The end of the year is fast approaching as is the blog’s annual holiday (thank goodness, I hear you all cry!)  We started this little Madill golf project in May 2016 and the sister suggested we try to keep it going until the Open was played at Portrush.  She meant the last time the Open was played in Portrush – ie in 2019 – not the upcoming (I hate that word!) one in 2025.  Her reasoning was “we’ll have plenty to write about until then”.

I was aghast at the prospect of finding something to write about for three whole years, yet amazingly, here we are seven and a half years later.  Admittedly, golf has been elbowed aside somewhat for football and sundry other topics and the number of articles filed under the heading of “other stuff” has increased exponentially.  I expect this may well be another such missive.

The end of the year is also a good time to tidy up loose ends – and there seem to be a multitude of those from my attempts a fortnight ago to name the Welsh women golfers who have won on Tour.  I had my knuckles rapped (rightly) for omitting Lydia Hall and now it has been pointed out to me that Amy Boulden was also left out.  Just as it’s possible to suffer from a multitude of bad hair days I’m putting this all down to an extremely bad memory day as Amy is another of the blog’s favourites and not easily overlooked.

Covid times, so only 500 spectators were allowed in to watch the tournament. Amy didn’t disappoint holing out for a career best 64 and her first LET title. [Tris Jones, LET]

Sorry Amy.  And sorry to anyone else who may have been omitted.  Let’s close this book on my obvious lack of grey cells.

Loose ends abound in the men’s professional game and there’s absolutely zero chance of any framework agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf being cemented by December 31st as previously promised.  Increasing unrest among the rank and file members of the Tour has led to an undisclosed number signing a petition requesting to meet with the shakers and movers who are supposed to be representing their interests.  Confidence in being fairly represented is at an all-time low for many and the schisms caused by the arrival of LIV Golf are widening.

The golfing landscape for male professionals is changing before our eyes and the only given is that it will not go back to the way it was.  Quite where it will end up is anyone’s guess.  I suppose it’s far too simplistic to think that a tournament should start with a full field, have a cut and that the better you play the better you will be remunerated?  Let’s not have a two or three tier tour but a good honest sporting contest which rewards skill and not the number of hits you get on social media.  Keep it simple and, if possible, with some vestiges of integrity.

And now we have the prospect of a long awaited rollback of the ball.  I tend to think that as far as the professional tours are concerned it may well be too little, too late.  It is much needed from an environmental and sustainability standpoint and should have happened years ago.  Anyway, I wonder if you’ll even notice if your favourite pro only drives it 320 off the tee on the way to winning the Masters as opposed to 335?  That’s all the distance loss that is expected for the very longest hitters in the game.  I welcome it because I’d like to see more emphasis back on shotmaking through the bag and proper testing of a player’s mid- and long-iron skills.

Rory is one who supports the roll back of the ball [Courtesy of masters.com]

The majority of recreational golfers seem to be up in arms at this latest proposal, incandescent that they will be cheated of yards and yards when, in fact, it is estimated that the loss to his or her distance game will be a mere four yards or so.  Is that really such a negative impact?

I must say my sympathies are all with the ordinary, female club member who doesn’t hit it very far at all.  For the majority of women players their handicap is made up of the fact that they do not hit it far enough to get on many greens in regulation – they simply don’t have the strength or firepower.  They are the ones who can ill afford any distance loss at all – it won’t make a scrap of distance to most men.

That is one of the reasons why I’ve always been in favour of bifurcation – different rules for the pros and amateurs.  It’s important to keep the enjoyment level of this very challenging game as high as possible for the recreational player.  And we already do, in essence, have a bifurcated game – you’re kidding yourself if you think you can arm yourself with the same equipment as Rory and the like.  For some reason, however, bifurcation is not in the lexicon of any of the game’s governing bodies.

No need to panic just yet, however.  This proposal isn’t due to come into being until January 1st 2028 and there is a further two-year grace period for amateurs.

Plenty of time to tie up (or create more of) those loose ends.

In closing, I’m sure it won’t have escaped your notice that Tiger Woods has been back competing in his end of year bash for twenty invited players.  The proceeds benefit Tiger’s own foundation and as the host he invites those he wishes to play.  Not surprisingly Tiger finished down in 18th spot but he is doing very well to be out competing again.

All smiles from Tiger, the tournament host. [Getty Images]

The big bone of contention is, however, that this little gathering awards an inordinate number of World Ranking Points, about the only thing in the sporting world that the Saudi money can’t seem to buy.  Tiger started the week at world No 1328 and four days later had vaulted to 898th, a leap of 430 places – and yet he beat only two people.  Doesn’t seem right to me.

More loose ends.