There’s been a lot going on this past week in the golf world but my eyes were drawn to one of my favourite places, Woburn, despite the fact I didn’t attend the AIG Women’s British Open this year. Patricia was there to capture the atmosphere and witness the stunning golf at first hand but it was more than a little interesting to watch on TV, be drawn in, and yes, captivated, by the 20-year old winner, Hinako Shibuno of Japan.
It takes some force of personality to come through the screen and grab you, converting you into a fan after watching only a handful of holes but that’s precisely what Shibuno did – rather as Seve did when he first played in the Open back in 1976 at Royal Birkdale.Shibuno could teach some of the players a thing or two – and I don’t mean just with her golf game. I think certain players (men and women) forget that as well as being professional athletes they are also entertainers and owe it to the thousands at the venue, as well as the millions watching on telly, to make it a pleasurable experience to watch them. I’m tired of hearing that the players who go round with a sullen look and depressing demeanour are “great fun” and “very witty” in private. I don’t care what they’re like in private – I want to enjoy watching these great practitioners of their art and appreciate their skills.
They don’t need to be laughing and joking all the way round – just don’t look like a wet weekend and have the commentators explain their mien away as being due to being introverted. It’s a hard commercial world out there and golf doesn’t want to lose any of its fans because it’s become a difficult, not to mention slow, watch. So, for more than one reason, Woburn produced a great winner.
It was exciting to have three English players, defending champion Georgia Hall, local favourite Charley Hull and Cheshire’s dynamic Bronte Law in touch going in to the final round. Alas, the glorious prospect of a second consecutive home winner slipped away early on and we still only have three home-grown victors since the Women’s British Open became a major back in 2001. Two of those winners, the aforementioned Georgia Hall and Catriona Matthew, who won in 2009, have received an MBE, Hall in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list of 2018 and Matthew in the New Year’s Honours list of 2010.These two former Women’s British Open champions join three other female British golfers to be recognised for services to golf by the Queen – Dame Laura Davies, Alison Nicholas (MBE) and Dale Reid (OBE). Let me state here and now that my own feeling is that you shouldn’t receive an honour for simply doing your job well and for which you are handsomely recompensed anyway. Be that as it may, can someone please tell me why Karen Stupples, winner of the 2004 Women’s British Open with a commanding performance at Sunningdale, is not on this list?
I suspect that living in the United States means that Karen suffers from “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome but that doesn’t cut it. In the past I’ve been involved in supporting several applications to the Honours Office and normally a governing body is instrumental in putting together a portfolio of support for the candidate – all very hush-hush as the candidate never knows anything about it in the event of the application being unsuccessful. Perhaps an application was made for Karen and it was unsuccessful?
Hmm, I doubt it, but if it was – it’s time to do it again, only better. Come on England Golf – why don’t you take the lead to ensure this glaring oversight is corrected? You currently spend huge amounts of energy and funding to support players and enable them to achieve their goals – and there’s no higher goal than a major title. A couple of decades ago Karen had to fight and scrap for every last penny just to be able to go and play. And, against all the odds, she made it. She’s a perfect role model for today’s often pampered youngsters.Please, please prove to us all that you don’t suffer from lamentably short memories. Stupples, the pride of Kent, deserves a gong if anyone does and you can now add services to broadcasting to her list of achievements.