Date: October 03, 2012
Author: Luke Elvy / Golf Australia

Luke Elvy blog: Open for business

The announcement of Channel Seven as the free to air broadcasters of the Emirates Australian Open is good for golf. No, it s not a billion dollar deal but it does represents hope for the future so I want to congratulate all those who have worked tirelessly to secure this outcome. Seven has a long and proud association with golf, having covered many of Australia s major events over the years. They last hosted the Australian Open in 2008 when South Africa s Tim Clark beat Mat Goggin in a playoff at Royal Sydney. With Head of Sport Saul Shtein at the helm along with production giants World Sport Group, I can assure you it ll be a top quality broadcast. They plan to show 20 live hours over four days across their channels with veteran host Sandy Roberts fronting an experienced commentary team. For our National Open not to have a free-to-air home would be another huge blow for the sport which continues to be buffeted by the all conquering footy codes and the lion of the golf jungle, the US PGA Tour. That s not to say Fox Sports wouldn t do a great job either – having worked for them for 10 years, I m fully aware of their dedication and the high calibre of their sports coverage. They are great at what they do but sadly, only a third of the country has Pay-TV, which impacts the amount of people who get to see it. Television is an essential component for big-ticket sport and the more eyeballs you get the more valuable your product is. Significant sponsorship, advertising revenue and general marketability is just as important as the event itself. Without one you can t have the other. What s also essential is the quality of the product and I know tournament organisers are working hard to ensure this event is not just 72-holes of golf but a celebration of the game. These days engaging the fan that attends the venue is crucial and I believe there will be plenty of the event feel at The Lakes. However, there s nothing better than seeing the pros up close and personal. One glimpse or connection with a star can hook a fan for life. PGA and Web.Com Tour player Aron Price once caught the ball of Steve Elkington when he went to watch a tournament at The Lakes in the early 90 s. Price knew from that moment on what he wanted to do with his life. This year fans will be able to see one of the all-time greats, Tom Watson. At 63, the 8-time major champion and former Australian Open champion is living proof age shall not weary him. Also in a major coup, a hunch tells me one of the stars from Europe s Ryder Cup winning team may be included for the Open in the coming days. Throw in past winners Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy plus defending champion Greg Chalmers and its shaping up as another great battle for the Stonehaven Cup come early December. I m already counting down the days to the Emirates Australian Open, are you? Luke Elvy recently returned from the United States covering the PGA Tour. He will host the Australian PGA Championship coverage for ONE HD in December and writes exclusively for Golf Australia. His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. Follow him on Twitter – @elvisgolf