There’s no doubt about it. Catriona Matthew is an absolute treasure who really should be protected by the National Trust for Scotland.

Those flustered, flapping, frothing golf writers covering the heart-racing conclusion of the Solheim Cup, meanwhile, were probably beyond preservation by the time the cherished clump of crystal was held aloft by European captain Matthew.

The strained, anguish-laden face of this scribe, for instance, as I clattered away at the laptop and tried to put the majesty of Gleneagles into a remotely comprehensible collection of sentences, must have resembled the haunted rictus of someone peering into Sawney Bean’s cave for the first time.

Sunday night was one of those wonderfully flabbergasting sporting occasions which left all and sundry panting like bloodhound’s in a sauna.

For the aforementioned Matthew, it was the crowning glory as the Scot skippered Europe to a momentous win in her own backyard.

The 50-year-old remains one of Scotland’s greatest sportpersons, even though her achievements down the years have been woefully under-appreciated in many quarters.


Throughout a shimmering career of epic highs and historic endeavours, Matthew has continued to be so modest, she’ll probably not even mention herself in her own autobiography.

Rather like her approach to playing the game, Matthew’s captaincy was one of quiet yet bold authority.

She always maintained that the inclusion of the lightly-raced Suzann Pettersen (pictured) was never a gamble but, despite those insistences, it was still a huge call.

Matthew’s faith, of course, was jubilantly justified as the Norwegian delivered the winning point amid scenes of epic theatre that should have been directed by DeMille. Team golf rarely fails to enthral and entertain does it?

Against a US side which featured half-a-dozen rookies but still boasted a much higher collective world ranking, Matthew needed big contributions from her best players in order to upset the bookies in this united cause.

They would deliver. Of the seven Europeans who played four or more matches and whom Matthew relied on heavily, six of them came away with at least two points.

READ MORE: Catriona Matthew refuses to rule out captaincy return

In the team golf arena, where the fine margins of the game means that a skipper tends to straddle the line between captain fantastic or captain calamity and can be damned or deified in the stroke of a putt, the courage of Matthew’s convictions paid off handsomely. Don’t bet against her leading Europe again on American soil in 2021.

Sunday’s captivating, absorbing shoot-out showcased everything good about women’s golf, and golf in general.

As the celebrations erupted like Vesuvius when Pettersen’s winning putt dropped, the Norwegian made sure she immediately embraced her vanquished opponent, Marina Alex, before being engulfed by her team-mates. Respect and dignity remain a sturdy bedrock of this grand old game.

In the giddy euphoria, of course, it’s important not to simply gloss over the lingering and well-documented issues that continue to plague golf. Such has been the widespread muttering and cursing about slow play in recent years, there are probably village elders in the remotest tribes of Sarawak who sit round the fire of a night and occasionally lament golf’s plodding pace.

It was hardly surprising, therefore, that the Solheim Cup narrative over the first couple of days revolved around this particular topic.

Both captains conceded it was slow. Georgia Hall, the former Women’s British Open champion, said that she was growing increasingly frustrated and annoyed by fourballs creeping towards six hours. Could you blame her?

READ MORE: Davies backs Matthew for 2021 captaincy

Yes, it was high pressure stuff and yes, the conditions, especially on Saturday, were hellishly difficult but these drawn out palavers can render golf unwatchable at times.

In the on-going quest to inspire and win hearts and minds in a competitive market place, such an arduous spectacle does little for the game’s broader appeal.

Not for the first time, officials were found wanting. Players have to take responsibility but unless those in charge are going to back up their “zero tolerance” posturings with actual, decisive action then we will continue to go round in very slow circles.

Many high profile male golfers on the tour have, quite rightly, been the subject of much criticism for a creeping approach to golf. The women should not be immune to such ridicule either. For the betterment of the game as a whole, we’re all in it together.

Sunday’s showdown of sporting prowess, meanwhile, made for terrific viewing.

It was the kind of captivating occasion that deserved the widest possible audience but such a statement simply takes us back down the well-trodden path of golf’s exposure.

The chronic absence of the game on terrestrial television, for instance, continues to give it an out of sight, out of mind feel while other sports – and other women’s sport in particular – benefit from much greater mainstream coverage and championing.

That, in itself, is a huge disservice to golf and the terrific performers and characters the game possesses.

Already the rather trite buzzword “legacy” is being spouted by those looking to nurture and grow female golf in this country.

The Solheim Cup of 2019 provided a terrific platform. But the hard work starts now.