As the festive indulgence takes root and we loll around on the couch like a walrus heaving itself along the shingle while jabbing at the remote control in search of yet another repeat and shovelling the remnants of the selection boxes and the antacids down our thrapples in equal measure, it’s an ideal time to dish out the annual awards for quirks, whimsies and oddities from 2016.


Ah, the spoils of war. A meander through the twinkling trophy cabinets of a clubhouse provides a wonderful opportunity to wallow in the triumphant, shimmering opulence of golfing conquest and plunder. Claret jugs here, silver salvers there, ornate rosebowls, orbs, sceptres, gauntlets and tankards everywhere. The bounty from times of yore remains resplendent in its buffed up, elegant majesty. These days, of course, prize-giving ceremonies are now full of befuddled players smiling awkwardly and muttering ‘what the hell is this?’ through clenched teeth as a variety of bamboozling absurdities and tasteless baubles are thrust into their unsuspecting clutches. At October’s Safeway Open in California, organisers were hoping to roll out the barrels for the eagerly-anticipated, jubilant return of Tiger Woods. But Woods didn’t show up so they just rolled a barrel into the hands of eventual winner, Brendan Steele (Pictured).

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In a modern world in which we regularly communicate utilising as few words as possible – the arrival of the Tuesday column, for instance, is greeted with a flabbergasted silence on the sports desk – it seems golf is more than happy to use this surfeit of spare vowels and consonants that are swilling around to fashion wordy monstrosities which look more like a Countdown conundrum than tournament titles. While the names of cherished old events like The Open or The Masters slip off the tongue with the gliding nonchalance of a well-sooked Mint Imperial, a variety of global events can be as tricky to gouge from the mouth as a niggling clump of Highland Toffee that’s stuck to the back of your wallies. No golfer, for example, ever dreamed of triumphing in the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge Championship but the winner of the golfing carbuncle of 2016 goes to the Ladies European Tour’s Ribeira Sacra Patrimonio de la Humanidad International Ladies Open. You can breathe out now.


Rather like watching said stuntman Evel launching himself over the fountains at Caesar’s Palace and landing with the kind of devastating clatter that used to be reserved for weapons of mass destruction, this anguish-laden game of golf can conjure some fairly ghastly spectacles. This correspondent’s backswing, for instance, can only be performed behind a police cordon. Spare a thought then for New Zealander Vaughan McCall whose debris-strewn card at this year’s Fiji International on the European Tour was so ghastly it nearly had to have an autopsy. Over the course of his first six holes, McCall scribbled down an eight, a six, a five, a 12 and a 10 in a solid sequence that was sullied by a par-four on the third. He flung in a couple more eights on the back-nine and was 32-over before deciding to throw in the towel after 17 holes. Presumably, McCall feared he might ruin his card with a birdie on the last.


We all like a good old grouse and groan. You’re probably moaning and muttering right now at this column. Either that, or you’ve just reached out to paw through the industrial jar of Quality Streets only to infuriatingly discover that it’s just those noisette triangles that are left. You know, those green foil-encased peculiarities that nobody seems to like? Anyway, golf’s long-awaited return to the Olympics at Rio 2016 whipped up the kind of huffing and puffing that could have blown all the sand off the Copacabana. While the good ladies welcomed the prospect with considerable gusto, some of the world’s best male players set in motion a domino-effect of withdrawals in the down-beat build-up which was carried along by plenty of doom mongers in the media. The phrase “due to concerns over the Zika virus” became as much a part of the 2016 lexicon as ‘Brexit’ and ‘oh God, not Trump’. Despite all the negativity, the shrugging apathy and the sense of insularity, both the men’s and women’s events went down a storm as those who embraced the Olympic ideal showcased golf in a terrific light. Even the most rampant moaners were proved wrong.


In the eyes of many, golf is about as action-packed as the painting of the Mona Lisa. So how do you make this Royal & Ancient game faster and more fun-filled? Yes, that’s right, you devise the World Super 6 Perth, an all-singing, all-dancing production that was unveiled to widespread head-scratching this year and will be unleashed on the European Tour in 2017. The event will combine 54-holes of strokeplay before a cut reduces the field down to the 24 who will contest a six-hole matchplay finale. Any matches that are tied after half-a-dozen holes will fight it out on a specially constructed, 90 metre knock-out hole. If that’s not enough to separate the duelling duo, then the encounter will be decided by a nearest-the-pin shoot-out, which kind of brings the whole thing down to the level of a company outing where Eric from Accounts and Finance wins a spa weekend for a jammy, thinned tee-shot into three-feet. Given the convoluted nature of this golfing hodgepodge, we must assume the first prize is full membership of Mensa International?

The 19th hole beckons for 2016. Happy New Year when it comes folks.