Stories of interest you might have missed…
Play faster. That was the message from Rory McIlroy on how to grow the game, according to this BBC story. "Sport England figures show that the number of 16-25-year-olds playing the game regularly almost halved between 2009-10 and 2012-13. Everything's so instant now and everyone doesn't have as much time as they used to,' world number one McIlroy told BBC Radio 4. So you maybe try some way of speeding the game up.'"
Ernie Els is 45 now, and time is not an ally in his quest to achieve what he once thought was imminent. "When I was young, I was very cocky and thought I was going to win all the majors by nomination," Els said in this story by Chris Cutmore for the Daily Mail. "I thought the Masters was going to be the first one I'd win and then the Open, and then the US Open and US PGA Championship. Well, I haven't won the Masters so far and I haven't won the US PGA, so I'm going to try to win the Masters before I retire. This would possibly be my biggest career achievement."
"In a change from her usual routine, Charley Hull plans to give herself a break on Christmas Day and allow herself the chance to toast another season of stunning success. In recent years, while the rest of us have been tucking into our turkey and trimmings, the 18-year-old has been pounding golf balls on the range," Iain Carter of the BBC writes in this look at her breakout season. "In 2014 she has come of age in every respect and that's why she won't be practising on the big day. I don't think I'm going to this year because I'm 18 and I can drink.'"
En route to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico, to christen his first course design, Tiger Woods stopped by Blue Jack National, scheduled to be his first U.S. design, outside Houston. "I've been to Houston many times and I never, ever thought that Houston had hills," Woods said in this story by Jenny Dial Creech in the Houston Chronicle. "I always thought it was a very flat city. To come out here, it was totally different to see this type of topography. It just blew my mind."
"Winston Churchill would have been impressed. The late British prime minister delivered one of the most famous quotations in golf when he described it as a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.'" Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press looks at the year gone by from the perspective of the ill-designed weapons, putting forth the best shots struck by them, including Mo Martin's remarkable 3-wood shot to the 18th hole at Royal Birkdale that enabled her to win the Women's British Open.