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I was going to do something serious for the last blog of the year but then I thought, ‘what the heck’.  After all, what’s so serious about golf, really?  There are plenty of serious things going on in the world and perhaps it’s true that life is too important to be taken seriously but where exactly does golf fall in the scheme of things?

Professional golfers have to take golf seriously because it’s the way they earn their livelihood but in their hearts they must know that they’re playing a game for a living.  They tell us how hard they work – and a lot of them do – but they and all other sports people know how lucky they are to be doing what they do, at the time that they are, earning ridiculous amounts of money if they’re successful.  The critical thing, the tough thing, is that it doesn’t make them any better than the rest of us or, whatever they might think or hope, immune from the vicissitudes of daily life.  They’re just people who are very good at hitting a little ball and getting it into a smallish hole better than most other people.

Phil, the Power, Taylor, who’s getting ready to retire after an outstanding career, is very good at darts and has earned fame and fortune because of it.  He’d have earned even more if he’d been as good at golf and the sort of shedloads that need to be counted by armies of accountants if he’d been as good at football.  A few years ago, he and the golfers and the footballers would have had to combine their sport with other things to make a decent living and there’d have been no such thing as billionaire bloggers (whatever they might be) or YouTube viral videoers or any number of odd ways of making a living.

Who knows how things will turn out?

Sergio Garcia, a prodigy if ever there was one, eventually won his first major championship, the Masters at Augusta, in April 2017, at the age of 37.  The green jacket, a bit of a Johnny-come-lately symbol of success (it’s even younger than the tournament, which is the youngest of the four men’s majors), has rarely been worn with more joy and Garcia’s name is now etched in the record books, alongside fellow Spaniards Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.  Not long afterwards, Garcia’s life changed again, when he married Angela Akins.  It’s been quite a year.  And, to cap it all, the man from Castellon was a runaway winner of the Golf Writers Trophy, awarded each year by the AGW (Association of Golf Writers) “to the person or persons, born or resident in Europe, who, in the opinion of a majority of the members, shall have made the most outstanding contribution to golf during the preceding 12 months”.  Ole Sergio.

Happiness is a man in a green jacket [courtesy of the European Tour/Getty Images]

Tommy Horton, who died last week at the age of 76, never won a major or a green jacket but he was a golfer of enduring excellence, who became a Ryder Cup player, captain of the PGA and helped establish the European Tour and then the Senior Tour, where he set the standard for all who followed.  That’s a lot of good stuff and he was made an MBE but above all he will be remembered as a true gentleman.  As a tribute that’s hard to beat.

Tommy Horton, born in Lancashire but for ever associated with Royal Jersey GC. [PGA photo, I think]

Golfers are, in the eyes of a lot of apparently sane people, completely nuts and no doubt there’s a debate to be had there.  In the nuts corner, you’d have a lot of disparate types, ranging from the likes of Tommy, Sergio, Maureen and me to the green jackets of Augusta National, the navy blue blazers of the R&A, the flip-flops of Tahiti, the skimpy work shorts of outback Oz and the muffled-up members of Whittington Heath, heading out in the snow with jackets and balls of many colours.

They’re not mad: they’re from Tamworth. They breed ’em tough in Staffordshire.

We’ve had a fair bit of snow in the Midlands over the last few days and our course was open yesterday, presumably because no one seriously thought that anyone would be daft enough to try and play but the Tamworth 7 are not easily deterred and there was grass visible on the 1st fairway (the 18th was a different matter), so off they jolly well went.  I think the rule was that if you lost your ball you were out but all seven battled round to the 9th and five forged on down the 10th to finish who knows where.  Being social animals, most of them also made it to the Christmas Draw Night (money to be won, delicious food to be consumed, drink to be drunk, tall tales to be told and Xmas jumpers to be unveiled by the unrepentant).

Finalists in WHGC’s Christmas jumper comp. A close call, though the West Ham fan (right) deserved extra marks for venturing out in rival claret and blue territory.

Anyway, wherever you are, thanks for reading and all the best for Christmas and New Year.  All being well, Maureen and I will be back in January, revived, refreshed and raring to roll.

 

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