Madeira Islands Open weather woes taken in stride

Green keepers bale the water out of a bunker at Madeira Islands Open. Picture: Getty
Green keepers bale the water out of a bunker at Madeira Islands Open. Picture: Getty
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DEPENDING on what Mother Nature has in store, golf events are either great or awful. For example, would last year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles have been such a wonderful experience, particularly for the spectators, if the weather had been more as we’d expected for the end of September than the almost balmy conditions we got?

That’s why it was impossible to feel anything but sympathy for the European Challenge Tour players and officials at the weekend as the Madeira Islands Open was cancelled with just one round having been played over the course of four days.

It was only the second time in the European Tour’s history that a tournament had fallen to adverse weather, joining the Compaq European Grand Prix at Slaley Hall in 1998, but, with Santo de Serra having a history in this respect, a tough decision needs to be taken about its future.

On the one hand, it would be a shame if the game lost an event that has been in existence since 1993. On the other, though, it’s tough to ask players to keep heading to a venue where they are almost resigned to delays caused by one thing or another, due to it being located high up in the mountains in south-east Madeira.

What made matters worse on this occasion was the event was the first on this season’s Challenge Tour schedule and one of its “majors” with a £435,00 prize pot. The cancellation has caused a false start and now it won’t be until the Kenya Open in a fortnight that players on the second-tier circuit can try to secure a first pay cheque of the campaign.

It was pleasing, though, that there doesn’t appear to have been one word of complaint from any of them. They know the efforts Tour officials and club staff put in to give them such opportunities. Prima donnas, thankfully, are few and far between in this great game.