There was a time when families, possibly even entire streets, would huddle around a box known as the television and gaze in boggle-eyed wonder at a variety of moving images while letting out audible, slack-jawed gasps of astonished reverence.

These days, of course, the way we absorb this, that and the other on a variety of gadgets, gizmos and gee-whiz contraptions makes the humble old idiot box look about as technologically advanced as the porcelain chamber pot.

Laptops, smart phones, tablets? You name it, we all seem to be drawn to the light of a touch-pad screen which at least proves once and for all that we are actually descended from moths.

Give it a couple of years and live coverage of the Solheim Cup will probably be downloaded straight into our brains via some elaborate USB port carved into the nape of our necks.

The reason I bring all of this up is that I was scrolling though some online comments about television coverage of said Solheim Cup and digesting all the moaning, groaning, howling and harrumphing about highlights of the biennial tussle only being on the BBC at yon time at night.

We all know that the Beeb’s largely barren golf portfolio now makes Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard look like Borough Market and the disappearance of live coverage down the seasons has often led to the kind of wistful yearning that should be accompanied by a colliery brass band tootling a lament of nostalgic melancholy.

I was often of the opinion that certain sports which get exposure and presence on terrestrial television gain a clear benefit in terms of public consciousness. Golf on subscription channels, meanwhile, is essentially preaching to the converted, not spreading the gospel.

But that’s perhaps just me being something of an out of touch fuddy duddy. I probably think the youth – and nothing underlines your own slide into crotchety middle age quite like the use of the phrase “the youth”– still get their current affairs from John Craven’s Newsround.

Golf has never been more focussed on engaging with new audiences than now. The R&A, for instance, has transformed itself from an operation that was as stuffy as a taxidermist’s scullery to an extremely progressive organisation. Not before time, of course.


The future of golf lies not with those of us who perhaps still hold cherished memories of watching, say, the BBC’s dawn till dusk Open coverage and being inspired to go out and thwack a bit of coal with an old stick as the sun sets. It’s a generation who are online, plugged in, switched-on or whatever crushingly awkward phrase a 40-something man can muster in an attempt to sound, er, with it. And they’ll certainly not be leafing through the Radio Times and circling when things are on the TV.

The Solheim Cup was being streamed live and free on YouTube. You could watch the Women’s Open, the Scottish Women’s Open, the Curtis Cup, the Amateur Championship and all sorts of golf that way too. For the current generation, the idea that the only way to view the Solheim Cup, for example, is to stay up and watch the BBC highlights in the witching hour is as antiquated as the stove pipe hat.

Footage, analysis, clips here and snippets there of golfing events are readily available in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it abundance. And if you do blink and miss it, then it will still be available at your fingertips. The Masters website, for example, allows you to watch every shot of every single player during the tournament and is such a comprehensive, all-bases-covered resource, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2022 Augusta showpiece features a camera inside the sleeve of the green jacket to capture the winner’s arm sliding into its shimmering embrace. Sleeve-Cam? Watch this space, it’s coming.

Rather like the different ways many people experience the actual game – going to driving ranges, simulators and golf entertainment facilities rather than the traditional green-grass offerings – the way we consume it continues to evolve. Ask a teenager “do you watch terrestrial TV?” and they’ll look at you as if you’re wearing a medieval tunic. The long-standing issues of getting new blood into golf are far more deep-rooted than a lack of coverage on the ‘cooncil tele’.


We’re on the back straight as far as the qualifying race for the European Ryder Cup team is concerned. Padraig Harrington’s side will be finalised at the end of this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth with the Irishman also naming his three wild cards on Sunday night.


There are possibly a dozen players who could still pinch an automatic berth with a win, or a very strong finish, in the European Tour’s flagship event. Oban’s Robert MacIntyre is among that number but it’s a mighty ask. And as for the Scot gaining a captain’s pick?

The European skipper has been impressed by the young lefty and rightly so but when you’ve got sturdy stalwarts like Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose in the wild card equation, you feel that Harrington will go with the tried and tested. The changing of the European old guard will have to come at some point. It probably won’t be this year, though.