Golf never fails to fascinate and flummox. There are days, for instance, when you’ll start with a nine, a seven, an eight and a six … and other days when you just can’t get going at all. Sound familiar?

In the quest for something resembling a half decent swing, an onerous task that generates the kind of foul-mouthed tirades you’d hear coming out of Priti Patel’s office, I’ll occasionally adopt the time-honoured technique employed by the great Sam Snead who would quietly hum The Blue Danube to maintain a delightfully smooth and rhythmic stroke.

That’s easier said than done, of course. With swipes that often display about as much elegant timing as a hurried toilet break at a dingy motorway service station, the increasingly fraught nature of golf at my level doesn’t really lend itself to the measured cadences of a Strauss waltz. It’s more like the fevered, outlandish pandemonium of the theme tune to The Benny Hill Show to be brutally honest.

If it’s sweet golfing music you’re after then the news at the tail end of last week that Tiger Woods and his 11-year-old son, Charlie, will be teaming up in the PNC Championship next month just about had eager observers bursting into a great chorus.

The end-of-season get together in Florida, which sees major champions compete alongside their children, is one of those high-fiving, smile-for-the-camera, hit-and-giggle occasions that’s a bit like a golfing Family Fortunes. The presence of Woods and his heir, though, will add a considerable dollop of intrigue to proceedings. Widespread attention is understandable.

The most television exposure young Charlie has received thus far was at Augusta in 2019 when Woods wrapped him in his arms after winning the Masters. It was his 15th major victory, but the first his son saw him win. Next month’s outing will be Charlie’s first under the bright lights. Hello world.

Back in January, when life seemed so carefree and folk thought Covid-19 was the latest shuttle to be launched from Cape Canaveral, internet footage, filmed from behind a shrub, of Woods standing on a driving range as his son eased into a swing that was smoother than a collection of Nat King Cole albums caused hand-flapping hysteria.

“It’s a major-winning swing,” cooed the masses with predictable, knee-jerk giddiness. A few weeks ago, meanwhile, more footage of the Woods duo practising in perfect harmony demonstrated again that Charlie, unsurprisingly, has a natural flair for this game. That he won a couple of junior events in Florida during the summer added to the growing curiosity.

Tiger’s own dad, Earl, pursued publicity for his son the moment he could hold a club. From a very young age, Tiger did not lead a normal existence and, in subsequent years, embarked on an endless yet fruitless pursuit of anonymity away from the golf course. It’s hardly surprising that Tiger has adopted a more protective approach to his offspring in this age of mass exposure and unhinged hype.

Old and Young Tom Morris set a fairly formidable pace when it came to faither and son golfers back in the day. Eight Open wins between them was a prolific haul, after all.

On the other side of the ball marker, Gary Nicklaus, son of the 18-time major winner Jack, spent years chipping away at the pro coalface in a career defined more by trips to the PGA Tour’s qualifying school than any notable successes.

Family fame and fortune is certainly no guarantee of success in this furiously capricious pursuit. At 11, like a lot of young lads and lassies, Charlie Woods is, in his dad’s words, “starting to get into it.” Unlike all the other lads and lassies getting into golf, though, he’s the son of a global superstar and arguably, the game’s greatest ever player. Good luck to him.


How’s life in Tier Four then? Or maybe you’re in Tier Three? Or perhaps you’re lording it up in Tier Two? Wherever you are in Scotland, at least you’re still able to play golf. And the tiers? Well, it’ll be the tears in your eyes as you knife another one into the burn no doubt.

The Royal & Ancient game has been something of a socially-distanced success story in this deflating year.

With a few behavioural, health-conscious modifications before, during and after a round, it has provided thousands with some soothing escapism from the pandemic while remaining a tonic for body and mind in times of desperate need.

For our friends in England, Ireland and Wales, there have been harsh – some would say needless – golf restrictions in recent weeks. You can go for a walk on a closed course, for instance, but you can’t go for a walk on the same course with your clubs?

Golf will resume south of the border next week and, rather like the end of restrictions up here earlier in the year, a popular and immediate reaction on social media was “so, can I have my fourball?”

Golfers are great creatures of habit but, in this year of shattering tumult, patience and perspective is often in short supply. In whatever form you can play, just be glad you can.