (don’t go to Augusta in the state of Maine as a Swedish photographer covering the event once did…). The myth around the competition is huge.
In fact, I still think so. That the Masters is the coolest event to visit.
But the best competition to be a spectator?
I have been answering the Turkish Open in Belek, Turkey, for quite a few years. It is part of the European Tour playoffs and part of the Race to Dubai. That means a lot of good players in the starting field. In addition, the main sponsor has a tradition of buying one or two profile players every year. Tiger Woods has played the event several times. One year, John Daly was invited. It was the same year that I was working there. The bus driver from the airport was convinced that I was John Daly. It was embarrassing the first time he asked. The second and third time, it got harder and harder. By the fourth question, I was about to turn around and go home.
Blind bus drivers aside, I have always recommended the Turkish Open if you are a spectator watching golf. Partly because it is relatively close, but mainly because there are no spectators. The number of Turks who care about golf can be counted on the balls of a range bucket. Otherwise, there are only a few tourists there. If you go to the Turkish Open, you are very lonely as a spectator among really good players. So it’s very easy to move around and see good golfers.
Henrik Stenson with his new caddie Scott Vail at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December 2018.
Best golf event to visit as a spectator: Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas
I have a new, overwhelming, favorite: TheHero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
Yes, it is much longer. Of course, also a bit more expensive.
But the competition is completely uncompetitive in terms of the number of top players in relation to spectators.
It’s ridiculous how lonely you are around the best player in the world.
The starting field is only 18 players. No one is ranked worse than 30th in the world rankings. It is intimate, the players are relaxed. And it’s good golf.
The event is held in late November/early December and is an unofficial part of the PGA Tour. The starting field is only 18 players. No one is ranked worse than 40th in the world rankings. It is intimate, the players are relaxed. And it’s good golf. It’s like witnessing a (very well-paid) golf vacation competing with the best golfers in the world. 25 degrees in early December doesn’t hurt either.
I was actually there last year. I was to interview Dustin Johnson for Golfstore Magazine in West Palm Beach a few days later (read the article here) and had a day to spare while sitting in my hotel room in Fort Lauderdale. Sure, I got a media accreditation and photo permit, but I can honestly say that I didn’t need the accreditation to get close to the players. You are close enough as a spectator (of course I needed an accreditation to take photos on the pitch, but not to get closer to the players).
So close to the players
I joined Stenson for a few holes on the last lap. The sixth green is a double green with the 13th hole. I’m standing in front of a small hill next to the green so I can’t really see what’s happening on the 13th green. I focus on mine and look at the camera.
When I look up, Tiger Woods is standing less than 10 meters away from me. “What’s going on? Where are all the people?” I have time to think. After all, he’s on the 13th hole of the final round of a PGA Tour event. Then I turn around. I see maybe 50 people walking with him. You should know: he’s the event’s crowd puller even in this event…
You get it!
The Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas is my new recommendation for attending a golf tournament as a spectator. The competition is not open to the public during the recording days. However, on all competition days, anyone can visit the competition.
It doesn’t get any closer or better than this.
Finally, many people know that I produce features and films. And that I write texts and articles.
What many people don’t know about me is that I like photography too.
All photos in this article are signed by Yours Truly.