Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? No? Well, you’d better get cracking because the big day is hurtling towards you like the mega-meteor that obliterated the dinosaurs.

In this gasping, crash, bang, wallop festive frenzy, let’s take a brief breather and reflect on the golfing year.


They said it couldn’t be done. But what do they know? Done and dusted, down and out, dead and buried? Tiger Woods was all that during a tumultuous period of personal, professional, physical, and psychological torment that saw him plumb the kind of bleak depths that tend to be the reserve of the Humpback Anglerfish.

Miraculously, he was alive and kicking again after his astonishing Masters conquest that gave him a 15th major title.This truly was one of sport’s greatest ever stories.



When Suzann Pettersen stood over a putt of about eight-feet on the final green of the final match of a thoroughly captivating Solheim Cup at Gleneagles, the overwhelming sense of nail-nibbling, hands-over-the-eyes tension was so incredible even the actual hole on the 18th was quivering with nerves.

Miss it and the USA would win. Make it and Europe would earn a thrilling triumph. It was all or nothing but, amid the intolerable suspense, the unwavering Pettersen produced a stroke of total authority and Catriona Matthew’s bold Europeans could celebrate a flabbergasting success.

Pettersen swiftly announced her retirement in the euphoric aftermath. Her final act was worthy of an Oscar.



Patrick Reed was certainly up there with his blatant act of cheating at the Hero World Challenge but Sergio Garcia’s pitiful petulance at the Saudi International was so awful, the Spaniard should have been sent to bed with no supper for the rest of the season.

With atrocious disregard for his fellow competitors, Garcia damaged more greens than a wonky freezer in the aisle of frozen peas and broccoli florets as he left scuff marks and even a divot on a variety of putting surfaces during an angst-ridden round which eventually led to his disqualification.

His actions were an utter embarrassment and the withering, wide-spread condemnation that followed was fully justified.



For those of us whose golf consists of a remorseless series of futile swipes, howks and gouges played out amid agonised wails of cursing, muttering self-loathing, the idea of actually smiling during a round is as alien a concept as life on Neptune.

In 2019, however, the infectiously cheery Hinako Shibuno made even the most sombre-faced hacker smile with her wonderful win in the AIG Women’s British Open as she announced her arrival on the world stage with grace, guts, giggles and glorious joie de vivre.

Even in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a major, the “Smiling Cinderalla” laughed with her caddie, high-fived spectators and beamed down the camera lens as she completed a magical sporting fairytale.



Heaving the kind of weight of expectation that would’ve buckled the legs of Finn MacCool, Rory McIlroy’s opening tee-shot in the

first Open on Northern Irish soil for 68 years was one of the biggest anti-climaxes known to man as it sailed out of bounds.

The Royal Portrush links has a 16th hole called Calamity and a 17th called Purgatory but McIlroy got a grim taste of both of those things at the very first hole as he racked up a quadruple bogey eight during an engrossingly appalling spectacle which really should have taken place behind a police cordon.



Robert MacIntyre’s rise to prominence made so many people sit up and take notice it was if he had just rattled them across the shins with his shinty stick.

The Oban left-hander put Scottish golf well and truly on the map again during an uplifting season in which he made the kind of prodigious leaps you’d get in the long jump pit.

En route to an eventual share of sixth on his Open debut, MacIntyre’s name briefly appeared at the top of the leaderboard on day one. The Scottish golf writers were just about reaching for the whisky … and he was only on the sixth tee. MacIntyre gave us plenty to toast in 2019.



There are some golf clubs in Scotland that are eking out such a hand-to-mouth existence, they make Oliver Twist look like Warren Buffett.

As traditional membership models become antiquated, golfing habits change and wider social and economic factors hit home, club closures are becoming par for the course in this Darwinian environment of survival of the fittest.

In 2019, the likes of Eastwood, Brunston Castle, Carrick Knowe, Mount Ellen, Camperdown and Dollar all bit the dust. More will, inevitably, follow in this savage, natural cull.



When this correspondent spoke to Heather MacRae earlier in the year and asked how the last few months had been, her reply was brutally succinct. “Hell,” she said. That’s what life with cancer tends to be.

As she faced up to her grim diagnosis with robust tenacity and fight, MacRae’s indomitable spirit shone through. She threw herself into her coaching, continued to compete and achieved her aim of playing in the PGA Cup just a few months after invasive surgery.

Let’s hope she continues to achieve her golfing goals in 2020.

More importantly, though, let’s hope for a clean bill of health. Merry Christmas.