By Chris Vogt, Kingston Heath, Tuesday
THERE is something desolate about a tournament-ready golf course without players or spectators. The raw beauty of Kingston Heath is stark amid the grandstands and camera towers, the sponsors tents and hoardings. Two days out from the World Cup, she’s wearing her best and waiting by the door.
Have you been to the MCG on non-match days? It’s haunting. You find yourself gazing at that vast emptiness, recalling and conjuring the action.
And so it is with the Heath.
I’m on the first tee, and there’s no one around. But come Thursday it will be claustrophobic, with galleries, marshals, officials, media. Oh, and there’ll be golfers, too. But they’ll find their own patch of space on the finely-sewn tee box, thinking about their game, and their country. That national responsibility will be carried seriously.
For now, it’s cold (we dropped 20 degrees overnight), and the steady rain will be an early test of the Heath’s conditioning. There’s enough breeze to open the flags of each competing nation, but yesterday’s cyclonic northerly is unlikely to be repeated this week. The course will yield birdies and punish bravado, and for that we can be thankful.
Kingston Heath is at the sharp end of the worlds playing fields; it may be the best we have on these shores. And among the early players there’s already talk of ‘thinking your way around’. Respect bordering on reverence for the layout, and what’s at stake. The teams seem genuinely charged about the format they’ll play for the title. The Vegas brothers beamed their way through a press conference, with the older Jhonattan determined to lord it over his sibling. Jokes aside, the brothers are sure the knowledge each has of the other’s game will be an asset in a team event.
There’s plenty to look forward to this week: the much-neglected Foursomes, national pride, and a jewel of a layout waiting to toy with a spread of players ranked from the top ten down to 1872, each with a chance. When the crowds pour in from Thursday, the picture will be complete.