Martin Dempster: What about a docuseries on Scottish golfers, including Monty, Lawrie and Bob?

Contrary to what some people might think, I don’t spend all of my spare time watching golf on TV. Far from it, in fact, as, and I hate to admit this, our beloved game is often unwatchable.
Payul Lawrie and Colin Montgomerie share a joke during a practice round for the 2004 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.Payul Lawrie and Colin Montgomerie share a joke during a practice round for the 2004 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.
Payul Lawrie and Colin Montgomerie share a joke during a practice round for the 2004 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

On Saturday night, I found myself needing a break from blood-splattered scenes as I binge-watched The Peaky Blinders in preparation for the upcoming new series, having already seen what’s gone on before but thinking a refresh would be a good thing.

Escaping the lives of the Shelbys, I switched over to the third round of the PGA Tour’s Sony Open in Hawaii, but, after discovering it was still the ‘featured groups’ coverage, I think I only managed to put myself through a couple of putts before giving up on that.

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Yes, it might have been different if Russell Knox had been in one of those featured groups, but, with all due respect to the American, Kevin Na isn’t exactly on my list of golfers you like to sit back and enjoy doing their stuff.

Over the Christmas break, I downloaded the Sky Sports highlights programme on the final round of last year’s Masters and, admittedly helped by Bob MacIntyre featuring in that on the strength of his fantastic debut effort at Augusta National, that was certainly an enjoyable watch.

As was, for example, the brilliant programme on Sky Sports during the initial Covid-19 lockdown when they got the players, including Paul Lawrie, involved to recall their memories of that dramatic final day in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.

The game, of course, will always come down to the shots, good mainly but also bad ones at crucial times, which is what makes it special, but something different every now and again when it comes to viewing golf and some of its leading players surely has to be a good thing.

It was announced last week that Netflix is to launch a new docuseries, which will follow the lives of a group of PGA Tour players in a way that has never been done before in golf.

With unprecedented access inside the ropes and behind the scenes, the series has been endorsed by the R&A, USGA, Augusta National Golf Club and the PGA of America, meaning the cameras will be running at four majors this year.

Though I didn’t see it myself, the programme will be based of the successful Drive to Survive in Formula One, with Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Viktor Hovland, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Ian Poulter, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson among the players to have signed up for it.

There are some notable absentees from that list. World No 1 Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, for instance, and also Bryson DeChambeau, who was asked, apparently, but declined, though not because he is camera shy.

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“I love Netflix. I watch it. I have a great time with it,” he said last week. “But, just for me, it wasn't right at the present moment.” That’s mainly because the 2010 US Open champion ’s involved with Registry, a content creation channel, and already feels he’s affording people access to his life on YouTube, but that’s his prerogative.

According to DeChambeau, there are “a lot more interesting stories” than him on the PGA Tour and he threw in Harry Higgs as an example. Though a bit of a character, by all accounts, I’m not entirely sure that Higgs will have me glued to the screen, but, at the same time, I’m prepared to give it a shot when the docuseries hits the screens.

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One instant negative about it, of course, is that it’s not a programme combining lives of players on both the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour because, straight away, a segment of the potential armchair audience has been alienated, but the people behind it seem genuinely excited about what they can deliver.

“This partnership with Netflix presents the PGA Tour and the four major championships an opportunity to tap into a completely new and diverse audience,” said Rick Anderson, chief media officer of the US circuit.

“This documentary will give fans an authentic look into the real lives of our athletes, and what it’s like to win - and lose - during a season on the PGA Tour.”

According to Brandon Riegg of Netflix, it will offer “an unparalleled window into life on the tour” and “even the most devoted golf fans have never seen the sport quite like this”.

Maybe one day we might see a Scottish version. Golf’s Take The High Road or River City, so to speak, and I’ve come up with a list of people I’d personally like to see in such a programme.

Top of that would undoubtedly be Harry Bannerman, arguably the greatest character in the history of the Scottish game, while it would also include Colin Montgomerie, Sam Torrance, the aforementioned Lawrie, Knox and MacIntyre and, from the women’s game, Belle Robertson and Michele Thomson.

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I picked them for their individual personalities and, having once relayed to us that he’d been told by his wife, Marian, to “man the f*** up” as he was complaining to her about various aches and pains, I reckon life in the Lawrie household could be a hoot.

That also seems likely to be the case in the MacIntyre family home in Oban, where young Bob still spends a lot of time despite now having his own bachelor pad in the town.

Yeah, there could be mileage in that one for someone out there in the TV world, especially if BBC Scotland can come up with eight episodes on a caravan park, albeit one in a stunning location at Pettycur Bay in Fife, at the moment. Bloody hell!

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