Nothing underlines the ravages of the ageing process quite like buying a bottle of plonk at the supermarket and putting it through the self-service scanner before said machine bleeps to say that approval is needed and a check-out assistant appears at your side, takes one look at you and selects the ‘visibly over-25’ button with the poke of a dismissive, withering finger.

Now, I know I’m 47 and clearly over-25 – that byline picture up here shows that I’m clearly over the hill too – but I’ve always thought this visibly over thingamajig delivers a rather damning judgement.

I mean, the young staff member who recently dealt with my purchase of the weekend’s libations the other day glanced at me with the same kind of peering curiosity you’d adopt when examining an ancient shard of flint.

In her eyes, I was so wizened and antiquated, I may as well have been standing there wearing a stovepipe hat while asking about the availability of a bloomin’ turnspit dog. How others see us, eh?

Time, as they say, marches on. In fact, it often feels like it’s trampling us into the ground, doesn’t it?

If you’re ‘visibly over-25’ then I’d be intrigued to know what you make of the latest golf venture that’s set to burst onto the scene in the new year.

You’ve possibly heard of the Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy-led TGL, an all-singing, all-dancing professional golf league that will combine cutting edge technology that this correspondent will not even attempt to elaborate on with some of the PGA Tour’s biggest names in a made-for-television bonanza.

Competitors will blast away into a vast simulator screen housed in a purpose-built arena while shots from 50 yards in will be played to real greens. It’ll be all the fun of the fair. And yes, you’ve got it in one, it’s being branded as another way to ‘grow the game’ and build on golf’s place in this fast-paced, whiz-bang age of gadgets and gizmos.

With Woods and McIlroy at its vanguard, TGL also has mighty US power brokers on board like the Fenway Group, the company that has Liverpool FC in its huge sporting portfolio, as well as basketball great, Steph Curry, and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.

There is no shortage of heavy weight backers in this latest enterprise to capture the hearts and minds of a different audience that demands instant gratification and easily digestible sporting fare.

Let’s face it, most sports, in some way, are wrestling with their own modernisation battle. In the US last year, for instance, more folk played golf off course – on simulators, at entertainment facilities or at driving ranges – than on an actual course. In a few years’ time, the golf simulator industry is predicted to be worth over $3 billion.

TGL, then, is all about expanding golf’s reach and tapping into new markets. We’ve heard all this before, of course. When the breakaway LIV Series barged its way onto the scene the other year, it was going to do all this and more. The trouble is, nobody really watches it.

TGL at least has Tiger Woods. And, as most people know, for any venture to succeed, then Woods has to be involved, even though he’s hurtling towards 50 and has a body that’s as fragile as Suella Braverman’s job prospects. Woods doesn’t just move the needle in terms of interest. He is the needle. Still.

The problem for golf is that its superstars – with the exception of Woods and to a lesser extent McIlroy – can’t really hold a candle to the superstars of other sports.

Mosey on down into the remote jungles of Sarawak and you’ll probably stumble upon a village elder wearing a Lionel Messi shirt, a Ronaldo top or a Steph Curry vest.

I’m being slightly outlandish here but you get the idea. These sportspeople, and these sports, have a reach across cultures and continents. Scottie Scheffler, the world No 1 in golf who hasn’t actually signed up for TGL by the way, could walk down just about any high street on the planet and nobody would bat an eyelid.

Outside the golfing bubble, its main players don’t really make much of a dent. In a global sense, golf is pretty niche.

So, will TGL be a goer or just another gimmick? Well, let’s give the thing a chance. It’s not started yet. Being something of a cynic – a visibly over-25 cynic you could say – I’m never totally convinced about these attempts, admirable as they are, to make golf something that it’s not. I’m willing to eat my stovepipe hat, though.


The latest tweaks to the World Handicapping System (WHS) were unveiled last week – you may have heard the scream from behind the door of the handicap committee’s room – and the Expected Score change has generated plenty of discussion.

It’s an adjustment to the way nine-hole scores are upscaled to 18-holes. It’s also a change to how any holes not played during a round, for whatever reason, are dealt with.

In a nutshell, the supercomputer behind WHS will automatically fill in the gaps on the holes you don’t play based on your handicap index.

Expected Score? Cor blimey. My golf is such a torrid tale of the unexpected, I’ll end up crashing the entire WHS system.