DESPITE the cheery insistence by Johnny Mathis that “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”, the general outlook during this frenetic time of the season can be utterly appalling.

Everywhere you turn, the festive frenzy is rammed home with all the hard-nosed, profit-seeking gusto of a Dickensian chimney sweep pushing his downtrodden, sooty-faced apprentice into a narrow flue.

If you’re not being ordered by television adverts to buy a inedible array of oven-ready party foods that merely reinforce the feeling of chronic abdominal bloat, then you’re being frogmarched into hastily cobbled together German Markets and Christmas on Ice extravaganzas that tend to have all the class and glamour of a hurried toilet break in a dingy motorway service station.

’Tis the season to be jolly? Good grief. In Edinburgh at the weekend, the first Future of Golf in Scotland Conference – or should that be Panic-stricken Crisis Convention? – stoked up a mixture of emotions.

On one hand, there was an encouraging sense of people coming together to work for a greater good while displaying an undoubted passion and positivity for the game. On the other, there was that familiar feeling that we’re just treading over the same old ground and simply trying to lock a variety of stable doors as the thundering hooves of bolted horses echo in the distance.

It was, by and large, an illuminating, engaging few hours and a worthwhile open forum which the top brass of the governing body at Scottish Golf admitted perhaps should have taken place long before now.

Of course, some of the bleak statistics were not what you’d call earth-shattering revelations. While plenty have preferred to bury their heads in the sand, many folk are well aware, for instance, of golf’s grisly ageing demographic and its largely lamentable gender imbalance. These are hardly new trends.

Just about a decade ago, my late and much missed Herald colleague, Dougie Lowe, produced his own series in these pages titled Scottish golf’s Timebomb in which he looked at the very issues which we are still peering at today.

An increasingly elderly membership, a lack of women and girls, a need to engage with the young and attract families, a requirement for more flexible memberships particularly in that “squeezed middle” age range, the rise of the nomadic golfer?

Some 10 years on, the same topics are still being debated as if they have just suddenly louped out from behind a curtain like the bogeyman. To those topics, we can add the need to join the vast online community and adopt social media in this age of speed and convenience. It’s all about tapping into the Millennials or Generation Y but then some involved in golf are more Generation BC, whose idea of cutting edge technology is the stovepipe hat.

Back when the aforementioned Dougie was gathering figures, the main movers and shakers in the domestic game were using words and phrases like “urgency” and “we need to act quickly”.

Those same words and phrases were still being delivered on Saturday.

But golf in this country has never moved quickly. A sense of complacency, apathy and an element of taking the eye off the ball, both from those running the game and from some of the member clubs themselves, hasn’t helped while deeply entrenched, sneering, pompous attitudes and a bitter resistance to change continues to come home to roost.

You reap what you sow, unfortunately, but maybe the penny is dropping even if it’s too late for some.

There is no doubt that closures of golf clubs will continue and a natural, if brutal, cull will unravel. It’s not golf’s fault that society has become so clamourous. Those attributes of patience, self-discipline, dedication and respect which are at this great game’s bedrock are qualities which are not necessarily defining traits of a modern world which demands instant gratification.

One conference won’t conquer the myriad challenges golf faces now and in the future. But it’s better than doing nothing.