It can be a funny old life pawing away at the keys of a laptop for a living.

Some days, for instance, this scribe will blissfully batter and clatter sentences and paragraphs out with all the productive, carefree, smiling nonchalance of Angela Lansbury gleefully thundering out a leather-bound novel in the time it takes the opening credits to roll to a conclusion in an episode of Murder She Wrote.

On those other, laborious days, though, it can feel as if I’m actually hewing individual letters out of an alphabet that’s made of granite and wearily hauling them one by one on to the page like some wheezing Egyptian labourer heaving vast clamps of rock up and down the construction site of a bloomin’ pyramid.

Thankfully in this game, there’s always something to write about. Yesterday, in the Auld Grey Toun of St Andrews, the annual “media round table” took place, an Arthurian-like assembly from the golf scribbling industry who have been beckoned forth into the court of the R&A to discuss all the pressing issues of the day. Trying to prise us away from the complimentary finger buffet, meanwhile, remains a task akin to pulling Excalibur out of the stone.

There are always a variety of stones unturned during this open forum, which you can read plenty more about elsewhere in this supplement, but the issue of single-sex clubs reared its head again during the largely informal, yet hearty debate.

Last week, Royal Aberdeen, which co-exists with Aberdeen Ladies, announced the results of a ballot which declared overwhelmingly to open its clubhouse doors to female members for the first time in its 238-year history.

In an ideal world, of course, we probably wouldn’t need to discuss male golfers doing this and female golfers doing that. We are all simply golfers, after all. The general hoopla that tends to accompany these changes to a club’s constitution is always somewhat fevered. The admission of women in 2018? You may as well hang out the bunting to celebrate grown adults learning how to use a chamber pot properly. It shouldn’t really be an issue, but it is.

Back in the game’s cradle of St Andrews, Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, waxed lyrical about the governing body’s on-going “modernisation agenda”.

There were laudable statements regarding an all-embracing vision for the game and there is no doubt that Slumbers is keen to nurture that ideal and drive it forward.

The R&A and the Ladies Golf Union have just completed their first year as a merged body while Slumbers’ decisive action on Muirfield a couple of years ago, when he stated that the Open would no longer be held at the East Lothian venue until female members were permitted, was a strong statement of intent. The R&A assumed the moral high ground.

Yesterday, however, Slumbers found himself under the cosh a tad in his own surroundings when pressed on another single-sex issue.

It may not be on the same scale as the Open, but next year’s Amateur Championship, the blue riband event of the unpaid game and one of the R&A’s most cherished occasions, is heading to male-only Portmarnock near Dublin. This was an arrangement put in place before great winds of change began sweeping through a variety of fusty corridors, but it has left the R&A in a bit of an awkward position.

“There’s a good thing in life about values, isn’t there, and I think we have some very strong values, and we’ve had some values around pushing and wanting to enhance our game with women members and I stand very tall behind that,” said Slumbers.

“I think there are a lot of things one can wish for in life, but the matter of law is actually quite important, and we had a contract [with Portmarnock], and we will honour that contract, and we are very clear about honouring that contract.”

That is all very, well, honourable but, in their position of authority, the R&A could have sent out an even stronger message with a robust Muirfield-esque stance across the board.

Slumbers and the R&A have discovered that the moral high ground can be a tricky place to exist at times . . .

HeraldScotland | Sport

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