Some things in life matter more than others. Personality is one of these things. In this high summer of 2010 there is much celebration concerning the number of Englishmen currently occupying mink-lined berths in the world golf rankings.
It is claimed that many people are taking to the streets, throwing parties, dancing and jigging as they forget about public service cuts and mortgage problems to throw themselves into a frenzy of celebration at this benchmark achievement by a gaggle of ‘youngish’ golfers. Apparently this is not occurring much in Scotland though.
The simultaneous appearance of Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Ross Fisher in the world’s top 50 players is encouraging much hyperbole; some of it is actually justified. It is as though The New Beatles had just emerged in front of our gaze. Throw in Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell for Northern Ireland and the dramatic rise of Wales’ Rhys Davies and the trumpets really can start tooting (sorry Scotland, I tried but there is just no one there I’m afraid).
Believe me, these are indeed heady times for homeland golf. There are many interwoven reasons for this small miracle to have happened. Coaching is indescribably superior to what it was; top amateurs are taught how to be professionals; cartloads of dosh in the pro game encourage genuine athletes to turn to the game. And so on.
Also, like The Beatles, it is a generational quirk. This sort of thing happens. It happened in Dutch football in the seventies when Johan Cruyff led a merry band of outstanding marauders to everything but the actual World Cup trophy itself. It happened to British music in the sixties when Paul, John, George (although probably not Ringo) helped begat the Stones, The Who and the rest.
Whatever the reasons, however, the present, exceedingly healthy state of British (untartaned Britain, that is) golf should indeed be celebrated mightily. What also needs to be celebrated is that the present group offer more than mere golfing competence; they offer quite a lot in terms of personality. Certainly, compared to the vast majority of their drone-like American counterparts they do even if, sadly, all of them continue to wear accursed baseball caps.
Westwood is laconic, decent and often quite funny. Donald is arty but not farty and politely understated. Poulter is quirky and show-offy and very funny, sometimes intentionally. Casey is abrasive and darkly interesting and wears arrogance like a bad aftershave. Rose is unpredictable and sweet, but actually quite tough. Fisher is a local lad made good but remains down to earth. McIlroy is full of the joys of his own very special spring. McDowell is mercurial and straight-talking and better than even he thinks. Rhys Davies is too recent to have yet made a lasting impression, but the early signs are very encouraging.
What is relevant here is that none of them appear dull. Okay, one or two maybe but that’s not bad for a group this big. We all ought to band together and throw a proper party, a big one, stretching from Cornwall to Cumbria and taking in Wales and Ulster. Oh hell, let’s be magnanimous and invite the Scots to join us – after all, it wouldn’t be the same without them…
Bill Elliott: Read more of Bill’s monthly columns