You’ve probably noticed that there’s a heck of a lot of cycling stuff going on just now. In fact, there are so many folk birling around the parish on bikes, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to stop reading this very sentence just for a moment to allow a bloomin’ peloton of a road race to whiz across the page.

Have they hurtled through yet? Yes? Right, let’s crack on before they come thundering by again. Oh, for goodness sake, here they are already.

I’ve decided that everything these days has to be big and loud. Sorry, BIG and LOUD! The Open Championship, for instance, is a vast beast and, for a fairly old-school observer like myself, probably just too vast. Like a lot of showpiece events now, it’s populated by a growing army of hark-at-me exhibitionists, boorish, half-sozzled oafs, and their swaggering, ‘oi, oi’ pals. And no, I’m not talking about the golf writers here.

Anyway, after the jam-packed, lairy lads rammy of the Hoylake Open, which I know from first-hand accounts startled some Hoylake members, as well as high-ranking officials, the Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links, provided such a gust of welcoming fresh air, it could’ve registered on the Beaufort Scale.

As a spectating experience, it was, in many ways, one for the purists; a gentle, civilised, welcoming arena for simply watching golf. Ok, the crowds were not massive – getting big numbers through the gates for anything other than, say, an Open or a Scottish Open is a challenge in a country spoiled for golfing choice - but they were decent enough and the atmosphere was one of enthusiastic, knowledgeable appreciation. 

Throw in largely helpful weather and it made for an excellent tournament. Hopefully, the deal with Dundonald can be extended because it feels like the Women’s Scottish Open now has an established and popular home.

As I twiddled my thumbs at the mixed zone interview area – there’s a lot of waiting around at a golf event, you know – I watched a number of young spectators eagerly queueing for an autograph. From a player that is, not me. The only adulation I got came from some curious gentleman craning his neck over the barrier and saying, ‘look, there’s that bastion of The Herald’. Well, I think he said bastion.

But I digress. Watching these cheery young souls interact with world-class golfers – and there were eight of the global top-12 at Dundonald – showed that the game often needs nothing more than its marquee players to be, how they say, ‘cool’ in the eyes of a new generation. 

Golf occasionally hires celebrity figures or faces from other sports in an attempt to attract a wider core audience. Promotional bumf for this week’s AIG Women’s Open, for example, has an ex-England women’s footballer saying how great female golfers are. It can, at times, feel a bit naff and, dare I say it, desperate. If golf can’t use the bountiful, colourful characters within its own realm to champion its cause, then it really does have issues.

I suppose this is all part of the ongoing fight for relevance, though. As various female pursuits flourish in the mainstream and garner unprecedented levels of coverage - look at the women’s football World Cup or the netball World Cup that was just on - golf continues to muddle on in the margins and tends to miss the tailwinds that gust behind other women’s sports.

But let’s not end on a downbeat note. I’m still enjoying that breath of fresh air from Dundonald.


It’s been a couple of months now since the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund which bankrolls the LIV Series announced a proposed alliance in a stunning announcement that led to every single jaw in the golf industry dropping to the floor.

The clandestine nature of the discussions stunned all and sundry and trust in Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, went flying out of the window. “If this happened in my day, in my prime, there’s no way he (Monahan) is around, no way,” said Ernie Els during an outspoken rant at The Open where he made his feelings about the embattled tour chief abundantly clear. “And the board has to change. You do s*** like this? I’m sorry, it’s not right."

Well, the shake-up continued last week when Tiger Woods joined the PGA Tour’s policy board as the circuit’s top brass agreed “new governance and transparency measures” with its players. Six of that 12-strong panel which decides how the tour is run is now made up of high-ranking players.

Woods may not be playing much golf these days due to his on-going rehabilitation from his latest surgery, but his mighty presence on the board will make as big an impact as his 15 major wins.

Woods, who had made it clear last year that he was very much against the whole LIV movement, opted to remain silent amid the pandemonium that greeted June’s news of a proposed merger of warring factions. Now that he’s on the board, I’m sure he’ll have plenty to say. Players don’t get more powerful than Woods. And player power on the tour has now flexed a huge muscle. How long Monahan lasts, meanwhile, is anyone’s guess.