JUST as I sat down to start composing these weekly musings – a process which begins with purposeful, thrusting dynamism but quickly descends into a farcical palaver which leaves me hunched, stooped and contorted over my laptop like Quasimodo holding an agonised conversation with a pet mouse – I got a phone call from a London area code.

Having answered with a curious “hello?”, a very pleasant woman on the other end swiftly informed me that “the district nurse is on her way.” It was clearly a wrong number but, instead of simply telling her that she had perhaps dialled a rogue digit or two, what did your correspondent do? 

That’s right, I inexplicably embarked on some needless, bamboozling meander about medical assistance being gratefully received “as I’m having a hell of a fankle trying to write my Tuesday golf column” while blissfully ignoring the fact that some poor soul in the Haringey and Islington health board region was in genuine need of such services.

Having stopped short of asking her if she knew anything about the intricacies of the new World Handicapping System, we finally agreed that, “yes, I think you have called the wrong number” before exchanging some clumsy pleasantries and hanging up. 

I now have this image of a weary NHS receptionist leaning back in her chair, letting out a gasp of puffed-cheek relief and saying to her colleague, “Doreen, I’ve just listened to the ramblings of a quite preposterous man.”

All of which leads us nicely into President Trump. It’s already been a chaotic year throughout the world but the US election has brought some much-needed mayhem to the situation.

Amid all the politicking and placard-waving on the other side of the Atlantic, the enthusiastic endorsement of Trump by venerated golden oldie Jack Nicklaus sent vast swathes of golf fans into dewy-eyed dismay. 

I’m convinced that if you play a re-run of his ’86 Masters win, Nicklaus’ face will be pixelated to avoid offending viewers suddenly now questioning their reverence.

In a post on social media, the 18-time major winner urged the American people to vote for Trump while lauding the current occupant of the White House for being “more diverse than any President I have seen” and championing policies that will “bring the American Dream to many families across the nation.”

Four more years? Jack’s post should have been accompanied by a shriek of ‘fore!’ amid all the partisan, polarised tensions currently engulfing the US. It’s hardly a surprise that an extremely rich, 80-year-old-man, who has no doubt enjoyed Trump’s hospitality and savoured his tax cuts, would vote in such a way. 

Nicklaus is perfectly free to support whomever he wants but, in this most divisive, bitter campaign, the startling adulation of his message was all very disappointing and sigh-inducing for a legion of admirers reared on his inspiring feats, thrilling triumphs, dignified defeats and his special kind of American grace.

As for the wider impact on golf? Well, for a game that has been lumbered with the self-imposed shackles of racism, sexism and elitism down the years, the gushing, self-serving, public support of madcap Trump by arguably golf’s greatest exponent has simply added another dent to its reputational damage.

Given that various professional tours and bodies have spent the last few years distancing themselves from Trump – the R&A, for instance, have kicked Trump-owned Turnberry so far into the long grass, there’s more chance of The Open being held at the Budhill & Springboig Allotments – perhaps it would’ve been better had Jack just remained as hushed as Amen Corner on the whole subject.

The book ‘Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump’ documents the current US President’s dodgy duplicity on the course in all its unedifying glory. A foot wedge here, the brazen absurdity of a gimme chip there, the lies about his lies everywhere? “The caddies got so used to seeing him kick his ball back onto the fairway they nicknamed him Pele,” claims the author, Rick Reilly.

This great game has honour and integrity as its very bedrock. They are treasured values bereft in Trump. Nicklaus clearly thinks otherwise, though. Oh Jack …


Did you know that in mathematics, the Abel-Jacobi map is a construction of algebraic geometry which relates an algebraic curve to its Jacobian variety? Why, of course you did.

Now, do you know the ins and outs of the World Handicapping System? No? Oh well, it’s back to idle chit chat about Abel-Jacobi theorem then.

The WHS kicked in on these shores yesterday with club golfers across the land waking up with a different handicap to the one they had when they switched off the bedside lamp. 

The handicap index, as it is now known, is calculated from the best eight rounds from your last 20 scores. That will then translate into a course handicap, which will be different depending on the tees you’re playing from and the venue.

It’s a seismic shift and one that will, no doubt, have teething problems, glitches and creases to iron out. But the game of golf hasn’t changed. So just go out and enjoy it while you can. There’s enough to worry about these days.