Oct 3rd, 2017
Editor's Letter – All hail the British Masters
How to nail a golf tournament
Words: Tim Southwell Photography: Getty Images Styling: GolfPunk
Anyone who was at the British Masters, or watched it on TV, will know what an excellent tournament it was. With the European Tour courting sponsorship dollars across Europe and beyond in order to maintain operations and expand, it seems that there has been less focus on holding events in the UK.
The way it went down at Close House – everything from Lee Westwood's hands-on promotional approach, Sky's superb coverage and the golf course itself – served as a powerful reminder that The European Tour neglects these shores at its peril.
Almost 70,000 spectators poured into Close House over the week and, despite the random weather, the atmosphere was fantastic.
We watched from the 1st tee as Westwood, Sergio Garcia and reigning champion Alex Noren began their campaigns. It was chokka around the tee and the vista of 10-deep lines of spectators wound all the way up the first hole (see below).
That's another thing about Close House that really works for tournament golf. At most events, when you are in the tented village or hospitality, that's exactly where you are. You can't see anything of the golf course.
Working with the Tour to get the best possible results for fans and organisers, Close House's normal order of holes was thrown up in the air and rejigged. Subsequently, the tournament's 1st hole was actually the 5th.
The result was that you could sit with a pint and a pie in the tented village and watch & hear the drama unfolding all the way up the first and across other holes.
A bit like Celtic Manor, which also enjoys undulations around the hospitality areas, being able to gaze off into the distance and hear the 'oohs' and 'aahhs' gave the event a real sense of occasion and excitement.
"Nearly 70,000," said Westwood. "I think that's brilliant. It's the best attendance since we've brought the tournament back. I'm delighted with that but I had a funny feeling people in the northeast would support it well."
The tournament was holding its third edition since the tournament, with the backing of Sky Sports, made its return to the schedule after a seven-year absence.
To put the attendance figures into context, here are some comparisons: BMW PGA Championship: 109,684; HNA Open de France: 41,688; Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open: 51,397.
Westy, who has won 23-times on the European Tour winner also tasted victory in the Hero Challenge on Tuesday.
"It's been good," Westwood added. "It gave me another view of a tournament; appreciation of what goes on leading up to a tournament and during the tournament. I'm glad I did it and hopefully everybody had a good time."
Westy finished 15th after starting Sunday three shots off the lead. Paul Dunne's incredible last round 61 saw off all challengers, including a resurgent Rory McIlroy who carded a final round 63.
Paul Dunne's immaculate chip-in on the 72nd hole, which secured a three shot victory, was a fitting end to a tremendous tournament. None of this will be lost on the Tour. A big success and a clarion call for increased efforts to bring more and more tournaments to these shores.
By the way, if you're wondering, Hero is an Indian motorbike company that likes a bit of golf.