A SPEC­TA­CLE TO BE­HOLD

I’ve played a huge num­ber of tour­na­ments dur­ing the course of my Euro­pean Tour ca­reer, but the at­mos­phere at Made in Den­mark is as good as it gets

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his year I played in the ‘Made in Den­mark’ event for the sec­ond time, and what a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence it was. This tour­na­ment blows me away with how good it is in al­most ev­ery re­spect, and how big it has be­come so quickly. It re­ally is a spe­cial week in a coun­try where the na­tives clearly love their golf.

Why is it so ex­cep­tional? That’s an easy ques­tion to an­swer. It’s the crowds. And it’s not just their size, al­though this year we had around 86,000 peo­ple come through the gates over the course of the week – not far short of what we rou­tinely see at Ma­jor Cham­pi­onships on both sides of the At­lantic. No, there is much more to it than that. For what­ever rea­son, the Dan­ish peo­ple have re­ally em­braced the tour­na­ment. The amaz­ing at­mos­phere they cre­ate in what is quite a com­pact space is, at least in my ex­pe­ri­ence, un­ri­valled in reg­u­lar Euro­pean Tour events.

The short 16th hole is the high­light. It only plays any­thing from 90 to maybe 115 yards, but with the high bank around the green packed with spec­ta­tors, it is eas­ily the most ex­cit­ing hole. There must be 6 to 7,000 folk out there ev­ery day, and just about ev­ery one of them has a squeaky toy. When any­one makes a birdie, the noise is un­be­liev­able.

As soon as the play­ers – in ev­ery group – leave the tee, the crowd starts to ap­plaud. Not just po­litely; they re­ally go for it. And they don’t stop un­til the play­ers get to the green. What a feel­ing that is! I would go as far as to say Made in Den­mark is the best Euro­pean event I have ever played in. In terms of at­mos­phere, in how the lo­cals em­brace the play­ers and in how pleased ev­ery­one is to see you there, it is, for me, un­matched. I ob­vi­ously can’t speak for ev­ery pro who has made the trip to the Himmerland Golf & Spa Re­sort over the three years the event has been part of the tour, but I have never felt so wel­come away from home.

Hav­ing said that, what is in­ter­est­ing to me is that the pre-event pub­lic­ity, the brochures and the ad­ver­tis­ing – posters, pro­grammes and the like – is all about the Dan­ish play­ers. It isn’t the Ma­jor Cham­pi­ons in the field, or the likes of Euro­pean Ry­der Cup cap­tain Dar­ren Clarke, who I know loved be­ing there this year. Clearly, the tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers want ev­ery­one to come and see all the play­ers, but es­pe­cially the Dan­ish boys.

To me, that phi­los­o­phy makes per­fect sense. Throw in the mu­sic fes­ti­vals and con­certs that go on ev­ery even­ing af­ter

Tplay – 8 to 10,000 peo­ple at­tend in the tented vil­lage – and the event has a re­ally re­mark­able feel to it, all of which is achieved with­out the or­gan­is­ers hav­ing to give away tick­ets for free or even cheaply. In Bri­tish terms, in fact, at­ten­dance is quite ex­pen­sive. It was €35-€40 per day to watch the golf this year.

That is even more amaz­ing when you re­alise that the course is hardly the most ac­ces­si­ble. We’re not talk­ing about a venue that is any­where close to the main cen­tres of pop­u­la­tion. Himmerland is maybe 45 min­utes from Aal­borg and nearly four hours from Copen­hagen. It re­ally is pretty re­mote. But even that is no prob­lem for all con­cerned. This year, some 350 spec­ta­tors were pay­ing €100 per night to sleep in tents pro­vided by the tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers. And, as one of­fi­cial told me, had they put up 1,000 tents they could have filled them too. I’m bet­ting they have at least that many in 2017. Noth­ing is too much trou­ble. It’s just an awe­some event.

Part of the suc­cess, it seems to me, is that there is only the one Euro­pean Tour event in Den­mark. In Scot­land, there can be as many as four in a given year. That, of course, is ter­rific. But it can also be a prob­lem when bud­gets are tight and fans are forced to pick and choose where and when they can go. Not many peo­ple can af­ford to go to as many as four tour­na­ments, so there are choices to be made. I get that, even though I have been a lit­tle bit dis­ap­pointed by the at­ten­dances at my match play event the last cou­ple of years. Ours is the weak­est field and the small­est prize money, so we are com­pet­ing against big­ger events, which is tough.

Any­way, when there is only one event in a coun­try it be­comes the fo­cus of at­ten­tion, no mat­ter who is or isn’t play­ing. Peo­ple take a week off work to at­tend. It be­comes a fam­ily oc­ca­sion that is part of the na­tion’s sport­ing calendar. As I said, Made in Den­mark has only been around since 2014, but al­ready it is well es­tab­lished as some­thing ev­ery Dane must go to in the sum­mer. It is just bril­liant. But if they had an­other tour event there I’m not sure ei­ther one would work so well. Would the crowds turn out in the same num­bers for a sec­ond week? Maybe, maybe not. One is the per­fect num­ber in a coun­try that size. And be­cause of that, it is a mas­sive deal. Some­times a lit­tle re­ally is bet­ter than a lot.

“The amaz­ing at­mos­phere they cre­ate in what is quite a com­pact space is, at least in my ex­pe­ri­ence, un­ri­valled in reg­u­lar Euro­pean Tour events”

The Car­di­nal range is a new golf ap­parel and ac­ces­sories brand worn and en­dorsed by Paul Lawrie. Look out for more in­for­ma­tion about the col­lec­tion at www.car­di­nal­golf.co.uk

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