Letter From Dunbar

Golf World and Scotland on Sunday correspondent John Huggan shares this dispatch on the Richie Ramsay situation that precluded the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion from playing Bay Hill this week.

Dear Arnold (or can I call you ‘your majesty?’),

Greetings from sunny Scotland.

Over the course of your long career in professional golf, I’m sure you will agree that the land that gave the game to the world has been especially generous to you. Even on the many occasions when you couldn’t be bothered to come and play in the Open Championship – 13 times between your first and last appearance - we Scots did our bit to keep up the myth that the biggest event on the planet today owes its very existence to the fuss and bother caused by your first visit back in 1960. We even provided you with Tip Anderson, the best caddie you ever had. I hear you like our whisky too.

Anyway, less than a year ago one of our own ventured across the big water hazard to our left and your right and emulated your good self by winning the US Amateur Championship. That, as you can imagine, was a big deal back here in the land that gave golf to the world and amongst the people that perpetuate the aforementioned myth re yourself and the Open. We are very proud of Richie Ramsay and his achievement.

As a result of his victory our Richie has received many invitations to take part in events across the globe. One of them very kindly came from you and I know first hand that Richie was very much looking forward to competing in the “Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard” at Bay Hill.

Well, he was until he arrived in Florida to find that he was being denied entry to ‘your’ event because of a stupid and pointless PGA Tour rule that should apply only to professional golfers. Besides, would it have killed you or your office to have reminded Richie that officially “committing” – an apt word in this context – to the tournament was a necessary part of his schedule? Surely not.

When this nonsense came to light, I am perplexed by your apparent indifference to the plight of young Richie. Would it have killed you to take time away from those sycophants on the Golf Channel long enough to tell the PGA Tour pedants that at ‘your’ tournament amateurs who are no threat to anyone’s prize money and who are not taking up anyone’s precious spot in what is not even a full-field event will be allowed to tee it up even if they haven’t been told that they must officially confirm their presence? Surely not.

One last thing. You may not be aware that Richie’s month-long trip to America – during which he will take on Amateur champion Julian Guerrier for the Georgia Cup, compete in the Masters and then the Heritage tournament at Hilton Head – is being paid for by the Scottish Golf Union. The SGU, as you may not be aware, is largely funded by a levy taken from every golf club member in Scotland. In other words, me.

Arnie, can I have my money back please?

Yours in sport,
John Huggan

PS. I hear Richie is switching from Mastercard to Visa. So there.