Martin Dempster: Why fans gave thumbs up to golf's established model at British Masters

It was one of those events you’d want to bottle because the Betfred British Masters at The Belfry really was a special week and let’s give credit where credit is due.

First and foremost, it felt like being back at a proper tournament again, having had that taken taken away from us due to the Covid pandemic over the past couple of years, and praise for that goes to the spectators.

On all four days, they turned out in big numbers at the Sutton Coldfield venue and I honestly don’t think I’ve come across so many happy faces out on a golf course.

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Let’s not kid ourselves. The field deserved to be a lot better for an event being hosted by Danny Willett for the second year running there, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.

Those fans loved seeing Willett, Lee Westwood, the Hojgaard twins - Nicolai and Rasmus - and also our own Bob MacIntyre.

Even in England, people are taking notice of the young Oban man and that, of course, is testament to both the way he plays the game and his refreshing attitude to golf and life in general.

Another reason why a huge year for the game on UK soil started so well was The Belfry itself because, quite frankly, it’s one of the best tournament venues around.

Forget what you might have heard from when it staged the first of four Ryder Cups there in 1985 because, all these years on, it’s a bloody good golf course and was presented in tip-top condition again.

Bob MacIntyre was one of the star attractions for big crowds at The Belfry for the British Masters hosted by Danny Willett. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.

That iconic tenth hole really is a gem, as is the 18th, while the tee shot at the sixth, with trouble on both sides, is probably one of the most dreaded on the DP World Tour schedule.

With Thorbjorn Olesen emerging triumphant in a dramatic finish, it was a week that showcased the game at its best, but God only knows what lies ahead because things are going to get messy.

In response to Westwood and Sergio Garcia revealing they’d applied for releases to play in the inaugural LIV Golf event at the Centurion Club in St Albans early next month, Frenchman Mike Lorenza Vera described it as “spitting on their own tour”.

With Tuesday being the deadline for the PGA Tour to make decisions about those release requests, other opinions will soon start to be expressed about the so-called rebels and the next few weeks look certain to be turbulent.

For some, of course, the fact Saudi money is backing Greg Norman’s new series is enough in its own right to be something that should be taboo and everyone is entitled to an opinion.

Which also means that those willing to give it a shot shouldn’t necessarily be chastised at every available opportunity and golf certainly doesn’t need mud being thrown back and forth.

Personally, I’m actually fascinated to see what that first LIV Golf is going to be like, especially with it being staged over just 54 holes and using a shotgun start. There’s a team element, too.

The golfing world will be watching because it’s new and has pots of gold up for grabs. Based on The Belry, though, the old model still works well, so let’s not be fooled into thinking otherwise.

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