I thought I’d start with the tulips (pic above, I hope, technical glitches permitting) to cheer everybody up and add a bit of colour to the blog from the get go, no other reason. Also, although plants undoubtedly have feelings and are much more sensitive than many of us once thought, they don’t, as yet, have any problems with their image rights or the use thereof.
That’s not to say that tulips didn’t once put the figures being bandied about by Greg Norman and the Saudi golf investors in the halfpenny place – I exaggerate of course but not by much. Read Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach to find out more. There’s a film too but the book came first, so start there.
I don’t quite know what to make of the Saudi situation, which seems to be getting feverish, not least because the PGA Tour and the fledgling DP World Tour (until recently the European Tour), are getting their schedules – and many other things – in a twist. And are they in any position to claim the moral high ground? They’re showing signs of becoming very Putin-esque (bossy, bullying, belligerent, if without the Russian’s firepower – though who knows what’s just smoke and mirrors?) What happened to jaw jaw instead of war war? Are we just hard-wired for conflict?
And, one quick question here, why did the R&A decide not to give the winner of the Asian order of merit an exemption into this year’s Open? The Asian Tour was badly hit by the pandemic and attendant disruptions – and has been given a lifeline by Saudi money – but the R&A is committed to “growing the game” worldwide and withdrawing the exemption seems on the face of it to be an unsupportive, retrograde step. A clear explanation would help enlighten the puzzled.
Professional golf is all about money, the clue is in the name, professionals expect to be paid, the glory is just an added bonus and in the end it’s probably not the players who are going to suffer when people with mega bucks (real, bona fide mega bucks) come in to shake up the status quo. I did have to laugh when I saw that Phil Mickelson was accusing the PGA Tour of “obnoxious greed” but on reading further it seemed that Phil, articulate as ever, had a point. His main gripe concerned image rights and the fact that players had no control over theirs but the tour made millions, nay, billions from them. John Huggan’s piece in Golf Digest will get you started if you wish to try and fathom the intricacies.
In truth, all this really doesn’t affect those of us who play golf at ground level – often literally, given that the top is one of my most effective shots, water hazards being notable by their absence from Whittington Heath, thank goodness. However, a few days ago, on one of my recent rare forays onto the course, I hit a shot as it was meant to be hit and my heart was in my mouth from the moment of contact because it was at a short hole – our current 2nd – and it was a busy day. A hole-in-one is always a delight but I wasn’t sure that I was insured….
On Tuesday we at WHGC had a visit from golfing royalty, a woman who is so steeped in golf that it is impossible to overstate her achievements. I didn’t know where to start when someone looked blank when I mentioned her name. It was a bit like talking about Nancy Lopez and realising that the person I was speaking to had no idea who Nancy was….Where to start? How to explain her significance, her impact? I was flabbergasted, stumped.
Anyway, it was not Nancy who called in to have a tour of our new holes and learn about the HS2-induced changes but Bridget Jackson MBE, who has graced Staffordshire, English, British (and Irish) and world golf for umpteen decades. She won the British Girls’ in 1954, the year I was born and trained on to win many more titles and playing honours, including Curtis Cup. She became an administrator – Staffordshire, the Midlands, England, ELGA, LGU (both now defunct) – and is now an honorary member of the R&A.
Having excelled myself in some respects of the visit (this is such a rarity that it was inevitable that something would go wrong), I completely forgot to take any photos to commemorate the occasion. Oh dear. It didn’t occur to anybody else either – oh double dear – so I’m not the only plonker. Sorry Bridget.
All this talk of image rights has been making me nervous, so there are no pictures of Jill Thornhill, who has just become president of Walton Heath and Alison Chestnutt, the new captain of Dungannon, the first women to hold their respective positions – a clunky phrase that makes me think of yoga or tai chi but it’s late and my brain cell is falling asleep. So congratulations to them both and to their clubs, who had the good sense to appoint them.
Finally, an arboreal quiz question, featuring a tree in Beacon Park. What are these bushy outcrops? Not nests, not mistletoe. Any ideas?