Golf, as somebody once observed, can best be described as an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle.

Funnily enough, that’s what the sports editor often says about the Tuesday column.

In last week’s efforts, we reviewed the hits and misses of a terrific golfing year.

As we stumble towards 2020, with all the elegance of a high-handicapper putting out for an 11, let’s take a sideways glance at some of the more curious elements from 2019.


Compared to some of the modern monstrosities that now pass as spoils of golfing war, the treasures and plunder of yonder times of yesteryear truly are a joy to behold.

Championship convenors in ye day would think nothing of nailing an entire galleon to a decorative plinth and presenting it at the conclusion of the Admiral Fordyce Montague de Courcey Maritime Memorial 36-hole Stableford.

Have a peek, for instance, at the prestigious Edward Trophy, that triumphant, ornate shield which stands resplendently in the Gailes Links clubhouse, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it also comes with a lance and mounted cavalry.

These days, of course, prize giving ceremonies at golf tournaments are littered with the kind of madcap contraptions, absurdities, curiosities and eccentricities that used to be housed in Heath Robinson’s potting shed.

The winner, then, of this yearly carbuncle is the trophy awarded to Peter Fowler at the Staysure Tour’s MCB Tour Championship (pictured above) which is basically an oversized coffee bean that even Gareth Hunt, that debonair granule shoogling star of the Nescafe adverts in the 80s, would have struggled to get in two hands let alone his clenched fist.

To the casual observer, of course, the coffee bean trophy bears more than a passing resemblance to, well, a bear’s bottom. Not so much Gold Blend, more a**e end?


In the money-soaked modern era, the increasing role of sponsors, backers, big bucks and benefactors often leads to a profusion of garbled, clumsy and wordy tournament titles that are as awkward on the tongue as a conversation between the girl who sells sea shells on the sea shore and Susie in the shoeshine shop who sits and shines and shines and sits.

If events are not being Presented By this, then they are In Association With that as tournament names get extended to the point where they almost resemble that sign at the Welsh train station of Llanfairpwllgwy-ngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Nobody, for instance, will forget the LPGA Tour’s exhausting ‘The Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Jalisco It Happens Within You’ event from 2011. Indeed, that particular abnormality has never been topped in the eight years of this made-up award.

In 2019, meanwhile, the winner comes from the Champions Tour. Remember when you were a young ‘un and thought to yourself “this for The Open” as you stood over a putt? Simple wasn’t it?

Well, we doubt any starry-eyed dreamer will ever size up a five-footer and whisper ‘this for The Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge Tournament’.


We are constantly being told that golf is slow. So slow, in fact, that there are pre-shot routines which last so long, the player performing these prolonged plooterings ends up in a light coating of dust.

Amid all the whip-cracking, cajoling and wide-spread lambasting of the game’s slow coaches, Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz took an altogether different approach to the issue and as a result sprinted away with this particular award.

Contesting the Latin American Amateur Championship, the group Ortiz was playing in was put on the clock. Fearing a penalty, Ortiz opted for a ‘damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead’ advancement after putting out on the 12th.

While his partners were polishing up on that green, Ortiz was already driving off on the 13th and was playing his second shot just after his startled, wheezing companions had clattered their tee-shots. At this point, an R&A official had to step in and tell Ortiz that he was playing too quickly. Ortiz would go on to win the title and earn a place in the 2020 Masters.

He’s actually on the third green of his first round at Augusta National as we speak.


We have all endured those quite appalling, torturous days of remorseless futility on a golf course which leaves us emitting the kind of high-pitched, agonised shrieks not heard since The Bee Gees went for an all-over body wax.

It takes a special kind of spirit – although a cheap half bottle will suffice – to keep the heid amid such withering ineptitude.

Trey Bilardello, meanwhile, is a single-handicap golfer of admirable aptitude. That he shot a staggering 202 during an 18-hole qualifier for the US Amateur Championship spoke more for his mental state than the state of his overall game.

After a par-par start, a triple bogey had the red mist descending before a 10 plunged him into the pits of furious despair.

At this point, he self-sabotaged his round with all the subtlety of an artillery bombardment and began playing away from the hole, chipping around the tee and doing anything in his power to add strokes to his card in an anguish-laden attempt to “shoot the highest recorded score in USGA history.”

Bilardello was disqualified for “serious misconduct” and “failing to play in the spirit of the game”. His 202 would probably still win The Herald sports desk’s winter outing.

Happy New Year, folks.