Welcome to our brave new world of golf. Forget everything you ve heard so far about the old Scottish game. We re beginning again. Fresh page. Clean slate. From the start. And first up is our bright and shiny, state-of-the-art definition of what is and what is not a major championship. For the last 50-odd years, of course, golf’s Grand Slam has consisted of the Masters Tournament, the US Open, the Open Championship and the USPGA Championship. Before that configuration came along, at a time when the leading amateurs were at least as proficient as their professional contemporaries, the two Opens joined with the Amateur Championship and the US Amateur to form what was euphemistically labeled, the Impregnable Quadrilateral. Neither definition makes the cut these days, however. The Grand Slam won by the incomparable Bobby Jones back in 1930 has long been impractical. These days, leading amateurs are no longer a match for Tiger, Phil, Adam, Rory and all the rest. Not even close. And the so-called modern version, which has three of the four most important events in the game played in one country, clearly takes no account of golf’s multi-national profile in the 21st century. For that reason alone, a more outward-looking approach is required. We re not throwing everything away though. Golf has a long and proud history and half of any Grand Slam must reflect that. So the game s oldest and most important event, the Open Championship, must continue to be one-fourth of our new whole. And the US Open, the biggest event on golf’s biggest tour, should do likewise. Which leaves us with two spots to fill. The first of those must be the World Match Play Championship, if only to reflect the fact that the vast majority of the golf played around the globe on any given day employs the traditional head-to-head format. And that championship must travel the planet, simultaneously spreading the gospel of the greatest game and allowing fans in the likes of Asia, South America and Africa an opportunity to watch golf’s best in the flesh. And the last piece of our four-piece puzzle goes to? That s easy: The Australian Open. Not an occasionally visiting USPGA Championship, as has recently been rumoured. That s no good as it would only be here once a decade or so. Australia deserves better. Think about it. Think about the contribution Australia has made to golf over the years. Think about the list of major champions who were born in the land Down Under. It is both long and distinguished and covers all four of the old majors: Jim Ferrier USPGA 1947 Peter Thomson Open Championship 1954-55-56-58-65 Kel Nagle Open Championship 1960 David Graham US PGA 1979, US Open 1981 Greg Norman Open Championship 1986-93 Wayne Grady USPGA 1990 Ian Baker-Finch Open Championship 1991 Steve Elkington USPGA 1995 Geoff Ogilvy US Open 2006 Adam Scott Masters 2013 Based only on the stature and frequency of its champions, Australia merits a major of its own. The men named above collectively played the game with an uncommon mixture of dignity, poise and panache. Their proud legacy would be further enhanced by the presence of their own national championship amongst golf’s elite events. And there s more. Throw in the extraordinary quality of the courses available to the Australian Open and the case for Grand Slam inclusion grows ever stronger. A major championship held at Royal Melbourne or Kingston Heath or, more fancifully, at Barnbougle Dunes and/or Lost Farm on Tasmania would surely be an occasion to savour and remember for all concerned. It would be proper golf too, a game in which the bounce and roll of the ball is afforded its proper place within the challenge offered up to the game s best players. Imagine how spectacular it could be: the best players on the best courses, playing the game in its most interesting form. Fitting too. This great golfing nation warrants nothing less.
Author: John Huggan at Royal Sydney Golf Club