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Open letter

Dear Rory McIlroy

I’m writing this in Gullane, having just returned from a walk around the golf course and through the village. It’s quite a sight, with scaffolders still at work, and marquees being equipped in readiness for the Scottish Open Championship. The event begins on Thursday morning, but there are players on the course already, getting to know its quirks, working out their yardages, and preparing a game plan for each hole. You should have been one of them.

These golf events don’t just happen by magic.  The four days of the tournament are preceded by weeks and months of preparation by European Tour staff. It is funded in part by sponsor cash, much of it in this case coming from Aberdeen Asset Management, (Why is an investment house which handles billions in client money funding something as spurious and transitory as a golf tournament? Don’t ask me, but I’ll be reviewing my portfolio, that I can tell you.) and the inevitable Emirates airline, which is everywhere.

But even the professional input would be pointless without the work of hundreds of volunteers, the men and women who will be buggy drivers for players from practice ground to first tee, who’ll follow them as official scorers, or who’ll marshal the crowds to ensure that the tournament takes place in a safe and proper atmosphere. (By the way, I’m marshalling on a couple of the playing days and I promise you that anyone who shouts ‘Get in the hole!’ is liable to have trouble extracting my ‘Quiet’ board from up his arse.)

I know people who have been busy for weeks preparing for the next few days, and I know the work they’ve put in, all of it voluntary and unpaid. They were happy to do this, just as the Gullane Golf Club membership is happy to give up three weeks of visitor income, and offer the courtesy of its newly refitted clubhouse, because it feels privileged to be hosting some of the best players in the world, for a week of unpredictable Gullane weather.

Top of the list, or course, is you, Rory. You are the Number One golfer on the planet, the game’s standard bearer, its shining example. You, and the defending champion, Justin Rose, are the poster boys for Gullane 2015.

So, how did you acknowledge this status, and express your thanks for all the selfless work that has gone into giving you another payday? You put yourself at risk with days to go by having a pointless football kick-about with your mates, a session strenuous enough to see you tear an ankle ligament and put yourself out of action. Stupid, selfish, and cretinous, are three words that come immediately to my mind; you can add irresponsible too. I hope they’ve come to yours also, as you contemplate the disappointment you’ve caused, and the number of people you’ve let down.

Am I being harsh? I don’t believe so. I doubt that Nike, Jumeirah Estates, or any of your other multi-million pound sponsors would think that either.

Yours sincerely


Categories: Sport
  1. Mike Oxlong
    July 6, 2015 at 10:49 pm

    Get a life mate. He was having a kickabout and got injured. Deal with it. Plenty other good golfers around.

    • July 7, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Get some values . . . mate.

      Rory isn’t any ordinary golfer. He’s made multi-millions out of his sport, and from whom? Every £, $, €, and ¥ that’s gone into his pocket has come ultimately from the end users of the products he sponsors, golf equipment, clothing, banking, hotels, and many more. People fork out because they admire him as a golfer, or they like him as a bloke, mostly both I’m sure. They pay through the nose to walk round hilly courses in the pissing rain to be part of a gallery, most of whom can’t get a clear view for the two seconds it takes to make each shot. Thousands of those people have paid in advance to follow him around Gullane, and even more for the Open at St Andrews, which he will miss if his injury is half as serious as we’ve been told. Against that background, I believe that he . . . along with every other professional sportsman . . . has a duty of care towards the people who enrich him.

      By the way, Mike, I’m pretty happy with the life I have.

  2. Scott Wilson
    July 7, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Grumpy old goat! 😉

  3. July 7, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I quite agree. I saw the hard work of the stewards (mostly voluntary) marshalling the queue for Wimbledon yesterday. They stand for umpteen hours – last week in scorching temperatures and many are post retirement age. All are courteous and enthusiastic about the tennis. Only to be contrasted with the bizarre sight of Nick Kyrgios refusing to return the shots of Gasquet because the game wasn’t going his way. It’s an insult to the incredible amount of graft that goes into these championships. There were plenty of Aussie families queuing to catch a glimpse of his play. He should not be invited back.

    • July 7, 2015 at 9:44 am

      I don’t know Mr Kyrgios, but what I’ve read of the guy he seems to have an attitude problem. I’ve just caught up with some of it on the BBC website; not trying is inexcusable, I agree with you 100%, and the crowd made that pretty clear to him. However he did win the next set and only went down 8 – 6 in a tiebreak in the fourth. That suggests he got the message. The lad is only 20; he’s no crazier than Nastase was at any point in his career, nor is his behaviour worse than extreme McEnroe, and JP rarely had any humour about him. He seems to have at least one friend in Andy Murray; now he should make some more. I suggest that with a slight attitude adjustment, in a year or so, he’ll be a hero . . . if he proves to be good enough. Being a character is one thing, being a winner is another.

  4. July 7, 2015 at 11:05 am

    McEnroe said something very similar on the highlights show. I will probably forgive Kyrgios with some distance on the event. When you’ve queued for four hours it’s hard to have a perspective on it! But you’re right, he’s just a boy.

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