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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Golf's Dunhill debacle
Green staff struggle to get surface water off the 18th
Ground staff had to deal with terrible weather
BBC Sport's golf correspondent Tony Adamson reflects on the poorly thought-out Dunhill Links Championship.

It was heralded as a celebration of links golf but it turned out to be a bad dream for the sponsors and the Scottish Tourist Board.

An over-ambitious format foundered under an onslaught of Scotland's most inhospitable weather.

Mr Peter German's wealth of experience in the art of tournament directing was put to its greatest test as 256 professionals and 256 amateurs attempted to complete rounds at three of Scotland's finest courses.

The only smiling faces throughout a traumatic five days came from the competitors
Tony Adamson

As players went round Carnoustie, St Andrews and Kingsbarns, they were constantly interrupted by fog, rain and gale force winds.

At the same time, correspondents desperately tried to fathom who was doing what, with whom and where, and in how many shots.

Complex handicap system

Tempers naturally became frayed as the tournament committee refused to admit publicly their inability to cope with a complex handicap system for the amateurs.

Sections of a large media circus were quick to roast the committee in public for their ineptitude.

Only in the final hours of the tournament did the sponsors hierarchy confront the media and admit their problems.

A pre-tournament clear-the-air meeting with the Fourth Estate would have been preferable.

The only smiling faces throughout a traumatic five days came from the competitors.

The amateurs revelled in being able to play such hallowed Scottish golfing territory and didn't seem to mind getting drenched for the privilege.

The professionals played for 3.5m. They were truly in their element.

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie shelters from the rain on the 18th
Colin Montgomerie shelters from the rain

However, for the peace of mind of everyone a smaller field and an earlier date should be a priority for 2002.

Not that the tournament is likely to attract many more fans through the gates than its inaugural year.

Scottish fans are fussy when it comes to watching golf, and moreover who they will watch playing it.

Especially when requested to pay 15-a-head to come through the gates.

The mix of Hollywood and their beloved game is abhorrent to them.

As one remarked, "Would you go to the Old Vic to watch Colin Montgomerie play Hamlet."

Another replied without batting an eye, "He'd probably lose anyway."

But golf prides itself in its unique ability to merge professional with amateur.

Apart from the regular Pro-Am events played on the eve of most tournaments around the world, the only championship devoted entirely to the format is the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am in California.

Though it also has suffered from the vagaries of the weather, it has remained a traditional fixture on the US tour since its inauguration in 1937, when it was known as "the Bing Crosby".

The game is constantly crying out for new concepts, despite its boom period, and the Dunhill Links Championship must be encouraged.

See also:

22 Oct 01 |  Golf
Gamble fails at damp Dunhill
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