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  • Alistair Tait

Golf's Misnomer Of The Year?

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

Stand at the top of Ben Hope on a sunny day and the 360 degree view is a glorious vista of seeming nothingness. Bogs, lochans, rivers, and burns dot the vast green treeless landscape.

“Nothingness” couldn’t be further from the truth. Ben Hope, Scotland’s most northerly Munro, resides in Flow Country (pictured) which, according to the eponymous website is..

“…the most intact and extensive blanket bog system in the world. Stretching across Caithness and Sutherland in the far north of Scotland this vast expanse of blanket bog comprises a complex set of interlinked pool systems and micro features that not only host an eye-catching flora and fauna but also play a vital role in our defence against the effects of climate change.”

The ecosystem that is Flow Country has existed for hundreds of thousands of years, perhaps millions. There are more famous ecosystems around the world – the Amazon Rain Forest, the Sahara Desert, the Arctic and Antarctica, the Himalayas and on it goes. Mess with the world’s ecosystems and, as we’re already seeing, humankind is asking for trouble.

Why am I talking about ecosystems in a golf blog? Miriam-Webster has just announced its word of 2022, and has opted for “gaslighting.” It got me wondering what golf’s word of the year might be. How about “ecosystem?”

Now there’s a term I never thought I’d write when I began my golf writing career.

The term “ecosystem” has received a lot of air time in 2022. It’s come into golf’s lexicon as a result of LIV Golf. Those defenders of the status quo before the so-called “rebel” circuit came into being have been quick to bandy this term around at any opportunity.

We’re told the “strategic alliance” between the PGA Tour and European Tour was created to preserve golf’s existing ecosystem, as if the world of professional golf had existed in perfect harmony since time immemorial. Professional golf and harmony? If only!

Yet the PGA Tour as we know it today only came into existence in 1968 when the Tournament Players Division separated from the PGA of America and Joe Dey became its first commissioner. The European Tour in its current shape arrived four years later, when John Jacobs did likewise with the Professional Golfers’ Association.

Perhaps status quo defenders use “ecosystem” to signify professional golf, with the PGA Tour holding most of the power, is inviolate, that somehow, like tampering with Flow Country, this glorious game will be ruined if anyone dares threaten it.

As I’ve noted many times, most of the world’s golfers probably couldn’t give hoot about the professional tours. The other 99.9 percent care more about the joy this grand old game gives them than whether tournament professionals are becoming even richer.

Professional golf, professional sport, is a business, not a natural phenomenon. As such, it is fair play for any other organisation that tries to home in on its territory, no matter who backs said organisation. Anyone who has sat through those SWOT analyses most companies run knows the “T” says nothing in business is certain, especially when money is involved.

Many would love nothing more than to see LIV Golf disappear from the golfing landscape. Here’s the rub though, the PGA and European Tours have no right to exist anymore than LIV does, not matter what the ecosystem warriors tell us.

“Ecosystem” – golf’s word of 2022? Maybe misnomer of the year is more apropos.

#JustSaying: “Golf’s lexicon of colourful words and phrases is its crowing achievement. For long after the urge of the ability to play the game leaves us, golf’s joyful adjectives and modifiers, its splendid superlatives and unequalled accolades ring in my ear the waves of a familiar sound.” Robert Browning

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