A fascinating year on the golfing scene

WHAT a fascinating year this has been on the golfing scene.

The men’s rankings have shifted to favour Europe, with Luke Donald as one, Lee Westwood two, Rory McIlroy three and Martin Kaymer four, while in the women’s game, focus is moving steadily east with Yani Tseng of Taipei number one, Suzann Petterson of Norway two and Na Yeon Choi of Korea three.

Four first-timers won the mens majors and Tiger Woods was nowhere to be seen, dropping out of the top 50 for the first time anyone can remember.

So what will 2012 bring? Several top players are still looking to break their duck as major winners, so will this be the year for Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, or even Sergio Garcia and Adam Scott, both showing signs of getting back to their best?

Out of them all I would favour Donald to win the USPGA and Garcia the Open and I don’t think Woods is ready just yet.

In the women’s game I feel the most likely outcome will be an oriental clean sweep.

At home, Neil Coates (1) remained the lowest handicap home player and he retained the Jim Cooke Scratch Cup.

Father and son Ian and Alex Wiggins continued to fight for top spot in their household, both playing off three, Ian winning the Stein Trophy and Alex the Club Championship.

Kieran Noble is the lowest junior, playing off five, but Mike Coates and Lewis Wright also had excellent seasons, finishing up off 12.

In the younger juniors, both Jack Scholey and George Husband made good progress, Jack winning a trophy again and George winning for the first time.

Mike Coates won the last Whisky Stableford before Christmas but was unable to take the prize due to his age, so Mark Kerr took the biggest bottle after they had tied on 42 points. Peter C Brown was third on 41, with Mark Wilson and Martin Shackleton on 40.

Simon Walker and John Carter had 39 with Dave Batchelor and Kieran Noble on 38.

The Stableford on Christmas Eve was won by Ivan Ross with an outstanding 44 points.

Richard Young was a distant second on 40, with Simon Walker on 39, Graham Bedford and Tam McConville on 38, Brian Grange on 37 and Colin Fenby and Colin Jefferson on 36.

A hardy few turned out on Boxing Day for the Fourball Betterball at 8am and Mike Atack and Simon Walker returned a creditable 66 to take first place. Mike Coates and Dean Bennett were second with 67, Howard Drake and Paul Ventress third on 68 and captain Tam McConville and Bob Scott fourth with 69.

Tomorrow (New Year’s Eve), there is a Stableford. There is no competition on New Year’s Day, but there is a Pro’s Open Stableford on Monday. There is a Midweek Stableford on Wednesday.

It only remains to wish all you readers a very happy New Year and to encourage the armchair golfers to make 2012 the year when you get out and do it as well as reading about it.