WE are all muddling along in chaotic times so thank goodness the Black Friday sales came along to add some much-needed pandemonium to the general mayhem.

Do you fancy watching a so-called enlightened society kick, bite, elbow, punch, gouge, thwack and clobber itself closer to the abyss? Yes? Then place a ‘60 per cent off’ sticker on an Oral B electric toothbrush set, retreat to a safe distance and savour the frenzy unfolding as rampaging, manic hordes embark on the kind of fevered shelf-stripping that’s akin to a pack of shrieking Hyenas tearing away at the carcass of a Wildebeest. The Hyenas, of course, are marginally more civilized in their ravagings.

All of this fervour, however, was possibly quite timid compared to the frantic scenes at the tail end of last week as a raft of mainly UK and Ireland-based European Tour players – sorry, DP World Tour players (I knew this new name would take a bit of getting used to) - tried to evacuate South Africa at the last minute as the Joburg Open descended into havoc.

The panic whipped up by the Covid variant of Omicron, which sounds like a title sponsor of a new event on the DP World circuit, led to a mighty, logistical hassle that was broadly equivalent to getting everything loaded on to Noah’s Ark.

Scottish golfer Liam Johnston, for instance, was one of many who withdrew after Thursday’s first round as news of red lists and flight bans emerged. He was due to touch down in London for mandatory quarantine last night on a flight from Nairobi. Englishman Dale Whitnell, meanwhile, stated on social media that his travails were apparently costing him “£15,000 and counting.”

With the Joburg Open cut to 36-holes due to bad weather – three places on offer to next year’s Open at St Andrews were, somewhat awkwardly, still dished out – this week’s South African Open reduced to a Sunshine Tour event and the following week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship cancelled, all that was missing from the DP World Tour’s calamitous maiden voyage was an iceberg.

It was all very unfortunate and underlined the potential perils, pitfalls and palavers of playing a here, there and everywhere schedule in an on-going pandemic. But that’s life in the Covid age. For all the diligent, expensive and admirable work the tour has put in over the last 18 months to keep the circuit going through the tumult, the timing of this significant bump in the road could not have been worse in the first event of a “new era in global golf.”

The much-heralded 2022 season will now have to wait until 2022 has actually arrived to get going. And you can bet your boots there will be a few more of those bumps in the road. Yesterday, for instance, a cavalcade of star names from both the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour were confirmed for February’s Saudi International, putting them in direct conflict with their respective circuits.

By all accounts, the tour bosses will refuse to grant releases to their players to compete on the rival Asian Tour, of which the Saudi showpiece is part of, with the possibility of fines or suspensions being churned out amid the din of sabre-rattling from the heid honchos.

Rather like watching a variety of brutes embroiled in a gasping, panting arm wrestle, the power struggle at the top of professional golf goes on, driven along by great dollops of money.

The PGA Tour, wary of the financial muscles being flexed elsewhere, has just unveiled another hike of $100m to its own prize pot for next season. When an adversary comes along to shoogle the apple cart with wads of cash, what do you do? That’s right. You fling even more money at that cart to stave off the menace in this on-going game of thrust and counterthrust.

At this rate, Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, will probably get clonked on the head by a rolled-up bundle of dollars thrown in response by Greg Norman and his Saudi-backed agitators.

Interestingly, Lee Westwood, who is one of the names confirmed for the Saudi event, ruled himself out of the running to become Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain the other day. He was, by most folk’s reckoning, a shoo-in for the Rome role in 2023, but the Englishman announced that he still wants to compete as a player at the highest level.

The notion of a potential Ryder Cup captain, like Westwood, breaking rank and going against the tour’s hierarchy by playing in Saudi Arabia provides an intriguing twist to the tale. Other possible captains for 2023 and beyond, like Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia, are also on the list of Jeddah-bound players. Perhaps the lucrative Saudi carrot is so inviting, players are willing to sacrifice the opportunity of skippering Europe at some stage?

The perceived line of succession has been disrupted by Westwood lifting his hat out of the ring again. At this rate, we might have to bring Bernard Gallacher back to steady the ship.

Whether it’s Ryder Cup captaincy conundrums, pesky Covid variants or rival tours trying to woo players with vast sums, there could be some choppy waters to negotiate in the new year.