Once upon a time the World Amateur Team Championships were big news in the global amateur golf world so I was shocked to learn they almost tiptoed past me unnoticed in the last couple of weeks.  Unfortunately, nowadays lack of coverage tends to be the lot of most golf tournaments that don’t reward the players with wheelbarrow-loads of cash.

The women and men play in successive weeks over the same venue.  This year France were the hosts and utilised two courses for the championships – Le Golf National (2018 venue for the Ryder Cup) and Golf de St Nom-la-Breteche, both in tip-top condition.  Teams of three play 72 holes of strokeplay with the best two scores counting each day.

Joy unconfined for Italy who came top of the pile for the first time in the Eisenhower Trophy. [USGA/Steven Gibbons]

Massive congrats must go to the Italian men’s team for winning the Eisenhower Trophy for the first time in their history – in fact it was the first time they’d had any kind of a podium finish and last week they came top out of 60 teams, edging the Swedes by a shot and consigning multiple winners, the United States, to the bronze medal position.  The best of the four home countries was a highly creditable tied eighth place for Wales.

In the women’s battle for the Espirito Santo Trophy Sweden prevailed (see pic at the top) with the USA second and Germany third.  The best showing by one of the four home countries was tied seventh for Scotland.

The Scots were steered to seventh by super-coach, Kathryn Imrie, far right. [USGA/Steven Gibbons]

Back in my day, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales made up one team, Great Britain and Ireland.  I did make the team on one occasion and had the unforgettable thrill of playing Pinehurst No 2 in North Carolina.  Patricia was there covering the men’s and women’s tournaments for Golf World magazine and, if I recall rightly, it was one of her first, if not THE first-ever golf writing assignment.  I’m not sure we gave her too much to write home about that year but nothing daunted, she stayed on for the Eisenhower Trophy the following week, meeting both her future husband and best man.  It’d be interesting to look back at her reports from that week to see if she’d been inspired or, more likely, was lacking in concentration!

There’s no doubt the Italian success reflects a quickening of the golfing heartbeat in that country, which is surely only set to continue as we begin the lead up to the Ryder Cup in Rome in twelve months’ time.

I see the European captain Luke Donald has reinstated a GB&I versus Europe team matchplay event, namely The Hero Cup, to be played in Abu Dhabi in January.  Reminiscent of the Seve Trophy, this contest will feature ten players a side with all ten playing in each of three sessions of foursomes, fourballs and singles.  It’s great to give players the opportunity to tee it up, knowing they are on the radar of the captain and it will be invaluable for Donald and his assistants, who this year will have the luxury (or is that headache?) of six picks.  It’ll certainly be a very different-looking European team with Sergio, Casey, Poulter and Westwood almost guaranteed not to feature.

Lots to ponder for Captain Donald in the months ahead. [DP World Tour.]

Changing tack completely, we have a new member of the family, whom we have also called Donald.  No, not a nice, bouncing, friendly dog that requires lots of walking.  This Donald is not quite so welcome, being some sort of semi-tropical amoebic parasite discovered in my blood about a month ago, although goodness knows how long he’s been there, lying dormant, waiting to be triggered by Covid.  Well, if you have the kitchen sink thrown at you, post Covid, at my age, they’re bound to come up with something!  It’s apparently not possible to catch Donald in this country but it is in some parts of the United States, so that seems to be where I met my unwelcome friend.  The fact that he is likely American, extremely unpleasant and pretty difficult to get rid of all contributed to his naming.

It’s odds-on now that I’ll see this year out without playing a single hole of golf and that set me thinking as to what I might do or what hobby I could take up if my playing days are, indeed, over.  I don’t have to look too far to see what friends and some colleagues from earlier tour days have done.

One has become a real cycling aficionado, filling Facebook with wonderful pictures of 80 – 100 mile daily rides in the most stunning scenery.  Not sure I could ever get my behind into the sort of shape that would tolerate sitting on those razor-like saddles for that length of time.  Another has taken to the hills, rambling and learning about the countryside while others have taken to painting, sculpture and all sorts of tasks that require dexterous skills with the hands – skills which I definitely do not possess.  One famous friend has become a wonderful photographer and, as most of you know, we feature her pictures regularly.

Please do flood me with ideas and recommendations.  I really would welcome your input but don’t suggest gardening – not user-friendly for my creaky back,  What would YOU do if you stopped playing?  And would you/have you missed golf?

I’ll leave you with a little test.  Here’s a photo of two great pals of mine, both of whom played International representative golf.  They are both still playing golf, but tennis is a great love of both of them.  Here they are playing at Wimbledon the other week – can you identify them?  And which country/countries did they represent?  Answers will be provided next week.

Any ideas as to who these two are?

There is obviously so much more to enjoying life than playing golf and honing in on a complete year without playing I’m beginning to understand exactly what one pal said to me some years back – it’s a very easy game not to play.  There’s something inside me, though, that says I shouldn’t give in without a bit more of a fight.