The British Masters is far too good to lose
With English golfers thriving we must save home event, says Rob Jerram.
I rarely get angry when I watch golf. But as Eddie Pepperell lifted the British Masters trophy at Walton Heath I was annoyed.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t irked by Eddie’s win. I was over the moon to see our cover star add to a phenomenal season for English golfers. I was delighted that the fans had poured through the gates to make the event a huge success for host and GW columnist Justin Rose. And I was especially pleased that Walton Heath had not only showcased the quality of courses our country has to offer, but proved that classic layouts can still prove worthy venues to challenge the bighitting modern pros.
What made me angry was that none of that seemingly proved enough to save the British Masters from the chop. With Sky Sports’ highlyimpressive four-year sponsorship of the event reaching its end and no-one coming forward in their place, Pepperell won’t get the chance to defend in 2019.
“Dare I say there are so many events on the European Tour that maybe shouldn’t be there, and these are the ones that should be preserved,” Rose said. “I’d urge the powers that be to make that happen.”
If in any doubt, a quick glance at the Tour schedule, attendance figures and some of the television viewing number prove Rose’s point, but the powers that be don’t appear to have listened. And, despite their desire to continue to grow the game, they probably won’t unless more of the tour’s influential voices speak out and a bigspending sponsor appears.
Then there’s the calendar issue. With next year’s BMW PGA Championship moving to September the possibility of playing the British Masters the week before Wentworth was mooted, but a clash with the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles saw strong opposition from both Sky Sports and Visit Scotland.
So for 2019 at least it looks as though Wentworth will provide our sole fix of live European Tour golf on English soil. Still, at least the Czech Masters will be on TV.