As acronyms go, it would be hard to find a worse one.  Surely, surely, we must be able to find a decent replacement for the, frankly, bloody awful GOAT:  Greatest Of All Time.  Come on, I don’t think so; it’s the last thing I’d want to be called in the unlikely event that I was mentioned in any such elevated conversation.  Even if it was only in the context of procrastinators from Portstewart, I would balk/baulk at being labelled a goat.

Here’s the definition of goat from my trusty Chambers:  “a horned ruminant animal (genus Capra) of Europe, Asia and N Africa, related to the sheep; (with cap and the) Capricorn; a lecher (fig); a foolish person (inf); (in pl) the wicked (Bible)…”  So far, so bad.

It gets worse if you look at goatish, adjective:  “resembling a goat, esp in smell; lustful; foolish.”  Oops.

Now, I don’t mind goats, they have a lot to commend them despite the rather disparaging dictionary descriptions and I’m delighted to sing the praises of Chuckling Goat, the wonderful company in Llandysul, deepest Wales (a little north of Carmarthen, a little west of Lampeter) that supplies the gut-enhancing kefir that I glug religiously every morning.  There’s no doubt that goats have their place but it is NOT at the top of any tree, sporting or otherwise.

You can make your own kefir but this is some of the best….

This “greatest of all time” stuff has always got my goat and been filed under CRAP:  completely rubbish and pathetic.  Sadly, it hasn’t gone away, so I suppose we’ll just have to come up with something better.  For instance, dragons are much more dramatic and dynamic than goats but there’s nothing snappy about “Did Really Amazing Great Outstanding Notable Stuff”.  Thinking caps on, please.

This musing/moaning has mostly come about because Tiger Woods, the god of golf, has ventured back onto the fairways this week at the Genesis Invitational (he’s also the tournament host) at The Riviera Country Club at Pacific Palisades in California.  There’s no doubt that Woods, who is revered by many of his peers (though none of them has won as many tournaments and only Jack Nicklaus has won more majors, so perhaps that makes them “fellow professionals”) is one of the best of all time but surely even he, goatish aberrations notwithstanding, deserves better than the “G” word?

Hey ho, that’s the aged BOF (Boring Old Fart) stuff out of the way for today.

Eleven years ago, on Valentine’s Day, Sue Turner (nee Jump), one of the world’s great people, golfing or otherwise, died at the age of 50.  She’s the reason for the dragon at the top of the piece (technical glitches permitting) because she was a proud Welsh woman whose passion for the game knew few bounds.  She learned the game at Bull Bay on Anglesey and ended up at Whittington Heath/Barracks in Staffordshire.  Sue went beyond golf though and those of us who knew her remember the vibrant person who transcended whatever sport it was she played and brightened up our lives – even now, years later – whenever we think of her.   That’s being a DRAGON – I wouldn’t insult her memory by calling her a goat.

Sue T, right, with Mo, one of Mo’s and my favourite photos.  It captures the essence of friendship [snapper unkown]

The picture above was taken at a European Team Championship (junior, in Switzerland, Mo thinks, when she was Wales coach and Sue the captain).  Chatting to me, it all came flooding back.  Wales qualified eighth, so made it into the top flight (just).  That meant they played Spain, the top qualifiers, in the first round of matchplay.  Now, at the time, Wales were not in the same league as Spain but the teams got on well, not least because Marta Dotti, their coach and Mo were good pals, having played together as amateurs and professionals.

At the bar, the night before their match with Spain, who were ridiculously short-odds favourites, Sue said to Marta, “You can buy us a drink tomorrow night when we’ve beaten you.”  Everybody laughed because there was only one possible outcome.

The next day, because Spain were the leading qualifiers, they were out first (two foursomes in the morning) and Mo and Sue T reminded their players that the Spaniards, not by nurture early morning bods, didn’t like getting up too early and could be ambushed before they woke up.  Well, it worked and Wales won both of the morning matches.  Even more impressively, they hung on well in the afternoon and knocked out the favourites.

Carlota Ciganda, who went on to become one of Europe’s best professionals and a stalwart of the Solheim Cup, was a star even then but lost one of her matches when she sent her approach to the last soaring miles/ kilometres over the green, out of bounds.  Her caddy was the indomitable, legendary Emma Garcia Ogara (Villacieros), already president of the Spanish Federation and her young team were, naturally, in awe of her.  They were open-mouthed when Mo and Sue T teased her mercilessly, saying, “Emma, Emma, how could you?  You clubbed Carlota into the bar…”

What could Emma do but look hurt, horrified, consider her response, then shrug, raise her arms, shoulders, eyebrows, laugh and admit she’d made a bollocks.

Carlota in Solheim mode, with Terry MacNamara, confident his calculations are better than Emma’s… [Tristan Jones, LET]

When you’re a professional, the money is important, perhaps vital but for the rest of us the essence of golf is the competition and, over and above that, the friendships.