Martin Dempster: Below-par attendances need to be halted

IT HAS, admittedly, been a busy year in terms of big tournaments in Scotland, but, for the second time in the space of a few weeks, I reckon an event has failed to attract the support it deserved.

The Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open at Archerfield Links last week. Picture: Getty
The Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open at Archerfield Links last week. Picture: Getty

As was the case with the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Matchplay at Murcar Links, spectators were light on the ground at Archerfield Links last week for the Prostate Cancer UK Scottish Senior Open. “Who wants to watch old men hacking it around?” may be the tempting thought for many, but that would be an insult to the European Senior Tour’s parishioners.

What one local described as a “typical East Lothian breeze” made conditions testing on all three days and, for both Paul Broadhurst and Gordon Manson, the winner and runner-up respectively, to produce flawless four-under-par efforts in the final round was quite outstanding.

Tom Younger and his team at Archerfield Links deserve enormous credit for bringing events to Scotland’s Golf Coast, yet it was the same story when the Ladies’ Scottish Open was held at the venue five years in a row and, moreover, admission for that was free.

Compared to England, for example, we are very lucky in Scotland when it comes to top-level tournament golf and, historically, tournaments here have attracted very healthy attendances.

There are signs, though, of a trend starting to develop that needs to be stopped in its tracks because promoters, sponsors and hosts all deserve to feel their efforts are being appreciated and the only way for the golfing public to show that is the case is through footfall at gates.

Admittedly, with a hat-trick seeking Colin Montgomerie in the field, this week’s Travis Perkins Masters at Woburn, where the attendance is likely to be huge once again, will certainly dispel any myth that no-one wants to watch the over-50s brigade.