• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Beyond the Ryder Cup: more memories of a splendid golfing year . . .

Hands up how many of you thought that, by the year 2013, we would all be living under domed cities in the sky, careering about on hover boards and wearing shiny, silver space suits?

Me neither. We just continue to muddle on as before, busying ourselves with mundane chores, walks in the park and frequent frowning.

Amid all of this, golf comes along to rouse the senses. And what a year it was for that. The comebacks of the Ryder Cup and the Curtis Cup, the transatlantic conquests of Rory McIlroy, the renaissance of Paul Lawrie . . . magical moments that have been reviewed, replayed and revisited countless times over the past few weeks.

Like the festive turkey, there's not much to pick at, so let's have a guddle among the leftovers.

THE TROPHY THAT DOESN'T WIN ANY PRIZES

The Claret Jug, the Ryder Cup, the Hollandbush Veteran Women's Rosebowl; cherished accolades that are all majestic in their sheer simplicity. Of course these days, those charged with chiselling out a golfing trophy seem to have been overwhelmed by the kind of eye-watering gaudiness not seen since Liberace went guising.

From such slap-dash hands has emerged a new bit of kitsch on the block. Scott Jamieson's maiden European Tour triumph in last month's Nelson Mandela Championship was a wonderful moment for Scottish golf but, my goodness, did you see what was thrust into his clutches at the prize giving? Not really a trophy, more one of those figurines you'd send away for with a coupon from the People's Friend.

MOST EAGERLY ANTICIPATED PRESS CONFERENCE OF 2013

The Royal & Ancient's pre-Open Championship press briefing in the spring is always an eagerly awaited affair. A select band of golf writers are given the opportunity to desecrate the hallowed turf of the championship venue with a variety of duffs and howks before being wined, dined and entertained with a series of Victorian parlour games by the St Andrews supremos.

This season's gathering will be at Muirfield, host venue to the Open in July and a club that, to most casual observers, is as stuffy as a taxidermist's oxster. Last August, the heid-bummers at Augusta National announced that they would be allowing female members for the first time. That sparked a frenzy on this side of the Atlantic as a metaphorical mob gathered at the doors of the R&A clubhouse demanding change here too. Come April's media get together at male-dominated Muirfield, Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the game's governing body, will no doubt sit and defend the R&A's own men-only membership.

Or perhaps the times they are a changing? Watch this space.

THE SHOT OF THE YEAR

Was it the nerveless putt by Martin Kaymer that completed Europe's Miracle of Medinah? Or perhaps it was Bubba Watson's audacious hooked wedge from a tangle of trees en route to Masters glory at Augusta?

For the kind of mystifying moment that, for the high-handicapper, makes this anguish-laden game all worthwhile it had to be Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps' ludicrous 153-foot putt at Kingsbarns during October's Dunhill Links Championship. The decorated dooker's ball took 17 seconds to trundle into the hole and sparked the kind of astonished celebration that many a club hacker will have experienced after conjuring that one moment of magic amid a lifetime of golfing madness.

THE BIGGEST KNEE-JERK REACTION OF THE SEASON

If the world we live in is good for one thing, then it's knee jerk reactions of quite staggering proportions. Whether you get your message across via Twitter, Facebook, a smoke signal or a crude etching carved onto the beak of a passing goose, the opportunity to leap on to a soap box and angrily shake your fist has never been greater.

When a variety of cosmetic changes to the Old Course were unveiled at the tail end of the year, the bandwagon hurtled along at a terrifying pace. In a wonderful demonstration of jaw-dropping over-reaction, players, golf course architects and self-promoting, ego-massaging internet bloggers launched a thunderous offensive amid a haze of misty-eyed, romantic sentiment.

And the result of all this huffing and puffing? Everybody calmed down and the world kept spinning.

THE GOOD-THINGS-COME-TO-THOSE-WHO-WAIT AWARD

What do English veteran Roger Chapman and an autumn crocus have in common? Yes, that's right, they're both late bloomers. Funnily enough, appallingly corny gags like that were outlawed on these fair isles back in 1959, the same year Chapman was born. In the summer of 2012, this journeyman professional finally blossomed into a major winner at the age of 53 when he won both the Senior PGA Championship and the US Senior Open during a magical, uplifting spell between May and July. Not bad going for a man who plundered his one and only European Tour title, the Brazil Open of 2000, in his 472nd start on the main circuit.

Chapman was coached and mentored by the celebrated Scot, George Will, who sadly passed away a couple of years ago. "He was my father figure," reflected Chapman. "He had belief in me and never took a penny for a lesson, not one penny."

The memories of his 2012 campaign will remain priceless.

Happy new year, folks.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

133282