Incomprehensible. Completely and utterly incomprehensible.
That’s the only word I can think of to describe the Scottish Golf selectors’ decision to leave Ailsa Summers out of the side for the upcoming Ladies' Home Internationals, as highlighted earlier this week by long-standing golf writer Colin Farquharson.
Less than two months ago, Summers, 22, won the Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship at West Kilbride and currently sits second on the ladies’ Order of Merit.
The first name on the seven-player Scottish team-sheet? Apparently not.
Read more -> Scottish Golf explains Summers snub
According to Scottish Golf performance director Steve Paulding, pictured below, Summers wasn’t picked for the side because he and his fellow selectors – former LET player Clare Queen and women’s national coach Rick Valentine – “felt other players were stronger, with performances in other ranking events to back that up.”
Not to pick holes in Paulding’s argument but isn’t the Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship the flagship event for women’s amateur golf in Scotland? And doesn’t the fact that Summers being second on the Order of Merit – used, rightly or wrongly, as a barometer for identifying the best performers in the domestic game over a 12-month period – suggest she is more than a one-event wonder?
You know what? Let’s do it. Let’s pick holes in Paulding’s argument because, frankly, I think he’s talking absolute rubbish.
Paulding: “Winning the Scottish Women’s Amateur Championship does not guarantee selection for the Home Internationals.”
Um… maybe it should?
Paulding: “Work commitments restrict Ailsa in being able to practice and compete more regularly and consistently.”
Yet, despite that, she still managed to win the biggest tournament of the year for Scotland women golfers. Frankly, that only strengthens the case for including her.
Scotland has won the Ladies' Home Internationals once in the last quarter of a century.
Paulding: “Selection is open to everyone who meets the criteria, whether full-time or working amateurs, as demonstrated by previous team selections.”
Selection, in my opinion, should be determined by the Order of Merit, not a panel of ‘experts’. Otherwise, what’s the point in the Order of Merit?
Paulding: “We have a published selection document which outlines our criteria and I’m comfortable that we have applied the principles within it.”
If that’s so, those ‘criteria’ and ‘principles’ need to be reconsidered as a matter of urgency. Why? Because Scotland has won the Ladies' Home Internationals once in the last quarter of a century and has, as best I can tell, finished bottom of the pile for the last four years on the trot.
Which leads me neatly onto this from final little pearl from Paulding. “There will always be debate but we believe we have a good track record.” Believe what you like but facts trump opinions every time. To reiterate: bottom of the pile for each of the last four years. Fact.
I'm starting to think our national performance director needs a performance director of his own.
Now, before anyone leaps to the defence of Paulding & Co. by (quite rightly) pointing out that previous Women’s Home Internationals teams and performances were presided over by the now-defunct Scottish Ladies’ Golfing Association, let me remind you there were no Scots in the GB&I Curtis Cup team this year. Not one. Zero. Something is clearly broken.
Whatever way you look at it, there’s no justifying this decision. In any team competition, you want your best and most on-form players playing. Ailsa Summers ticks both those boxes. So, why isn’t she there?
Tell you what, I’m starting to think our performance director needs a performance director of his own.
Delighted to see Sam Torrance named as the fifth of Darren Clarke’s five vice-captains for the impending Ryder Cup match at Hazeltine. As bunkered.co.uk editor Bryce Ritchie quite rightly pointed out, it’s a shrewd decision by Clarke. Torrance is popular with the players and bleeds blue and gold. He understands the Ryder Cup in a way that few players do. No disrespect to Tom Lehman – one of US captain Davis Love III’s assistants – but no player in that team room will be inspired by him. Not in the context of the Ryder Cup, at least. But Torrance? Nah, he gets it. He really, really gets it.
This week I have been… anxiously awaiting confirmation from the European Tour of Keith Pelley’s plans for a six-hole team competition, with music and all sorts of other bells and whistles bolted on. Pelley, above, seems like a perfectly nice bloke and has done a lot of good work since he replaced George O’Grady at the helm of the tour in August last year. However, this latest brainwave of his is an innovation too far. He talks of the ‘need’ for golf to create a variation of itself – like Twenty20 cricket or five-a-side football – as a means of ‘letting the youth actually participate’. Couple of things about this. One, five-a-side is a fun version of football… but it’s not football. That’s why the SPFL, Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and so on don’t host 5-a-side matches. Two, a better means of ‘letting the youth actually participate’ would be making the game more affordable. Address that, not the format of the game, and you’ll get more people playing. I absolutely guarantee it.
And another thing… The 17th hole at Baltusrol – host of this week’s disturbingly low-key PGA Championship – measures 649 yards. The best hole in the Open Championship, just two weeks ago, measured 123. #justsaying
Michael McEwan / The Cut Line
Log-on every Friday morning to read The Cut Line, a new weekly blog by bunkered's Michael McEwan.