On BBC1 on Saturday evenings, the comedian Michael McIntyre has a quiz show called The Wheel. I happened to see the latter part of it last Saturday while waiting to catch the latest gloomy Covid-19 update on the news. There was a guy called Godwin playing for £92,000 (yes, that much money!) and as it happened the question was about golf.
It came up on screen in the fashion made famous by Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It read: ‘Which of the four golf championships that make up the Majors is held at the same golf course every year?’ The options read ‘The US Open’, ‘The British Open’ (I know, on a UK television show; the R&A will need to be having words), ‘The Masters’ and ‘The PGA’. (Note, not the USPGA.) For any golfer, obviously it’s a breeze, and happily Godwin knew enough about golf to have heard of Augusta National and he duly went home with all that lolly.
His performance was in quite stark contrast to that of the team from Reading University who took on Dundee in episode 21 of University Challenge last month. Jeremy Paxman told the teams they would be shown a “map of golf clubs that play host to the annual Open Championship”. First up was a location in Kent which Reading named as ‘Sandwich’, an answer Paxman (quite reasonably) accepted even though he would have preferred to hear Royal St George’s.
With the starter question out of the way, things went downhill faster than a putt at Augusta National. Next up was Hoylake (or Royal Liverpool) but Reading thought it was St Annes. The second was obviously in Northern Ireland but after somehow managing to mention The Belfry it became apparent that they had never heard of Portrush and so they passed on that. The final course was on the east coast of Scotland. They went for St Andrews. They should have gone for Carnoustie. (I guess Dundee would have definitely got that one! )
There were a couple of notes of controversy, though. Paxman said there were 10 links courses on the “Open rota”. First, the R&A always insists there is no rota as such, and I guess they are right. Portrush held the Open in1951 and then not again until 2019, so I would suggest it would not have been regarded as being on the “Open rota” if Paxman had been asking that question in, say, 1991. Royal Cinque Ports at Deal has hosted it twice, but not since 1920. Does that count as still being on it?
Second, those 10 courses? It would appear that the setters of the questions for University Challenge consider Turnberry, which hosted the most recent of its four in 2009, to still be on the rota. Which would be nice news for Donald Trump but otherwise would seem unlikely to be the case.
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