There’s just no getting away from politicians these days. Nicola Sturgeon, for instance, seems to be so omnipresent, I’m convinced I went for my morning shave and there she was, hosting my own reflection in the steamed-up mirror.

The grainy footage of Matt Hancock canoodling in his office, meanwhile, has now been seared on the retinas of the entire population and, as a spectacle, was marginally more excruciating than watching Lizette Salas and her caddie dithering over an approach into the ninth at the Women’s PGA Championship.

I don’t know if you caught any of Salas’ achingly deliberate play during the latest major of the season over the weekend but, my goodness, there were moments when she moved with about as much surging impetus as a canal boat gently meandering along the Norfolk Broads.

By the time Salas and her bagman had worked out the yardage, while drawing on just about everything from the breeze to ancient Aztec cosmology, her playing partners were almost covered in a light stoor of inactivity and were in danger of being mothballed.

The weekend also saw the start of regional qualifying for the forthcoming Open Championship as a giddy mix of hopefuls, dreamers and downright fantasists attempted to get through to today’s 36-hole final qualifier where only 12 places will be on offer for the St George’s showpiece.

As ever, there was a wonderful potpourri of scorecards, ranging from the inspired to the incomprehensible. It’s a bit like the returns at the Association of Golf Writers’ summer salver.

Poor old Amir Dastgir, for instance, had his shot at Open glory tempered somewhat by a 30-over 102 at Hollinwell. A quick squint at his figures showed that he had cobbled together a fairly solid round that was sullied by four pars. Oh well, there’s always next year.

The presence of a player by the name of Alison Perkins, meanwhile, created a little bit of history as she became the first transgender golfer to enter Open qualifying.

Given Perkins’ long personal battle with her own identity, and her wider struggle for acceptance, the fully qualified PGA coach would have viewed her 81 as something of a triumph. She was nowhere near the qualifying mark but merely playing was a major moment in her own journey.

Perkins identifies as a woman but she still met the criteria for entry as she is a registered male PGA professional. This was a step into very new, very complex and very emotive territory for The Open organisers and one, perhaps, that they had not envisaged.

Back in 2005, the R&A made an announcement that just about had the kind of seismic impact that obliterated the dinosaurs. The game’s heid honchos made an addition to the entry form for golf’s oldest major which included the word ‘female’.

The catalyst for change was provided by the exploits of a teenage Michele Wie who took up a series of invitations to play in men’s events and got excitable enthusiasts pondering some of the more outrageous possibilities of her largely futile endeavours.

If - and it was a preposterous ‘if’ - she had won, say, the 2005 John Deere Classic, an event which offered an Open place to a player not already exempt, the championship committee could not have denied her a place in the field. Indeed, they went on record to say so.

In 2006, therefore, the entry form for The Open changed although a robust criteria was set. The top five finishers from each of the previous year’s women’s majors would be granted an exemption into the regional qualifying stage, which is a bit like saying ‘now, there’s Everest, here’s some Kendal Mint Cake, good luck.’

Away from the initial hoopla and media-driven hype, the reality of the situation was that the women themselves simply weren't that interested. In the 15 years since that change to The Open entry was made, not one application from a female competitor had been received by the R&A. The good ladies, after all, have their own competitive matters to focus on without distracting themselves with some kind of wild golfing goose chase.

In a sense, then, Perkins became the unlikely trailblazer. It was, according to organisers, a one-off qualifying appearance from her as Perkins achieved a golfing ambition while her physical and psychological transition continues. The Open, whether it’s lifting the Claret Jug or merely having a crack at regional qualifying, has always been an event where dreams are realised. As for the entry form? In this evolving world, who knows what the future holds.


The strict measures in place for Open competitors has not gone down well with those pampered pros used to more liberal protocols on the other side of the pond. Players heading to Sandwich will have to remain in a tight bubble and stay in official hotels or self-catering homes with a maximum of four occupants. "No pubs, no restaurants, no grocery stores and no walking to the course. Crazy!,” whined one PGA Tour player. Welcome to the world of the golf writers who get stuck in some remote bolthole when everything else is booked up.

I can’t imagine players moaning about a week of inconvenience in a global pandemic will garner much public sympathy.