With all the hype around soccer-ball at the moment, it’s easy to forget that there are other sports tournaments going on. And apart from the rugby test matches, GAA and the infamous Auckland Darts Masters, there is the US Golf Open.

So if you find the pace of life is too fast, if the urgency of TV dramas and ER-style cinematography are too gripping for your delicate constitution, and the thought of watching a stress-inducing and heartrate-skyrocketing game of hurling gives you palpitations – then, golf may be just the spectator sport for you.

A golf tournament is often hours of “thunk, swoosh” from the tee box overlaid with softly-spoken commentary, interrupted occasionally with applause and excited confirmation that “that was one hell of a golf shot right there”.

The recommended viewing etiquette for a golf tournament is at home, on your couch, over a weekend. If you follow the simple steps below, you will find that there can be serious, albeit low-key and understated, enjoyment to be had watching a weekend golf tournament.

Preparing for a hungover Sunday watching the golf does take some preparation and forward planning. Most tournaments last over two to three days. Since I know most people have a life and cannot designate entire weekends to the couch, I suggest committing to the final day of the tournament, which is arguably the most exciting.

Simple 9-hole steps to golf spectatorship

  1. On Friday, call your non-golf loving friends, of whom you are sure to have many, and arrange to meet for drinks on Saturday night.
  2. Place a “reserved – tomorrow, 11am to midnight” sign on your couch. Also prepare some rehydration, easy-to-cook food such as pizza, waffles, and microwavable popcorn and place these in the kitchen for Sunday.
  3. Go out on the tiles on Saturday night – and enjoy yourself!
  4. Consume a sufficient amount of alcohol to ensure a mild hangover the next day – on a scale of one to ten, where one is having a mild fuzzy feeling in your head that is easy to ignore accompanied by a slightly unpleasant taste in your mouth and ten is the sensation of multiple doozers in your brain working heavy machinery and the thought of moving even one digit of one limb reduces you to a nauseated ball of sweat, you should be aiming for a 3 to 5.
  5. Get up at a reasonably rested time – preferably before midday.
  6. Removing the aforementioned sign from step 2, place yourself and your duvet on the couch
  7. If someone tries to rouse you, or incredulously change the channel, keep your eyes closed and mumble “Don’t wake me – I’m watching the golf”.
  8. During your lucid moments while you actually watch the TV, be prepared for often not seeing where the ball is going, in particular during long shots from the tee box. The camera will pan across the sky following the arc of the shot, but you will have absolutely no idea where the ball is. This is normal, so just appreciate the views.
  9. Sometimes, between the extended episodes of sky-panning camerawork and easy-to-putt shots, be prepared for moments of sheer excitement. Like the final hours of the US Open in 2008, when Tiger Woods won the tournament in a sudden death round, while struggling with a broken leg.

Required terminology

Unlike other sports, you will only require a limited amount of terminology to be able to follow golf


Par means in general “average, usual or normal”. In golf, it means getting the ball in the hole in the predicted number of shots; for example, getting a par score on a par 4 hole means getting the ball in the hole in 4 shots. Simples!


Bird was the 1800s equivalent of “cool” in the US, which means if you got a one under par hole, it was a birdie. Even cooler avian terms were adopted for even cooler shots, such as eagle for two under par, and albatross (or double eagle) for three shots under par.


Bogey comes from an old English song referencing the Bogey Man. It means getting a score of 1-over par. British golfers of the 19th century began chasing the Bogey Man on the golf course, meaning chasing after the perfect score. And who says golf is stuck in the past?

Tee box

Although it may sound like a highly desirable vantage point from where you can watch all the golf action while consuming caffeinated beverages, this is actually the spot for each hole from where the player tees off.


Plaid is the pattern of cloth often favoured by golfers to be worn as fashionable, and practical, trousers.


A pit of sand, which is added to a golf course as an obstacle to be avoided

There’s plenty more, but you’ll pick them up along the way. And there will be plenty of time to Google during the 10-hour spectator marathon.