‘Twas the column before Christmas, when all through the Rodger house, not a creature was stirring, because we were all frozen in hushed, tortured anguish waiting on the results of a bloomin’ lateral flow test.

Nothing gets you into the festive spirit quite like that jolly, yuletide tradition of shoving a swab down your thrapple and up your conk while ‘Good King Wenceslas’ plays along in the background.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. And what a wonderful year it’s been in golf. So, as I squidge a drop of gunk from my vial of fluid onto a test strip wreathed in tinsel, let’s pick out one or two moments from a rich tapestry.


What’s that noise in the background? Why it’s the sound of the golf world harrumphing itself hoarse after the England football team that didn’t win anything earned the BBC’s SPOTY team of the year award for, remember, not winning anything instead of Catriona Matthew’s Solheim Cup stars. Oh well. Who needs a four-turret lens camera on a plinth when you’ve got golf’s cherished clump of Waterford crystal on the mantelpiece?

Matthew’s status as a national treasure was bolstered in 2021 when the Scot steered her European side to a successful defence of the cup as the visitors won on American soil for only the second time in history.

“Thank you team, you made me look good,” said Matthew with typical modesty. It truly was a mighty team effort.


In this great generation game, Phil Mickelson’s victory in the US PGA Championship really was a win for the ages. At a sprightly 50-years-old, the veteran lefty rolled back those years to become golf’s oldest major champion. It was Mickelson’s sixth major title and his most improbable. In the circumstances, it was his greatest too as he made a mockery of the notion – one backed up by results – that he was slithering into competitive irrelevance on the main PGA Tour. The raucous scenes as he fought his way up a jam-packed 18th fairway towards the final green just about made a DeMille epic look like a modest gathering of three households under coronavirus measures. It was a remarkable sight in these strange times.


There have been some big comebacks in 2021. Even village elders of the remote Kuna Indian tribe knew that Tiger Woods was re-emerging in last weekend’s PNC Championship. And what about Annika Sorenstam’s eight-shot romp to glory in the US Senior Women’s Open, some 13 years after she’d retired from competitive golf? In the Amateur Championship, meanwhile, the spirited Laird Shepherd conjured one of golf’s greatest recoveries to win the unpaid game’s most prestigious prize.

Faced with the kind of daunting mountain to climb that just about required crampons and breathing apparatus, Shepherd clambered back from eight down after 17 holes of the 36-hole final - and four down with just four to play - to beat Monty Scowsill at the second extra-hole of a quite astonishing joust. Never give up eh?


Major championship golf never fails to deliver. Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese male golfer to win one of the grand slam crowns at The Masters, the wonderful Collin Morikawa seized the Claret Jug on his Open debut and Jon Rahm grabbed his maiden major at the US Open. On the female front, Carnoustie served up a cracker of an AIG Women’s Open. Anna Nordqvist took the ultimate honours but what a thrilling week West Kilbride amateur Louise Duncan gave us. Two shots off the lead with just one round to play, the prospect of the 21-year-old actually winning the thing had the golf writers panting and drooling like a St Bernard gazing through a butcher’s shop window. In the end, Duncan shared 10th and, as an amateur, missed out on a five-figure cheque. She banked some priceless memories, though.


There was plenty to stir the senses on the European Tour – I’ll get used to calling it the DP World Tour by 2026 – with Grant Forrest and Calum Hill striking victory blows for the Scots. As for merry old England’s Richard Bland? The 48-year-old has chiselled away at the tour coalface for so long, he’s just about covered in a dusting of soot but his maiden triumph at the 478th attempt in the British Masters was a delightfully heart-warming tale of valiant perseverance. The tearful finale just about had The Belfry greenkeepers bringing out the squeegees for the prize-giving ceremony.


The diminishing band of brothers and sisters in the golf media is a close knit, eclectic crew of all ages, shapes, sizes, qualities, quirks and charming absurdities. Losing two of our dearest members in Jock MacVicar and Renton Laidlaw brought dreadful sadness to 2021 but, my goodness, what lovely memories they left. At a time of year for quiet reflection, we will raise a tipple to a couple of fine gentlemen who enriched this job with their wonderful presence.

A happy and healthy Christmas to you all.