In this finger-wagging age, when we are ordered to wash our hands at least 612 times a day while Hygiene Enforcement Stormtroopers patrol the streets to make sure we are all manically scrubbing away at our palms like a deranged Lady Macbeth, the humble tap seems to have lost its way.

I was reminded of this the other week when utilising the facilities at a golf club and was confronted by one of those fancy, footery all-in-one, sensor-driven, triple-action absurdities that promises to dispense soap, squirt water and then blast out warm air in a hi-tech sequence of convenience but invariably leaves you standing at a bloomin’ sink with your hands cupped like Oliver Twist pleading for a bowl of Dickensian gruel as you wait on something, indeed anything, to happen.

It got me pining for the simple days when turning on a tap, with a birl here and a twist there, was a process of undemanding, limp-wristed nonchalance, on a par with Larry Grayson flicking out a paw while cackling”shut that door”.

Golf is complicated enough. Now you just about need a strokesaver to help you wash your ruddy hands …


If you’d mentioned the name “Nate Lashley” to this scribe not that long ago, I probably would’ve looked at you with the bamboozled gaze of a man who’d just been asked to explain Fermat’s Last Theorem while waiting on one of those flippin’ hand-washing thingymejigs to burst into action.

Lashley’s maiden win on the PGA Tour in Detroit on Sunday was another example of golf’s alluring ability to throw up a tale of the unexpected. And what a tale it was.

Some 15 years ago, Lashley’s parents and his then girlfriend all perished in a light aircraft crash. From such harrowing, unimaginable trauma, Lashley (main picture), who was world No.346 prior to his weekend win and got into the field off the reserve list, has battled to forge a professional career and has now enjoyed the ultimate glory of a breakthrough tour triumph. His win on Sunday also secured him a debut appearance in the Open.


On this side of the pond, meanwhile, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (inset), claimed his first European Tour win in the Andalucia Masters to join Lashley on the starting sheet for Portrush.

Bezuidenhout’s back story is also one of personal trials and tribulations. He nearly died from mistakenly drinking rat poison that was in a bottle of Coke as a two-year-old while the complications it caused to his nervous system left him with a stutter that led to him taking prescribed beta blockers to calm the anxiety it brought on.

All of this came to a head at Portrush during the Amateur Championship in 2014 when he was given a two-year ban – later reduced to nine months – for failing a drugs test due to the medication he was on.

That he will return to Portrush, the scene of a desperate low, to savour a golfing high makes you wonder how those golfing gods work.

Professional golf, with its unforgiving, cut-throat competition and unrelenting demands, can often be a case of survival of the fittest and requires the mental resolve of a Navy Seal.

With all that they have endured, Lashley and Bezuidenhout have shown a remarkable strength of character to conquer adversity.


Let’s face it, the Ryder Cup is a big, mooing cash cow. And what do you do with a cash cow? That’s right, you squeeze the metaphorical udders for every drop.

The other week, the European Tour unveiled a powerful new committee, featuring the likes of Paul McGinley and former Premier League chief Richard Scudamore, which has been tasked with “enhancing the commercial and brand value” of the biennial bunfight. Just you wait. Samuel Ryder’s little gold chalice will probably end up in a rotary milking parlour.


All of this got me thinking of the words of Sandy Jones, the former chief executive of the PGA and the traditional custodians of the Ryder Cup.

“We’ve got to remember the Ryder Cup’s core values of integrity and respect; it’s not about squeezing every penny out of it,” said Jones in the build-up to the 2014 contest at Gleneagles. “There is a danger of overwhelming commercialism.”

Of course, it’s fair to say the horse bolted on that particular front a few years ago.

Go onto the Ryder Cup website, for instance, and you can still bag a piece of the 2018 showpiece.

Nothing says sporting integrity and respect quite like a printed microfibre waffle towel reduced from 30 quid to £18. The Ryder Cup cash cow keeps on mooing.


So there we have it. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers at Muirfield has its first 12 women members and the world is still attached to its axis.

When the initial vote on whether to allow female members returned a “no” result in 2016, the global condemnation was pretty vigorous.

The reputational damage to golf, and Scottish golf in particular, was considerable.

As stated before in this column, women becoming a member, a captain, a secretary, a club professional or whatever at any golf club shouldn’t really be news. It should just be a normal occurrence.

The Honourable Company is not your normal golf club, of course, but golf should be a game for all.

Any development that spreads that inclusive message – no matter how belatedly – is, well, good news.