CAN you remember when the late Jeremy Beadle used to play all manner of pranks on unsuspecting members of the public and would tease them into a farcical rage before emerging from the sidelines, peeling off his disguise and informing them it was just a jolly jape amid great guffaws of hysterical laughter and torrents of bleeped out profanities?

Well, I’m clinging to the hope that something similar is going to happen in the next few days and the utter nicompoopery of Truss, Kwarteng and that lot will be unveiled as a massive, Beadle-esque practical joke and we’ll all cackle and curse with relief before somebody, with at least more political competence than a woodlouse, rides to the rescue.

I don’t know about you, but every time I switch on the news and see the current motley crew waffling away, my eyes are tormented by the kind of ghoulish visions of foreboding that’s akin to a hallucinating Macbeth glimpsing the ghost of Banquo.

It’s no laughing matter is it? For those golfers looking to inch themselves up the professional ladder, meanwhile, there’s not been much to smile about either. Now, there’s a mighty switch in topic that’s bigger than a Tory U-turn.

The news last week that the third-tier PGA EuroPro Tour, the developmental circuit that’s been running for 20 years, will cease to exist at the end of the season was a considerable bombshell.

“The economic landscape of increasing costs and the changing habits of the worldwide audience means that unfortunately there is no longer the support nor demand in the market to operate the PGA EuroPro Tour,” said the tour’s CEO, Dan Godding, in a missive sent round the houses. It was about as uplifting as reading the Protect and Survive pamphlet.

For the past two decades, the EuroPro Tour, like other European satellite tours such as the Alps Tour, the Pro Golf Tour and the Nordic League, has offered progression up the golfing pyramid with the top-five on the circuit’s order of merit earning promotion to the European Challenge Tour.

This month’s Tour Championship, the EuroPro’s final event, will be like a mad scramble to the lifeboats before the ship sinks as players try to elbow, kick, gouge and bite their way into that top five. Troon’s Michael Stewart is one of the lucky ones. He currently sits second on the rankings and has already secured a step up to the second-tier. He got out just in time but others will be left in something of a no man’s land.

As well all know, professional golf, at any level, can be a fierce, dog-eat-dog environment while the proliferation of pay-as-you-play circuits has coincided with a rapid increase in players making the plunge into the paid game.

Only a few from this vast army of hopefuls, wannabes and dreamers will go on to gain a solid foothold at the highest level while the rank and file will muddle about in the foothills. Have a quick squint down the current EuroPro Tour money list and you’ll see the sobering realities of life at this unforgiving coalface. Each event costs £295 to enter – plus a £1.95 admin charge, of course – and then you fling your expenses on top of that. There’s a lad languishing down near the bottom of the rankings who’s played 15 events in 2022 and has won just £280. Even the aforementioned Kwasi Kwarteng would choke at that kind of financial gamble.

There’s a harsh argument to say that the demise of a circuit like the EuroPro Tour may give some players a reality check when it comes to making a decision about turning professional. Have they really got what it takes to make it in this merciless business where any weakness is ruthlessly exposed?

On the other side of the ball marker, you certainly don’t want to deny golfers the opportunity to give it a go. Who am I, a mere scribbler who can barely handle the pressure of the garden hose let alone the duress of holing a six-footer to make a cut, to say that someone shouldn’t follow their dreams? Everybody has ambitions, no matter how fanciful they may be.

And what about those players who have been chipping away on the EuroPro Tour for a few campaigns but now find themselves cast adrift? Will they be lost to the game completely or will they venture forth and try their luck on the continental third-tier circuits or even further afield? This is a concerning, uncertain time for a significant number of professional golfers trying to make their way.

At the top of the tree, meanwhile, the money remains astronomical. The bottomless LIV Golf pit could probably finance 1000 EuroPro Tours out of the petty cash tin while the new PGA Tour season – yes, 2023 is here already folks – has an expanded monetary package that will see all full card holders who play in 15 events guaranteed a flat fee of $500,000. It’s a safety net, so if a player earns less than $500,000, the tour will make up the difference.

For those beleaguered EuroPro Tour campaigners who have been plunged into disarray, such financial fillips elsewhere illustrate the stark contrast between golf’s haves and have-nots.