I’ve never been one for embracing great advancements in golfing technology. It’s taken me nearly 20 years, for instance, to ditch my cumbersome, tatty old bag and start striding out with a lighter, slimline new model, all of which sounds like the opening gambit to a Les Dawson monologue about the mid-life crisis.

As for my increasingly antiquated irons? Well, they’re actually so old, they’ve got the Latin phrase ‘per aspera ad astra’ chiselled into the hosels. “Ah yes, through hardships to the stars?,” said the sports editor with an erudite coo of scholarly recognition. “More like through the green to the s***e,” I muttered with a weary grumble of ineptitude.

By the time I get round to updating my myriad weapons of grim, futile golfing warfare, perhaps the various stakeholders involved with the global game will have reached some form of agreement on the R&A and USGA’s Distance Insights Report.

Last week’s announcement from the game’s two governing bodies about potentially putting in measures to halt the “continuing cycle of ever—increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths” provided plenty of opportunity for chin-stroking, hand-wringing and the kind of prolonged rumination you’d get in a field of mooing cattle.

At the very highest level of golf, with storied courses stretched, pulled and manipulated like the loose skin of some fading Hollywood heart-throb desperately trying to arrest the passage of time, it became apparent that the horse had long since bolted on the issue of distance.

Glasgow Times:

Announcing action now is broadly equivalent to trying to usher back the cuddies after one of those chaotic starts at the Grand National. But, rather like the ban on the anchored method of putting a few years ago, the top brass have rekindled the phrase “it’s never too late to do the right thing.”

Of course, in this minefield of polarised opinions, what the “right thing” actually is will differ greatly.

The R&A and USGA have to be seen to be preserving the sustainability of the game while not provoking war with the equipment manufacturers and the tours that are multi-million pound enterprises. The booming of 300-plus yard drives, after all, is viewed as terrific entertainment.

The reaction by the game’s custodians may have been belated but it is welcome and their eagerness to listen and engage with all the wide and varied movers and shakers over the coming months at least promotes an encouraging message of measured diplomacy in this perilous quest to forge a united front.

Glasgow Times:

In this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it age of instant gratification and quick, easily digestible pursuits, golf – whether it’s driving distances or the length of time it takes to play – has continued to get longer during a period when the championing of shorter formats of the game has never been greater in an effort to make it cheaper, more accessible and less time-consuming.

In the current climate, meanwhile, golf’s environmental credentials are being seriously questioned due to the need for more land, more water and more pesticides for bigger courses. That particular ‘green’ issue will become more and more prevalent as the months and years pass.

Golf tends to have a fondness for ponderous, deliberate processes and the further discussions, dialogues and debates about the Distance Insights Report will probably end up getting a penalty for slow play.

The clock is ticking but it may be a considerable time before consensus is even close.


Glasgow Times:

When you’ve not been No.1 in the world since 2015, you’re probably not bothered how you reclaim the lofty perch.

Ideally, Rory McIlroy would have liked to have surged back to the game’s summit with a blockbusting win over his global rivals.

Doing it via the complex vagaries of the rankings system, though, will have to do.

McIlroy and Brooks Koepka, the world No.1 for the last nine months, didn’t play last week but the two-year rolling rankings system meant McIlroy inched to the top again by a mere 0.03 points when the updated list was unveiled yesterday.

The body of work McIlroy has pieced together over the last few months has been mightily impressive.

While Koepka has been the undisputed king of the majors – he’s won four of the last 11 he’s played in and has been second twice and fourth once – the American’s wider consistency has been no match for McIlroy’s.

In his last 25 events, the Northern Irishman has won four times and has recorded 16 other top-10s.

Both McIlroy and Koepka contest this week’s Genesis Open in LA. This time, the fight for supremacy will be played out on the course not the calculators.


Glasgow Times:

In the year he turns 50, many were thinking spluttering Phil Mickelson was over the hill.

Dropping out of the top 50 for the first time in a quarter-of-a-century simply highlighted his slide but back-to-back third place finishes, in events as far apart as Saudi Arabia and California, have shown there’s plenty of life in the auld dog yet.

Phil, it seems, is licensed to thrill again.