04 Feb 2020 | Vic Open | Professional golf |

Ogilvy champions golf's top issues

by Mark Hayes

Geoff Ogilvy_image
Geoff Ogilvy on Tuesday at the 2020 ISPS Handa Vic Open. (Photo: Kirsty Wrice/Golf Australia)

Geoff Ogilvy gives good quote.

That’s no surprise to anyone who has covered golf from a journalistic perspective during the Victorian’s stellar career.

He has been lucid, forthright and engaging almost throughout – and today’s appearance in the ISPS Handa Vic Open media centre was no different.

He spoke of his fascination with his state championship as an early teen, watching a slightly older Robert Allenby lift the crown as an amateur in 1991.

“It was one of the first (tournaments) I aspired to play in, especially when Rob won in '91.  I was 14 and that was just outrageous that an 18‑year‑old or whatever he was would win,” he recalled vividly.

He gave genuinely fascinating insights into the aftermath of the recent Presidents Cup, in which he was deputy to captain Ernie Els.

“It was a massive success and we all had a really good time and the boys are constantly on the text still every day. Three or four of them have won since.  Obviously guys bounce out of that tournament with a lot of confidence and buoyancy,” he beamed.

“Everyone's already revved up for Charlotte next time (2021), so there's been a few meetings already with guys about stuff for next time that Ernie suggested.”

He chatted briefly about his own game’s state in his unusual form of semi-retirement.

“It's like riding a bike in some ways; kind of tournament golf is different from golf. You don't forget how to do it, but you've got to polish the skill a little bit.  I haven't really been polishing it, so hopefully I feel like I'm playing well, but I didn't score very well at the Australian Open.”

He waxed lyrical about his passion for women’s golf and the brilliant niche the Vic Open has created.

“This tournament again has proven that (if you) open your mind a little bit to different sort of ways to looking at things, you can be really successful quite quickly,” said Ogilvy, who went as far throwing this model up for future national championship discussions.

“Certainly concurrent Australian Opens at a Royal Melbourne East, Royal Melbourne West, or Peninsula North, South, something like that - or even just neighbour courses nearby - you combine both sites and the sum (becomes) greater than its parts.  

“It's proven it here, so certainly I think that would be an interesting thing.  It really was successful at (the 2014) Pinehurst when Martin (Kaymer) won and Michelle Wie won the next week.

“We all loved it. That's the US Open I watched the most of the girls because I was interested to see how they played the course that I just played.

“Yeah, that would be great.  The more of this the better, absolutely.

“It's probably just golf being stuck in conservative traditions.  You see the Japanese ladies’ tour is a much bigger and successful tour in Japan than the men's tour is, and whenever it's presented properly, it's just as popular it seems like.  It just needs to have the opportunity, I feel.

“It's just a bit of creative thinking.  I'm not sure why, it's maybe just everyone's scared to rock the successful boat that they're riding in.

“The US PGA Tour's a pretty proven model. Maybe they just don't want to rock the boat.  They know what they've got, their product, they know it works. But certainly if you want broader audiences to watch it and a more interesting product, you just make it more interesting, right?”

He spoke of the mooted Premier Golf League and the “territorial pissing matches” that always define discussions of global tours.

But most of all, with a glint in his eye, he spoke of his passion for advocating for the equality of women’s golf.

“This week last year, all I wanted to do was watch the women and how they went about it.  Some of them are just machines, they just don't hit bad shots and they hit hybrids on to the green 10 feet all day,” he marvelled.

“When I hit a hybrid, I'm happy to hit it within 30 yards of the green. It's just a different style. There's something to be learnt from both sides and there's enjoyment in watching both styles of play.

“There's more than just guys in the world, you know?

“I think it just makes sense. The (AFLW) footy's gone really well, I never thought that would work, but there's an appetite for it, I know there is.

“Yeah, it's just great.  We should do this more often.  The fact this happens only once in a year is just nonsense.

“There's plenty of guys who are stuck in conservative thinking, but it's just because they haven't opened their eyes and watched and seen.  There's some pretty good golf getting played out there (by women).

“I think you've just got to watch for a bit. I think a lot of guys just don't, but once you do, you're kind of, `Wow, this is pretty good’.”

And that’s just a sample.

As a golf fan, even if you disagree with some of his comments, you have to admire that he has a considered opinion and, just as importantly, is happy to be the sounding board for conversations on the game’s future.

Ogilvy would doubtless tell you that his chances of hoisting his state championship trophy are slim this week, but he’s already been a winner for so many causes that will drive the sport further.

Long may it continue.

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