• Alistair Tait

Another nail in golf journalism’s coffin


So much for golf being an essential part of the fabric of Scottish life.

The Herald newspaper obviously doesn’t believe that. Otherwise its excellent golf writer Nick Rodger wouldn’t have been made redundant.

The Herald has been in existence since 1783 and has always given extensive coverage to the royal & ancient game. That’s to be expected for a national newspaper based in Scotland, the Home of Golf.

Yet Rodger will write for the newspaper no more. It’s an almost unbelievable move for a Scottish national newspaper. Especially when rival papers such as The Scotsman and The Courier do excellent jobs covering the game thanks to respective golf writers Martin Dempster and Steve Scott. Mind you, from looking at The Herald's golf coverage, or lack of, over the last few months, it's obvious the current editor isn't a fan of our stick and ball game. As fellow golf writer Euan McLean tweeted:

"The Herald just blew a massive hole in its own stupid two left feet. What used to be a great paper for golf just lost itself a unique, knowledgeable and hysterically funny voice. Their loss but, sadly, also golf’s."

Spot on.


Rodger was part of a rich vein of excellent golf writers who worked for The Herald. That list includes Raymond Jacobs, John Huggan and the late Douglas Lowe.

Nick became the Herald’s golf writer when Lowe sadly passed away in 2011 at the age of 59. Nick brought his own inimitable style to the job. His whimsical approach coupled with an in-depth knowledge of the game made The Herald a must read for many Scottish golf fans.

One of the funniest men to ever pick up a pen, Nick’s sense of humour brightened up many a press tent, or even a glorified broom cupboard which often served as a press room. We’ve spent many a Lytham Trophy or an Amateur Championship together. Those tournaments were easier to get through because of Nick’s presence. His impersonations of fellow scribes had us in stitches. Not just fellow scribes, but important officials, too.

Nick once had the accent of an R&A Championship Committee chairman so down pat that we dared him to call then R&A secretary Peter Dawson and tell him he believed the Open Championship venue should be changed – a month before the championship! We were covering the Amateur Championship at the time. We couldn't coax Nick into playing the game. When Dawson came into the press tent, we told him the gag we’d considered. Dawson said he would never have fallen for it. So we got Nick to do the chairman’s accent. A huge smile spread across Dawson’s face, and he admitted he might have been fooled.

Priceless.

The Herald has given great coverage to Scottish golf and Scottish golfers over the years. The likes of Colin Montgomerie, Catriona Matthew, Paul Lawrie, Stephen Gallacher, Andrew Coltart and other notable Scottish players might not have quite the profiles they have if not for the coverage of the Scottish press.

Obviously, newspapers have to justify spending like every other business, especially in these trying times. However, for a Scottish national newspaper to dispense with its golf writer is a crying shame. The Herald has got this decision seriously wrong.

More worryingly, it’s yet another nail in the coffin of golf journalism. The golf writing fraternity seems to be ever shrinking.

#JustSaying: “The determining bulk of Scottish people had heard of golf ever since they had heard of god and often considered the two of equal importance.” G. K. Chesterton

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