THERE’S always some finger-prodding, hectoring boffin doing a tut-tutting form of study these days isn’t there?

If they’re not unearthing data that shows X amount of us are eating too much of this, then they’re digging out sobering statistics proving that another X amount of us are not doing enough of that or drinking and inhaling too much of the other.

It’s all calorie counting here and knowing your units there. You spend half the time waddling around with a headful of damning digits, perpetually totting up the grisly numbers like the liquidator carrying out an internal audit at oldco Rangers.

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The other week, research showed that golf spectators at a tournament averaged a healthy 11,500 steps per day which, funnily enough, is about the same number of paces some of the women golfers on the LPGA Tour perform during their laborious pre-shot plooters and palavers. Last week’s RICOH Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns brought an end to Scotland’s summer of showpiece occasions.

Unfortunately, the quite lamentable weather, which now routinely leaves June, July and the start of August as wet as Poseidon’s sou-wester, put a bit of a dampener on affairs. For golf clubs in general, the sombre sight of empty courses in the height of the season is an increasingly worrying trend.

On the tournament front, meanwhile, Mother Nature’s miserable meddling certainly doesn’t help matters. Neither does the worshipping at the altar of money-laden television networks in far off lands. Of course, sponsors and promoters are never going to turn down a lucrative chance to jump into the nest with the golden goose.

In a briefing with the press at the men’s Scottish Open last month, Martin Gilbert, the chief executive of title sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management, was unequivocal on his stance.

“For us it is all about TV,” said Gilbert, whose company has been a terrific backer of the Scottish game at all levels. “For the European Tour it is all about how many tickets they sell. I don’t care how many tickets they sell. We want the top players and TV for our name to be out there in the US.”

That’s all well and good - there are spin-off benefits for golf tourism too - but with spectator numbers hardly through the roof, as has been shown again in Scotland recently, it often doesn’t make for a wonderful spectacle.

The loyal footsoldiers in this country have a huge part to play in showcasing this national asset of golf but the admirable allegiance of the paying public can be taken for granted.

A combination of terrible weather - which we can’t do anything about - and tee-times pushed back to accommodate US television, among other things, can test this loyalty and resolve even further.

As far as this correspondent could see, the Women’s British Open was a delightfully staged event in all manner of aspects but with the inconvenience of the last group not finishing until 7.30pm on a dismal Sunday night it was hardly surprising that crowds were sparse.The Women’s Open also highlighted another concerning factor. Just who is going to fill Catriona Matthew’s shoes? The North Berwick veteran will be at the Solheim Cup as a European vice-captain but, having missed out on a wild card to play, there won’t be a Scot in the team for the first time in the event’s 27 year history.

From an initial entry of seven, the only home player to make the cut at Kingsbarns last week was Sally Watson. And she has now given up touring life to return to university.

The likes of Kylie Henry and Carly Booth, with four tour titles between them, have struggled to build on those triumphs while others are treading water on a limited European schedule.

On the amateur front, we’ve not had a Scot in the GB&I Curtis Cup training squad for a couple of years now while the flagship Ladies Scottish Amateur Championship attracted an entry of just 74, with only 18 playing off a handicap of scratch or better.

There’s clearly work to be done. Then again, you can only make hay while the sun shines. Perhaps it might pop out in September?


IT promises to be quite a week at the PGA Championship.

Jordan Spieth gunning for the career grand slam, Rory McIlroy trying to put a spanner in those works at his happy hunting ground of Quail Hollow, the in-form Hideki Matsuyama once again tempting us with the prospect of a first major win by a male golfer from Japan ...

Even the BBC are back in town having nabbed the TV rights from Sky in a major coup.

Golf needs exposure. It will be interesting to see the reach the Beeb’s free-to-air broadcast has. “Tired and outdated,” was how the R&A’s chief, Martin Slumbers, described the BBC’s Open coverage.

Those words could yet haunt him.