A word of warning at the start: I’ve just had my vaccination and who knows what kind of reaction there might be, so if this blog peters out halfway through, that’s probably the reason. The possible side effects include fatigue, chills, nausea, vomiting, fever, dizziness, headaches, so who knows if I can stagger to the end? Fingers crossed. And don’t think that I’m not aware of those going, “Please God, make her stop now….we can’t take much more of this….” Or, as the old-time, late lamented copytakers, rendered redundant by technology, used to say to the reporters desperately trying to make the words sing but decomposing at the end of the phone: “Is there much more of this?….”
You had to be on the receiving end to hear the ennui and disdain, delivered with immaculate timing that would have done justice to Dorothy Parker at her most haughty and dismissive. Ah, the good old days!
I suppose I’d better start with a bit of golf to get it out of the way. The good news is that Mike Whan, who transformed the LPGA in almost every way in his record-breaking spell (a mind-boggling 11 years) in charge, will not be lost to golf. He’ll be taking over as CEO of the USGA (United States Golf Association) in the summer and the world’s junior governing body, traditionally sedate and buttoned up – its idea of casual is dispensing with a tie – knows it’s in for a bit of a wild ride.
Whan knows golf but he’s not afraid to take risks and what makes him effective is that he takes people along with him. He’s already told his future colleagues that he’ll make many more mistakes than Mike Davis, the man he succeeds but he’s good at learning and doesn’t usually make the same mistake twice. “I’m really not that great at very many things,” Whan said, “but I’m really good at bringing people together for a common purpose.”
I hesitate to describe him as a miracle worker – I really don’t know him but he seems to be well aware of his strengths and isn’t scared to admit his weaknesses and appoint people who are better at certain things than he is – but anyone who has run a women’s tour for more than a decade and leaves with praise raining down on them from every angle (and no sharp implement in their back) has to inspire shock and, above all, awe. Whan really will have performed miracles if his successor is appointed in a civilised manner, proves a success and stays in post for a decent amount of time, building on what are now very firm foundations.
He’s a man who doesn’t like to feel too comfortable in his job, which is perhaps something we could all learn from, especially those of us who are rather fond of our comfort zone and don’t feel the need to challenge ourselves too much. Whan revealed that his wife Meg (I got her name off the internet so hope it’s right) knew 18 months ago that they’d be moving, she just didn’t know where. Why? How? Because he’d stopped waking up at two in the morning and reaching for his notepad!
“I’m taking this job because I’m really uncomfortable,” he said of his move to the USGA. “This makes me nervous. I know I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m excited because of all the things I don’t know……I need first tee jitters to play my best.” Fortunately, as he said in another interview somewhere – and I paraphrase – he’s never suffered from stage fright, he likes an audience and he likes nothing better than a bit of collaboration and persuading people that it’s in their best interests to work together.
I don’t know if the sainted Rory (well, we know he’s only human and not perfect but the blog is still a McIlroy fan) has met Mike Whan yet but it won’t be too long before he does. Rory has been very outspoken, scathing even, about the USGA and R&A’s distance initiative and the Ulsterman has just become the first player not born in the US to be elected to the PGA Tour policy board, pipping Russell Knox and Kevin Streelman. Rory is currently chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC) and he’ll take up his position on the policy board next year, replacing Jordan Spieth. Ah.
Those of us who’d like Rory to complete the Grand Slam by winning the Masters and go on to win more majors and lots of other tournaments aren’t too sure we want him taking on more committee work and neglecting his core business, so to speak. How much good did it do Spieth’s golf? Perhaps it’ll suit Rory, who is not built like a Woods or a Faldo, single-minded individuals who pursued titles with little thought for anything else in their lives. Perhaps Rory will pitch up at Augusta – soon I hope – thinking about something else, find himself playing well (goodness, that fierce, concentrated practice seems to be working) and end up wearing a green jacket. Ah well, we can all dream.
The pandemic is still playing merry hell with scheduling and events like the West of Ireland, the men’s home internationals and the Girls’ U16 Amateur Championship, have already been postponed until later in the year. If the Walker Cup at Seminole goes ahead at the beginning of May, GB and I, most of whose players will nearly have forgotten what competition is, will have to perform miracles not to get mangled. And once May comes, July can’t be far behind. If the Open goes ahead this year, will any of us be allowed to be there?
Ah well, back to the jigsaws.