Spare me your stereotypes about golf being an old person’s sport. Golf is for young people – and now there is stone-cold proof.

The top 10 in the first updated world rankings of 2019 make some very interesting reading:

  1. Justin Rose (aged 38)
  2. Brooks Koepka (28)
  3. Dustin Johnson (34)
  4. Justin Thomas (25)
  5. Bryson DeChambeau (25)
  6. Xander Schauffele (25)
  7. Jon Rahm (24)
  8. Rory McIlroy (29)
  9. Francesco Molinari (36)
  10. Tony Finau (29)

That’s an average age of 29.3 which, according to the data analyst who goes by the Twitter moniker @VC606, is the youngest the top 10 golfers in the world have ever been.

And then another data analyst, @mathzero, pitched in with a blog about the average age of tennis players in the world rankings. Here’s the top 10:

  1. Novak Djokovic (31)
  2. Rafael Nadal (32)
  3. Roger Federer (37)
  4. Alexander Zverev (21)
  5. Juan Martin del Potro (30)
  6. Kevin Anderson (32)
  7. Marin Cilic (30)
  8. Dominic Thiem (25)
  9. Kei Nishikori (29)
  10.  John Isner (30)

An average age of 29.7 which, it turns out, is as old as it’s ever been.

What’s more, it is the first time ever that the average age of the top 10 in golf is younger than the average age of the top 10 in tennis. The first time the two lines have crossed in the world’s two most popular individual sports.

And it’s not just the men’s game. Here is the top 10 rundown for the women’s game:

  1. Ariya Jutanugarn (23)
  2. Sung-hyun Park (25)
  3. So-yeon Ryu (28)
  4. Inbee Park (30)
  5. Lexi Thompson (23)
  6. Minjee Lee (22)
  7. Nasa Hataoka (19)
  8. Georgia Hall (22)
  9. Brooke Henderson (21)
  10. Jin-young Ko (23)

That’s an average age of 23.6. That’s incredible. Who says young girls aren’t getting into golf?

It’s also worth noting that the tennis governing bodies reined in the ball in their sport, while golf’s didn’t. So while the so-called bombers have been allowed to flourish in our game, the likes of Roger Federer have been able to compete at the highest level well into the late 30s.

I should add I am very much in the let-the-ball-fly camp and have no interest in the R&A and USGA restricting how far we can hit the golf ball. Show me a golfer who says they don’t get a thrill from ripping one down the middle of the fairway and I’ll show you a liar.

Left flagging

If you haven’t read through everything our rules expert Steve Carroll has written about the 2019 changes then you need to get on that. He is the oracle when it comes to rules.

The knee-height drop rule has been my favourite – mainly because there is no way of doing it without looking ridiculous…

But the one that’s been the biggest cause of contention is putting with the flagstick in.

So much so that we wrote this and this AND this on the subject.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into too much detail on the matter. But I have been utterly bemused by how upset people get over these things. You can still take the flag out, people!

Also, surely in friendly rounds you’ve always left the flag in? I know I have.

New Year, new me

Ugh. What a horrible phrase. Do people still do New Year’s Resolutions?

Either way, I played 20 rounds of golf last year. Full rounds, that is – I played almost twice a week if you count little lunchtime or post-work jaunts which usually entailed loops of four or five holes.

So, yeah, I want to play more full rounds of golf this year. Anyone fancy a game?