First we had Royal and Ancient and the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers and their men only intransigence.
Then came the opposition to the proposed rule change on anchoring, Vijay Singh’s Deer Antler Spray and his decision to PGA Tour followed quickly by petty name-calling between Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods over alleged gamesmanship and mutual dislike.
Now we have a couple of serious cases of foot-in-mouth from both Garcia and the European Tour’s CEO George O’Grady on foot of the Spaniard’s crass “fried chicken” jibe at Woods’ during the European Tour’s annual gala dinner.
Phew. Any danger than a golf tournament might break out during the BMW PGA at Wentworth this week appears doomed to failure.
Garcia and O’Grady have been charged with dragging golf back into the “dark ages” of Alf Garnett and Basil Fawlty style generalisations about race.
O’Grady’s clumsy use of the word “coloured” in describing Garcia’s legion of black American athlete friends and his decision to let him go unpunished for the “fried chicken” joke that has caused him so much embarrassment has been widely condemned.
Frankly, as Peter Dawson said in relation to the tardiness of the ban on anchoring, it’s never too late to right a wrong and he apologised almost immediately.
Shooting the messenger will be part of that deal with this story. Yet again, the press - fuelled by the public outcry on social media sites - will be accused of over-reacting and making mountains out of molehills.
As one player put it when avoiding a leading question recently: “You’re just looking for a story.”
Well, quite. If golf wants the big money that power other major sports, it must answer the same awkward questions.
Yet it’s anathema to the culture on tour. You just had to listen to Rory McIlroy this week when talking about the press speculation on his impending management split.
“If you want to be in the circus, you have to put up with the clowns,” McIlroy said when confessing that something was “up” with his management relationship and the distraction it has caused.
O’Grady has plenty of other things to worry about other than Garcia’s, and his own, verbal triple bogeys.
Making sure his top stars continue to play in the BMW PGA and, in McIlroy’s case, the Irish Open, is crucial to the success of those events.
There has already been speculation in the press this week that McIlroy will not be at Wentworth, a track that’s well down the list of his favourite courses, next year.
Given his finish to yesterday’s opening round, where he cruised to three under with six to play in cool conditions only to fritter away five shots coming home for a 74, he sounds like a man counting down the days when he can base himself permanently in the US and limit his appearance on this side of the pond to the Open.
“It was tricky,” said the Florida resident. “The conditions are obviously not ideal. It’s cold; it’s windy. The golf course is playing pretty long.
“The thing that gets me is the cold. When the hands get old‑‑ I was wearing mittens all day. It’s just tough. Your body just doesn’t feel the way it usually does whenever you’re playing and we are so used to playing in warm conditions these days. It’s a little bit of a change.
“I’d love to say I’m used to playing in these conditions. But I feel like I’m not, I’m pretty unfamiliar with them over the past few years playing in warmer climates, and it takes a bit of an adjustment.
“Your body doesn’t feel the same as when it does when you’re playing in warm weather and your hands get very cold and I was wearing mittens all day to try keep them warm. Yeah, hopefully shoot a decent score tomorrow and get in for the weekend. The weather is supposed to improve then.”
Playing partner Graeme McDowell took seven at the last after a visit to the water to match McIlroy’s 74 on a course that simply doesn’t suit his eye when it’s playing long and soft.
But they were also back in sync as friends after McDowell eased McIlroy’s obvious irritation over the comments McDowell made on his management split when asked about it in Bulgaria last week.
McDowell said :”Rory read a few things that I had said, and after I explained to him where I was coming from with those things, you know, I was merely trying to speculate about speculation.
“I’m not in a position to be giving any official or unofficial confirmation of what’s going on because to be honest with you I don’t really know what’s going on. After I evidently explained to him where I was coming from, he understood and we have no problems. We are very good friends.
“The last thing I want to happen, whatever happens between Rory McIlroy and Horizon Sports is that him and I lose our friendship. That’s not going to happen. We are very good friends and all is good.”
If McDowell and McIlroy were out of sorts, Shane Lowry was in his element in the elements, shooting a two under 70 to a bogey free 71 by playing partner and European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley that left them within touching distance of surprise leader James Kingston (66).
Lowry said: “I’m delighted. Obviously it’s a big week and it’s very important to play well in the tournament today. Weather is getting a bit worse than it was this morning.”
Fourth in 2010, he added: “I love this place, love coming back. It’s a great tournament‑‑ I was just saying coming in, how good it is to just play an event like this. The crowds are very‑‑ they know a lot about golf and they are very knowledgeable. It’s great to play here and it’s great to be here.”
Playing well in front of McGinley, who dissected the course in 17 pars and one birdie, was a bonus with a view to next year’s match at Gleneagles, though nothing was said.
“It was good,” he said. “Obviously I know Paul, he’s been good to me over the last few years since I turned pro, and, yeah, it was good to play with him.
“Obviously that’s going to be a goal of mine next year. It would be nice to play under Paul as captain, yeah.”
Damien McGrane finished strongly for a level par 72 as Michael Hoey posted a 73 featuring an eagle, three birdies, four bogeys, a double bogey and nine pars.
Darren Clarke finished double bogey-bogey-par to turn a possible 69 into a 74 that left him tied for 82nd with McIlroy, McDowell, David Higgins and Peter Lawrie.
Gareth Maybin struggled to a 76 while Warrenpoint native Barrie Trainor was in one of four grups that failed to finish, just one over with four holes to play when play was suspended.
A mid afternoon thunderstorm delayed play for over an hour and it was interesting to see late starter Martin Wiegele get to four under with five to play just days after losing out to Brendan McCarroll on the Alps Tour.