Last week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn gave the lie to the notion that there’s no interest in women’s golf in this country, with roughly 52,000 spectators tramping the fairways during the championship and many more watching on television on the BBC, where golf is about to become a distant memory.

The best women golfers in the world gave a demonstration of ball-striking at its best and the new champion Ariya Jutanugarn was little short of awesome, giving the ball a mighty Thai tonk and holding nothing back.  She played with Catriona Matthew in the third round and it was a wonderful contrast in styles, with the Scot, who will be 47 later this month, having to plot her way round the Marquess course in a more canny fashion altogether.  Matthew was the leading Briton, sharing 5th place on 279, 9 under par, seven shots behind the winner.

Ariya with caddy Peter and mentors Pia and Lynn

Ariya with caddy Peter and mentors Pia and Lynn

Charley Hull, the local heroine, lagged behind her Olympic teammate on 283 but showed glimpses of her best form in a final round of 69.  The week before the RWBO Hull was playing for England in the UL International Crown team event in Illinois and had to sit out one of the days because of illness.  She was then in great demand at Woburn, for tea party photo shoots, interviews, chats with the GB Olympic golf captain Jamie Spence, selfies, what have you and she even experienced first-tee nerves, a rarity for the insouciant 20-year old, as she prepared to perform in front of her family and friends.

Rio will provide another challenge and will be nothing like a normal tournament, despite the familiarity of the 72-hole stroke play format.  Hull, who suffers from asthma, will have to make sure that her inhaler is properly vetted and all the competitors will have to be extra careful about what they take for any sniffles and snuffles, aches and pains, to ensure they don’t fall foul of the drug testers.  There’ll be a lot to take in and the golf will be intense because most of the best women in the world will be there, anxious to secure a medal and make a unique mark in the game.

China's colourful Olympic medal hope Shanshan Feng

China’s Olympic medal hope Shanshan Feng

Apologies to Spence, a lovely man despite being an Arsenal supporter, who was kind enough to do a Q & A with  He even agreed to start again after the klutz operating the iPad realised that she had it in photo mode instead of video.  Then halfway through, said klutz noticed that the seconds were no longer ticking up……the machine had had enough, it had run out of capacity and Jamie’s words of wisdom ended up as so much air instead of on air.  Sorry captain and the best of luck to team GB (Danny Willett, Justin Rose, Matthew and Hull).  May you all be spared from media klutzes and hitches and glitches, technical or otherwise.

Good luck also, of course, to team Ireland, captained by Paul McGinley (whose Q & A was conducted by Maureen without a hitch).  Padraig Harrington is the leading player, with Seamus Power, Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow also in the line-up making golfing history.  This will be one of the highlights of their life, let alone their career.

On a less elevated, more prosaic golfing note, the ladies’ captain of Whittington Heath took more than a score of swingers to Southport, England’s Golf Coast, where we played Hesketh – and saw the Hitler Trophy displayed in all its glory (see a previous post for more details) – and Formby Ladies, where they can boast 250 (female) playing members. Wow. Let’s get recruiting girls.

A name to conjure with

A name to conjure with

Sue Gartland, ladies' captain of Whittington Heath with Anne Bromley, sec/manager Formby Ladies

Sue Gartland of Whittington Heath with Anne Bromley, secretary/manager Formby Ladies