Grinning, self-satisfied celebrity chefs, salivating over their festive feasts, feverishly sprinkling their seductive seasonings and smugly telling us, the awestruck masses, how to cook the perfect Christmas dinner.
And what do we do when confronted by these culinary commands? We recklessly attempt to follow them, knowing fine well that our own, pitiful turkey will end up as dry as a drouthy camel in a sawmill.
Amid all the Olivers, the Blumenthals and the Fearnley-Whitdoyoucallits, the idiot box has also been awash with golf, golf and more golf. And it has been a bewildering occurrence. Seven days before Christmas and the leading exponents of the Royal & Ancient game were still battering away.
Just over a week ago, the regular European Tour season drew to a conclusion with an utterly enthralling Dubai World Championship. Alvaro Quiros’ swashbuckling approach to the last, and his raking eagle putt which sealed victory and thwarted the spirited challenge of Paul Lawrie, provided a fitting finale to a captivating campaign.
It would have been nice to sit down, catch our breath and reflect on the year. It is December after all. Yet, as the Dubai dust settled, we found that Luke Donald was off to the PGA Tour of Australasia for the JBWere Masters in Melbourne and Lee Westwood was headlining a field in the inaugural Thailand Championship. And so it roared on.
Back in the day, most folk knew where they stood with regards to the golf season. It started with the Masters in April and ended with the World Matchplay in late September, early October. Now, one campaign merges into the next and the term “golf season” has long since been consigned to the scrapheap.
Such was the frenzy to shoe-horn events into the European schedule this year, the Alfred Dunhill Championship and the South African Open actually featured twice on the 2011 calendar, having teed-off the tour’s programme of tournaments in December 2010 before being played again last month.
We are now, mercifully, in the midst of a much-needed break but, the new year hangover will have barely subsided before everybody swings back into action again in the first week of January. It has to be the shortest off-season in sport.
The European circuit resumes in just over a fortnight with the Africa Open while the PGA Tour gets up and running again over that same weekend with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
You won’t hear the leading lights complaining about the hectic timetable, though. Global golfers are quite used to a year-long schedule and, as the lucrative Asian market continues to mature, there will be no sign of easing up. The top brass can dip their toe in any water, make their own schedule and create their own financial opportunity. Given the economic climate, they are happy to continue playing, essentially, wherever and whenever they like.
At the weekend, English golf, riding the crest of a wave thanks to the rise of Donald, ended the “season” on a high as Westwood romped to victory in Thailand and Ian Poulter came out on top down under. There was even an English 1-2-3 in the European Tour’s qualifying school final last Thursday.
On the home front, Gary Orr, at 44, and Steven O’Hara, aged 31, did superbly to finish among the top-10 qualifiers to secure a swift return to the tour. Yet, the failure of the much-vaunted next generation to make an impact in the Q-school process, and the fact there will not be a new Scottish face on the main circuit in 2012, was as bitterly disappointing as that bone-dry turkey.
AND ANOTHER THING
Things have not been easy for America’s female golfers recently. As the Asian surge on the professional game, spearheaded by the all-conquering Tseng Yani, continues, the good ladies from across the Atlantic have struggled to keep pace.
Perhaps Lexi Thompson’s victory in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at the weekend can have a galvanising effect.
At the age of 16, she became the youngest professional winner on the Ladies European Tour, three months after she became the youngest winner in the LPGA circuit’s history after claiming the Navistar Classic in Alabama.
It’s been a sluggish season for the US girls. They lost the Solheim Cup to a resurgent Europe for the first time since 2003 while Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis, in addition to Thompson, were the only other American LPGA Tour members to win on the circuit, the worst showing in the tour’s 62-year existence.
Thompson will have to get used to a very heavy burden of expectation being lumped on to her shoulders next year.