You will know that the BMW PGA Championship finished yesterday. The tournament was, of course, completed under the enormous cloud of the death of the longest-serving monarch in British history happening on the day it had begun, but I am sure that Shane Lowry nevertheless enjoyed the thrill of the chase (he closed with a 65) and his victory at Wentworth. 

A little earlier this year I read an intriguing book called Serious Money by Caroline Knowles. Its subhead is Walking Plutocratic London, which is what she does, engaging in conversations with a range of people (anonymously) about the wealth and habits of some of the wealthiest people in the capital as she walks and talks in some of the most expensive places on earth in which to live. Her last walk was outside London – at Virginia Water in Surrey, which is where the Wentworth Club is located. 

As I said, I found the book to be interesting and clearly she had done an extraordinary amount of research. Except, it seemed, when it came to the golf. One sentence reads: “The smooth glittering green [as in the colour of grass] of this famous 18-hole golf course, where the Ryder Cup is sometimes played, surrounds the clubhouse like a tranquil sea.” In fact, as you may well know, the Ryder Cup has been held at Wentworth once, in October 1953. I don’t think that would fit anyone’s definition of ‘sometimes’. That match was, coincidentally, held four months after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. 

Also finishing yesterday was the men’s final of the US Open tennis championships at Flushing Meadow, New York. It was won by Carlos Alcaraz. The connection? I read an interview with Andrea Gaudenzi, chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), when the Covid crisis was pretty much at its peak last year and consequently tennis tournaments were falling by the wayside. Golf had its problems, too, but not to the same extent. “Our sport relies heavily on ticket revenue,” said Gaudenzi. “On the ATP Tour, it is 45-50%. Golf’s main revenue stream is data and media. It’s a completely different business model.” 

That in turn brought to mind a tweet of 2020 by Paul McNamee, a former Australian tennis player with a formidable doubles record. “I’ve worked at a senior level in both sports,” he wrote. “Golf, only played in daylight hours four days a week, massively out-monetises 24/7 tennis…500 golfers compared to 100 tennis players make a decent living.” 

So there we have it – there are benefits for being more proficient at an old man’s sport! Oh, hold on. The average age of golf’s four major champions – Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Matt Fitzpatrick and Cameron Smith – in 2022 has been 27.25. Following the young Spaniard’s triumph last night, even though he is only 19, the tennis equivalent figure is 32.1. Go figure!

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