AS THE countdown clock to the Ryder Cup gets louder by the day, it has become noticeable that Scotland seems to be inundated with weather experts when it comes to the “big one” at Gleneagles in September.
First Minister Alex Salmond, EventScotland’s Robbie Clyde and now VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay have all seemed to think they have become John Kettley in recent months.
They have either “promised” sunshine over the PGA Centenary Course for the three-day match or tweeted a picture of a glorious day at Gleneagles and predicted it will be like that later in the year.
Chaps, your optimism is commendable and, of course, we would all love the weather to be nice for the first Ryder Cup to be held in Scotland for more than 40 years. But why do you keep teeing yourself up for a fall?
In different ways, I’m sure all three can – and will – play their parts in delivering a spectacle that will do Scotland proud, but there is one thing they have no control over – the weather.
Remember Nick Faldo signing off his Ryder Cup captaincy in Valhalla in 2008 by saying: “See you at Celtic Manor in two years and remember to bring your waterproofs”? It was perceived at the time as an ill-judged one-liner but, in actual fact, he was just being truthful.
Put simply, we will just have to put up with what Mother Nature delivers that week and, if it is wet, then so what? Both the K Club in 2006 and Celtic Manor four years later ended up like mud baths but did anyone really care?
More important to them in Ireland was the memory of seeing an emotional Darren Clarke play his part in a European victory. In Wales, it was Graeme McDowell holing his birdie putt across the 16th green, then clinching another home win a hole later, that will be remembered.
If Gleneagles is bathed in sun, it will probably be the best setting ever for a Ryder Cup, which is why the aforementioned politician and those individuals connected to either the national tourism organisation or a national agency are so keen for that to be the case.
Here’s something to ponder, though. In the first of five “Countdown to the Ryder Cup” programmes broadcast last week on Sky Sports, Paul McGinley was filmed visiting Gleneagles on a day when it looked as though it was hosing it down.
Fair play to the producers for not trying to sugar coat things by waiting to film that on a sunny day. It was a true reflection of what we might see in September, so let’s accept that and stop playing at being weathermen.
It is now less than four months until McGinley locks horns with Tom Watson and, if anyone is still struggling to get into the Ryder Cup spirit, then I recommend trying to either catch that preview programme again or make sure you don’t miss the four to come.
Narrated by the excellent Tony Adamson, it certainly whetted this correspondent’s appetite, though, as one of those lucky to witness the “Miracle at Medinah”, I’ll admit that was never going to be difficult.
In addition to hearing from the articulate McGinley, it also turned the spotlight on Justin Rose, reminding us that he played just as important a role in Europe’s dramatic last-day turnaround in Chicago than either Ian Poulter or Martin Kaymer.
Golf is lucky to have some fine ambassadors at the moment, but for me Rose is the man who sets the example for the next generation of European Tour superstars. He has reached the top the tough way, yet there is no chip on his shoulder. Not even the hint of one.
Poulter may be the man most people want to see in that European team – and you could understand why when you see that Ryder Cup passion oozing out of every pore. For me, though, it’s Rose who can be the lynchpin in Perthshire, the player the rest of the home team look up to most.
What I also liked about the countdown programme, which I’m reliably informed by the aforementioned “Addo” was produced by a chap called Rupert Everitt, was that it focused on Auchterarder, getting the views of some of the locals as the normally sleepy town prepares to welcome the event.
It also included a feature on the contenders for Europe’s team being measured for clothing at Wentworth a fortnight ago. He might not have been filmed when the tape measures were out for him but Stephen Gallacher took part in that and, with every passing week, he is certainly boosting his chances of getting to wear that gear – waterproofs included!