There is a reason why golf watchers are amongst the most knowledgeable and respectful of crowds. From a spectator perspective the professional game is one of those rare things where just about everyone watching will have a deeply personal understanding of the game. Most audiences for televised sport are made up of people who rarely, if ever, have played their ‘chosen’ sport competitively. A football fan may be able to talk strategy or technique, but talking the talk is not the same as understanding what it means to address a ball at the bottom of a bottom of a bunker, or to be standing over a crunch four foot putt.
Golfers know what ‘pressure’ means in personal and practical terms; what are so often empty clichés in other sports describe an experience that golfers know as a matter of visceral, warm-blooded knowledge. Cliché or not - words like ‘pressure’ are anything but ‘empty’ to a golfing audience.
Many like to buy into the pressure felt by the pros in competition. We all have our favourites and our swing models - Ernie Eels anyone? - but putting some money on them makes for an even more engaged spectating experience. It might even be the cheapest golf lesson you ever take.
With TV coverage often rattling through a succession of shots in such a way that it is hard to focus in on anything other than ‘the coverage’, putting your money down at somewhere like bet365 or William Hill makes you watch in a very different way. It guarantees that you take every single glimpse of your chosen pick that little bit more seriously. It’s like playing skins - the same activity can take on a whole new meaning once there are a few bucks to play for.
It means you start to really examine the nuances of your pick’s swing or putting stroke in a way that otherwise you might easily overlook. And here’s another thing. That level of forced analysis is good for you. It means you’ll start to watch like a pro. You won’t just be passively taking on board whatever the broadcaster chooses to pump out. Instead, you’ll start to forensically examine every last nuance of what is going on.
In the process you’ll start to see what it is that the pros are trying to do. Little shifts in set-up or swing plane will start to emerge. If you can see how Adam Scott or Billy Horschel might shape up for a high fade as opposed to a running draw you’ll see things that you can begin to incorporate into your own game- although it’s probably best not to watch Bubba Watson too closely!
Once you start to watch intelligently you will begin to appreciate the subtle mechanics that the pros are manipulating with every shot. Tempo is always a great thing to take away from the pros, but there are other lessons to absorb - but you do have to force yourself to watch incredibly closely to begin to appreciate them. Putting your money down at somewhere like bet365 is a way to open up that appreciation. And of course, it’s a way to take a golfing lesson that can pay you back off the course as well as on it. Everybody likes to win, after all!