One understands that at some point next week we will know if Donald Trump is going to run again to be President of the United States. We already know that while he has said the R&A would like to take the Open back to his course at Turnberry, which last staged it in 2009, that is in fact not the case (Martin Slumbers, CEO of the R&A, recently made that abundantly plain in an interview in Golf Digest). But I do occasionally wonder if Boris Johnson didn’t miss a trick after winning the General Election in December 2019 and before Trump lost his office just over a year later. If the then prime minister had managed to charm/coerce the R&A into awarding, say, the 2025 Open to Turnberry and the (in an attempt to keep The Donald honest) 2035 Open to Trump’s course near Aberdeen, that might have seen the Brexit holy grail of a US trade deal duly sorted. Just a thought…
During her own ill-fated premiership, Liz Truss made a point of emphasizing that on her watch government policy would see the end of agricultural land being used to house solar farms as part of a strategy towards more sustainable energy. As she put it, she didn’t want farmers “filling fields with paraphernalia like solar farms”. As you will know, her watch in fact didn’t last much longer than a J.B. Holmes round, but the matter did give rise to an interesting factoid. According to Greenpeace, solar farms occupy 230 square kilometres of land in the UK. That’s about 0.1% of the total. Golf courses occupy 1256 square kilometres, a little over fives times as much space. Goodness, if Truss had clung on until Christmas, that might have been the end of the Open altogether.
Still related to the climate, there is a famous/notorious photograph taken in the US in 2017. It shows golfers in Washington state playing on while a wildfire rages with intense ferocity in the background. (You can look it up on Google.) David Simon, the writer who created the TV series The Wire, tweeted: “In the pantheon of visual metaphors for America today, this is the money shot.” Well, I guess perhaps until Trump does whatever he does next.
Finally, on the subject of both money and crazy golf, a story in The Times last week reported on the thriving business prospects of a company called Swingers: crazy golf in an urban environment. There are two venues in the UK and an increasing number in the US. The aim of the co-founders and co-chief executives, Matt Grech-Smith and Jeremy Simmonds, is that by 2025 the operation will be worth more than £500 million. It is perhaps the most financially eye-watering example of the lucrative potential of ‘competitive socialising’. Says Simmonds: ”Ultimately, we are giving someone a golf club and a ball. That changes the whole business model.”
And I’m sure they never complain if anyone making a hole-in-one, via a miniature windmill or otherwise, has to buy everyone in their group a drink.
You can follow me on Twitter @robrtgreen and also read my other blog at f-factors.com