As we haul ourselves into a new year with about as much gusto as the three-toed pigmy sloth embarking on yet another futile mating ritual, it’s time to have a final keek back to 2023 and dish out the annual awards for golf’s quirks and curiosities. 

Astonishingly, these back page honours have now been going for 14 seasons. In that time, they have attracted an impressive array of critical appraisals ranging from ‘a crushing irrelevance’ to ‘a complete affront to the 240-year history of The Herald’. It’s this kind of nourishing, morale-boosting feedback that keeps us going …


If you thought the town planners of the post-war era created some hideous monstrosities, then think again. In the world of golf, prize giving ceremonies are littered with a variety of ghastly plooks on a plinth that would make Cumbernauld centre look like the Piazza Navona.

Whether it’s a carved peculiarity here or a sculpted absurdity there, the sight of the chief executive of a tournament’s headline sponsor handing over a quite bewildering bauble to the flabbergasted champion can be as awkward an exchange as a flustered husband hastily paying for some lingerie at an Ann Summers checkout counter.

The winner, then, of the 2023 carbuncle award comes from down under and the prize given to the champion of the Northern Territory PGA Championship (pictured).

Why dream of lifting the Claret Jug when you can plonk a crocodile skull with a ba’ in its gob on your mantelpiece? Remarkable stuff.


When you were a young ‘un, you probably stood over a putt and whispered to yourself, ‘this for The Open’. And promptly missed. Nevertheless, the simple majesty of that cherished title, The Open, would glide off the tongue as effortlessly as a well-sooked Soor Ploom.

These days, of course, golf schedules are awash with garbled tournament names that go on as long as the announcement of the stops on the Glasgow to Penzance cross-country train route.

While ‘The Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Jalisco It Happens Within You’ from the 2011 LPGA Tour holds this award in perpetuity, the 2023 winner comes from the Professional Golf Tour of India.

The next time you stand over a putt, one assumes you’ll not be uttering the inspiring words, ‘this for the Bolleneni Panache Presents the Telangana Golconda Masters 2023 co-presented by Telangana Tourism’. Good grief.


Ah, the British summer, eh? The prize-giving ceremony at July’s Senior Open resembled a rollcall on the deck of a frigate during a raging tempest.

The weather at Royal Porthcawl was truly horrendous as Alex Cejka valiantly staved off a gallant Padraig Harrington in a play-off after both players had finished on five-over aggregates.

It all made for wonderfully ghoulish viewing. Colin Montgomerie endured a torrid final day and a blizzard of bogeys and double-bogeys in a shattering 88 should really have been played out behind a police cordon.

“Before he went off, Monty said to me, ‘I think 15-over will be a good score today’,” said his fellow Scot, Greig Hutcheon, with a reflective chuckle. “There was quite a lot of dark humour in the locker room on that final day. My playing partner five-putted the first for an eight. I was going to ask the R&A if they accept invoices for counselling after what we all went through.”

Poor old Monty is probably still strapped to a gurney.


“It’s chicken s***,” said Jason Kokrak. And no, he wasn’t referring to one of the courses on the menu at the Champions’ dinner in the Augusta clubhouse. He was in fact referring to Sandy Lyle’s farewell at the Masters.

After 43 outings, Sandy’s swansong should’ve generated the kind of teary outpourings of veneration that would fill Rae’s Creek. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Facing a 12-foot putt to finish off his last competitive round on a weather-disrupted Friday, the hooter wailed to signal a suspension of play.

Some patrons chanted ‘let him putt’ in a break with strict Augusta protocol that was probably punishable by a week in the stocks on Washington Road. Lyle’s playing partner Kokrak made an impassioned plea too.

Officials stuck to their guns, though. Booo. Lyle had to come back first thing in the morning for a two-putt. Chicken s***, indeed.


To some folk, the idea of staying in a tent conjures up images of intolerable squalor. This scribe is made of sterner stuff, though.

So, with a shameless sense of smugness, this award goes to me as I enjoyed the bijou delights of a tent parked on the 22-metre line of the Hoylake rugby club pitch for the duration of the 151st Open.

Interestingly, Daniel Craig, the James Bond hunk, used to play rugger for Hoylake as a young man growing up on the Wirral. The 007 theme was all rather fitting for tent life. The communal showers, for instance, scared The Living Daylights out of your correspondent.

And after that frankly dismal, cornball gag, I’m not sure these awards will survive a 15th season.

Happy new year, folks.