It’s a well known scientific fact that the time between one football season ending and another one starting up again can be measured by the length of a despairing sigh.

Go on. Sink back into your seat and let out an audible, lamentable exhalation and that, essentially, is how long the shutdown has lasted.

Of course, those of you who occasionally pore over these weekly wafflings know all about resigned, doleful groanings.

The mere sight of the words “Nick Rodger” at the top of this page, for instance, tends to evoke the same shuddering sense of foreboding you’d get if you heard the Four Minute Warning.

Like the lingering smell of fish after you’ve made a mariner’s pie without the extractor fan on, fitba just won’t go away. And the fact I’m actually writing about flippin’ fitba in this opening meander merely adds to its tiresome omnipotence.

Have a flick through the papers, switch on the television, tune in the radio or open up your laptop and what do you see and hear? That’s right, page after page, punditry upon punditry, phone-in after phone-in and Tweet upon Tweet about a national obsession that is as unhinged as an old outhouse door after a spell of stiff breezes and as myopic as the cyclops doing the visual field test at the opticians.

Here we are, moving into a couple of the biggest weeks in the golfing calendar with the Scottish Open and the Open, and the all-consuming beast of football is already roaring and bawling its way back to saturation point as Scotland’s clubs embark on a series of European qualifying campaigns that will probably be as forlorn as the Brexit negotiations.



READ MORE: Scottish Open: Fragile Paul Lawrie set for three week golfing test

By all accounts, the Women’s Football World Cup was the best sporting event known to man, sorry, women. Or even women and men?

The 11.7 million who watched England’s good ladies in the semi-final on the old Beeb dwarfed anything going on at, for instance, the men’s Cricket World Cup, which was only available on Sky.

Flick through the remote and the ongoing, blanket coverage of Wimbledon across the BBC leaves you in such an unrelenting tennis bubble you actually feel like you are living inside a bottle of Robinson’s Fruit & Barley squash.

Golf, meanwhile, almost muddles on in the margins. The debate about televised golf is just about as old as the hoary whimsy of Peter Alliss but there is no doubt that the chronic absence of the game from terrestrial television remains a real problem. In a high resource area, Sky do a fine job but they are, essentially, preaching to the converted.

The BBC’s well-documented retreat from televised golf down the years has been painful to the point where you half expected them to give coverage to, say, shove ha’ penny, quoits or wood whittling; in fact anything but golf.

For those interested, highlights of this week’s Scottish Open are on at yon time on the BBC at the weekend. While other sports garner great exposure, golf’s continued fight for relevance in an ever-changing landscape goes on.



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There are many things that would send shivers down an R&A official’s spine. The prospect of a player, for instance, putting for a 59 on the Old Course at the end of a six-hour round with the flagstick in would just about cause the abandonment of absolutely everything on the planet.

The sight, meanwhile, of John Daly careering round the holes of an Open Championship on a buggy was one potential vision the high heid yins would have sent to the British Board of Film Classification for strict censorship.

Daly’s request to use a buggy at Portrush – osteoarthritis in his knee has left him hirpling and hobbling – was politely turned down by the R&A the other day. It was a tricky one. Daly got permission to use a cart at the US PGA Championship but many thought he was abusing the privilege and cocking a snook at authority, particularly when he turned up with a fag in one hand and a takeaway drink in the cup holder.

Daly has hardly treated his body like a revered temple down the years and, in many ways, has profited from his antics and lifestyle.

He can still walk, even though pain kicks in eventually. But many golfers in their 50s will groan and grimace about that and just get on with it.

It was never going to get to the point where majors looked more like wacky races with caddie carts zooming all over the parish in chaotic abandon but by taking a firm yet fair stance, the R&A have nipped the issue in the bud.



READ MORE: Disabled golfers set to shine at Scottish Open

The R&A has plenty of money kicking about, even if it doesn’t extend to providing complimentary tea and biscuits to the drouthy golf writers covering Open final qualifying.

The news yesterday that the game’s custodians will be significantly increasing the prize fund of the AIG Women’s British Open was warmly welcomed. The purse will go up by £1m to £3.6m, making it the second-richest women’s major behind the US Women’s Open which pays £4.4m.

The winner will receive just in excess of £600,000 from the £390,000 first prize last year. It’s still a fair bit shy of the £1.5m the winner of the men’s Open will receive but, on the road to equal pay, it’s a start.

Of course, simply throwing money in at the top of the game doesn’t guarantee sustainability. Getting girls and women into golf at the bottom of the pyramid remains key. The game can only flourish with solid foundations, after all.


THE stars are gathering at The Renaissance as the likes of Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler – as well as oor ain’ upwardly mobile tartan lads – tee up at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open. Inspiring figures won’t be hard to find but this weekend’s disabled Scottish Open should be even more inspiring.

A 36-holer runs in tandem with the main event as the golfers on show demonstrate that disability is no barrier to success. Golf has always been lambasted and pilloried for some if its self-imposed and archaic prejudices but, at its inclusive best, it remains a game for all. This weekend’s disabled event will showcase that wonderfully.