Things seem to be quite heated in the world of golf these days; so heated in fact, you could probably brown a piece of bread on a toasting fork merely by pointing it in the direction of the R&A clubhouse.

The source of all this heat has been the amendments, adjustments, tweaks and tickles that the game’s governing bodies have made to the rules of golf,

By plenty of cheesed-off accounts, they have gone down with the same kind of whining, shuddering grimace you’d get when you give a toddler a spoonful of cod liver oil.

Professional golfers can often act like big bairns, of course, and the amount of grousing, groaning and grumbling about said rule book means the global game is now accompanied by a constant, downbeat droning sound akin to a herd of cows mooing The Lord’s Prayer …


I don’t know about you, but I’m growing increasingly jaded of the general wailing and whimpering that’s emanating from golf at the moment.

Every week, there seems to be somebody bleating like a ewe that’s lost its lamb. It’s as wearisome as folk in Scottish football bemoaning every decision a referee makes while girning themselves into a gasping lather of despair.

The freshening up of the rule book has been described, among various things, as a “laughing stock” and “terrible”. So just like the Tuesday column then?

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To the casual observer whom the sport may hope to attract, the high-profile howling about this, that and the other will merely reinforce a feeling of shrugging indifference to a game that many still view as petty and unfathomable at times.

The unfortunate thing about these on-going harrumphings is that they have overshadowed some of the truly excellent golf that has already been played at the top level in 2019.

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Change takes a bit of getting used to in all walks of life. And in golf, perhaps we should simply adopt the approach of Adam Schenck, the PGA Tour player, who was penalised last week for falling foul of the new edict on caddies lining up players.

“The rule changes are what they are,” he said with calm acceptance. “They’re fine. Everybody has got to play by them, and I just unfortunately didn’t.” Now, there’s a novel idea. Respect the game and move on? It might catch on ...


There are many sports which tend to be about as spontaneous as the D-Day Landings. Tennis or Formula One, for instance, can often be so predictable, you may as well have a bet on the liklihood of night following day.

The only thing predictable in this Royal & Ancient game, meanwhile, is its unpredictability and the success of Keith Mitchell in the Honda Classic at the weekend illustrated again one of golf’s most alluring qualities; the fact that anybody can win on any given week.

Mitchell, whose appearance in the upper echelons took some TV commentators by so much surprise they referred to him as ‘Kevin’, was ranked at No 162 in the world prior to the event but staved off the menace of triple major champion Brooks Koepka and the world No 7, Rickie Fowler, to win his first PGA Tour title.

The fact that 56-year-old Vijay Singh, aiming to become the oldest winner on the circuit since Sam Snead in 1965, was also in the hunt and ended up finishing sixth underlined another of golf’s fine attributes; that it remains a game for all the ages.

Mitchell’s title tilt led to one US report on proceedings being led by the headline ‘No name leads Honda’. “I just used that as a little motivation,” said Mitchell with a smile. A few folk know Kevin, sorry, Keith Mitchell now …


Professional golf is a cut-throat, ruthless, unforgiving business which toys with the emotions, challenges your physical and mental capacity and batters away at the finances.

Every week, you are gambling on yourself in pursuit of a dream which can often become something of a nightmare.

“Over the past year I have fallen out of love with the game and some of my poor golf has made me feel beyond horrible,” said the popular Motherwell golfer Ross Kellett, who announced at the weekend that he has called time on his touring career.

“It affected how I felt away from the course and at times I’ve not been in a good place.”


Kellett won on the third-tier of the paid game not long after making the transition from the amateur scene but the 31-year-old never got out of the second-division of the Challenge Tour during his seven year stint at the coalface.

Deciding to turn pro, with all the demands and sacrifices that comes with it, takes courage and faith in yourself. Knowing when to step away requires that too.