Firts Tee: Rough ride for the reformer

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The Independent Online
FOLLOWING SEVERAL scandals in swimming, more and more parents are becoming concerned about child protection in sport. The concern is shared by Sport England, who intend to raise the subject with a media campaign.

However, according to Mark Timlett, the golf authorities are oblivious to the dangers. "One of the best National Coaching Foundation courses I've attended was to do with child protection," Timlett said. "It enabled me to adopt a template which I've offered to clubs and county unions. But the English Golf Union has dismissed the issue as irrelevant, although they might soon be forced into action by government legislation. They seem to think that golf is not the sort of sport that would be tainted by scandalous behaviour. The authorities in swimming probably thought the same.

"Most parents are more wary than ever and are insisting on the best protection for their children. If golf can't offer that, it will lose children to other sports. We are years behind other countries. Unfortunately, I'm regarded as a bit of a maverick."

What Timlett, father of four young daughters, means is that he recently resigned from the Knole Park Club in Kent when Kelvin Mackenzie, the former editor of the Sun, became a member. "It was him or me," Timlett, who was on the committee and who ran the junior section, said. "I'd never met the man, but I've never met Saddam Hussein either and I'm sure I wouldn't have liked him."

Mackenzie became a member and moved into Talk Radio while Timlett joined Westerham GC, where he has established a new junior section. "Anyhow," Timlett added, "who listens to Talk Radio?"

The sidekick's dilemma

AS IT happens there was a significant shift in listening figures last week when First Tee was invited to Talk Radio's golf programme, The 19th Hole. Despite interrogation of Paxman-like intensity, Mark James would not reveal whether he would captain Europe's Ryder Cup team or play in it. What he did say is that he wouldn't do both. While James sees if he can win enough money to qualify (unless, of course, he picks himself), Sam Torrance, his number two, will be cheering his every shot.

General weakness

GREG DYKE'S appointment as Director-General of the BBC will not set Peter Alliss's pulse racing. Dyke, a director of Manchester United, could have spent a portion of his pounds 55,000 donation to the Labour Party on raising his social standing by joining a club like Wentworth. Unfortunately, Greg, a former colleague on the now defunct Evening Mail at Slough (he didn't mention that on his cv to the BBC), doesn't know a sand wedge from a bacon butty.

Links of history

THE SAME could not be said of the late Willie Whitelaw, to whom golf was almost as important as politics. Indeed, given the choice between the two he might have elected for a play-off. The former deputy to Mrs Thatcher - he and Denis often discussed their handicaps - was born in Nairn, near Inverness. In 1933, at the age of 16, he won the boys' championship with a 73, a record that stood for 51 years. Had he not gone into politics could he have been a contender? No. He was a gentleman.

Walk on the wild side

SHOULD John Daly confine himself to Glasgow's cultural centre this week, he should be at home at the Standard Life Loch Lomond tournament. The reformed alcoholic - it was a bit cruel of Murphys' to provide tee-markers resembling pints of their stout at the Irish Open - can enjoy a walk on the wild side.

The 470-acre estate at Loch Lomond is one of only two courses to be honoured for its contribution to flora and fauna. The other is Valderrama, despite the fact that its owner, Jimmy Patino, once shot a cow because it had wandered on to the course.

There are bat boxes, nesting owls, giant redwoods and a yew thought to be 1,000 years old at Loch Lomond. Having rejected the sponsors' product at Druid's Glen, Daly might like to adopt a more standard life on the bonnie bonnie banks.

At the Irish Open, the first hole-in- one on Thursday earned paying spectators a free pint. The Loch Lomond Championship is taking a more sober route, incorporating a food and beverage voucher with admission tickets. There is up-market catering this year, provided by a company called Amadeus, as well as the Savage Sausage Sensation and Lavacious Noodles, none of which will be available on the voucher scheme.

That is restricted to sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and soft drinks. No regional delicacies to whet the appetite, not even the semblance of a Scotch egg and no wee dram of the water of life. Perhaps it's just as well.

There's an island in the middle of the loch inhabited by kangaroos, but the very mention of the phenomenon is sure to convince people that you've mistaken the golf course for the whisky trail.

All in a name

IF CHUBBY CHANDLER'S stable of thoroughbreds are not finding the winners' enclosure with the regularity of last season at the moment it is not because of lack of sponsorship. In fact, they may be finding the sheer weight of names on their bags and clubs a handicap.

When Chubby refers to his clients he sounds like something out of Marketing Weekly. Thus, it's Lee (Ping, Titleist, Centrum, Lyle and Scott, Golf Monthly, Gremlin Interactive) Westwood; Darren (MacGregor, Titleist, Conte of Florence, Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links, Halliwell Jones BMW) Clarke and Andrew (Titleist, Lyle and Scott, the Duke's Course and Old Course Hotel, St Andrews, Bentleys Lexus, Warrington) Coltart.

The unequal struggle

DO NOT talk to lady professional golfers about the present bitching over the prize money of their counterparts in the tennis world. The women's singles champion at Wimbledon will receive something in excess of pounds 400,000. A competitor on the Ladies' European Golf Tour could spend a lifetime earning that sum.

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