With the festive indulgence coming home to roost and playing havoc with the yuletide abdominal bloat, you’re possibly gazing wearily at these words while lolling on your couch like some lethargic walrus heaving, yawning and belching itself around the shingle.

As is now a sighing, eye-rolling tradition, your correspondent likes to mull over some of the quirks, curiosities and peculiarities of the golfing season in the annual abnormality awards; a cherished, long-standing ceremony that is as much a part of this time of the year as chronic heartburn and humdrum turkey curries. So, with a sense of anticipation that really should be accompanied by the rousing 20th Century Fox fanfare, let’s crack on …


Prize-giving ceremonies across the golfing lands are littered with the kind of bamboozling absurdities and madcap contraptions that you used to see scribbled in one of Heath Robinson’s notepads. Away from the venerated, ornate elegance of, say, the Claret Jug, a vast array of ornamental oddities now get thrust into the unsuspecting clutches of a tournament winner, who smiles for the cameras while muttering the words “what the hell is this?” through clenched teeth. In the 11-year history of this carbuncle celebration, last season’s winner will take some beating; the wooden carving of a cow with pendulous udders which was awarded to the champion of the Ladies Swiss Open. For 2021, we have opted for the guitar-inspired trophy presented to Phil Mickelson for his victory at the Constellation Furyk & Friends event (pictured). Rather like something handed to a musical tribute act on an edition of Stars in Their Eyes, Mickelson’s memento wasn’t quite the Plook on the Plinth, more the Pluck on the Plinth.


In this breathless modern world of emojis and text-speak, we regularly communicate with one another using as few words as possible. The arrival of this column on the sports desk, for instance, is often greeted with an astonished silence. Less is more, it seems. But not in golf. The presence of sponsors, backers, benefactors and presenting partners leads to a frenzy of elongated, wordy monstrosities that requires a promotional hoarding as long as the Bayeux Tapestry. While old, simple favourites like The Open or The Masters slip nonchalantly off the tongue like a well-sooked Barley Sugar, some of the preposterous current day mutations are as awkward to gouge from your mouth as a stubborn clump of nougat that’s wedged in your falsers. Having left no stone unturned in my global search for a quite titanic tournament title, the winner in 2021 comes from the Professional Golf Tour of India. Ladies and gentlemen, take a deep breath please for The TATA Steel PGTI MP Cup 2021 presented by Delhi Golf Club and supported by the Just In Time Sports Foundation. Good grief.


In this grand old numbers game that we play, some of us just about require the numerical literacy of the Association of Mathematicians as we attempt to count up our outward half. It’s always been a fickle pursuit hasn’t it? Some days, for example, you’ll cover the first four holes in a nine, a seven, an eight and a six … and other days you just can’t get a score going at all. Golfing calamity and chaos is not just the reserve of us ham-fisted howkers, of course. On the PGA Tour this season, the hapless Si Woo Kim hit five shots into the water on a par-3 en route to an eye-watering 13. The award for crippling catastrophe, however, goes to poor Amir Dastgir, whose stab at regional qualifying for The Open ended up producing a grisly scorecard which just about had to be checked behind a police cordon. Dastgir signed for a 30-over 102 at Hollinwell. A quick squint at his figures showed that the intrepid Dastgir had cobbled together a fairly solid round which was sullied by four pars. There’s always next year.


“All my life,” uttered someone, somewhere, “I’ve been trying to make a hole-in-one. The closest I’ve come is a bogey.” Sound familiar? The quest for this great rarity in golf would make the search for the Holy Grail look like a quick rummage in the scullery. But wait. Bristol club golfer Neil Watts has managed to defy the odds, and deliver a Harvey Smith salute to the golfing gods, with a haul of aces that should see him nicknamed the Red Baron. Having started playing the game as a five-year-old, Watts achieved his first hole-in-one at the age of 40 in June of this year. Just six months on, his tally now stands at a jaw-dropping11.

The secret to his hole-in-one success? “As every golfer will say, you just aim for the same place, the flag, and hope it goes where you want it to go,” he said.

For those of us who tend to watch those pesky dimpled balls going exactly where we don’t want them to go, hope – and diminishing hope at that - is all we have.

Happy new year when it comes, folks.