The European Tour gets back under way in typically eye-catching style on Wednesday with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship teeing off the three-week Middle East swing.
Tommy Fleetwood will be trying to win the event for the third year in a row against the likes of world No 3 Dustin Johnson and last year’s double major winner, Brooks Koepka.
It lifts the lid on a season that, even without a Ryder Cup, is filled with promise. Never before have all four majors been held in the same season at venues with the collective allure of this year’s glittering quartet. Here are 10 dates for your calendar that you will want to circle in red ink.
1. The Masters, Augusta (April 11-14)
Rory McIlroy’s view that the Deep South pageant has grown to the point where it’s now the No 1 major might be debatable, but there’s no question the sense of anticipation seems to rise every year.
Not even McIlroy taking his latest shot at the career Grand Slam will be enough for top billing, with all eyes on Tiger Woods to see if he can resume his major quest following his near misses at the Open and USPGA last year.
2. The Open, Royal Portrush (July 18-21)
The 68-year wait for the return of the game’s oldest event to Northern Ireland is blessedly almost over. Get ready to swoon as the camera gorges eagerly on the stupendous views, as one of the UK’s top three courses basks in the spotlight.
All you need to know about the sort of welcome that is in store on the Antrim coastline, is that this will be the first all-ticket Open — and it sold out in minutes.
3. The US Open, Pebble Beach (June 13-16)
Just as a win at the Open when played at St Andrews carries with it a special meaning, so the same applies to its American equivalent.
Adding to the good news is the fact that the Mickey Mouse years, when the tournament was plagued by joke set-ups, may now be behind us, with new man John Bodenhamer now at the helm.
4 USPGA Championship, Bethpage Black (May 16-19)
I’m not a fan of this new date but it’s good to begin on this revered Long Island municipal, where New Yorkers still happily sleep in their cars overnight to grab a tee-time.
The sign by the first tee might be the best in golf: ‘Warning — The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers.’
5. Solheim Cup, Gleneagles (September 13-15)
It will be hard to beat the atmosphere created by the good people of Des Moines in Iowa last time, but, given how special the Ryder Cup was here in 2014, it might be close. Is it too much to ask for a little more of that freakily good weather we witnessed in Perthshire five years ago?
6. AIG Women’s British Open, Woburn (August 1-4)
The rearranging of the men’s calendar should allow some breathing space for this event, where Georgia Hall will put her title on the line on the course her British rival Charley Hull calls home.
7. British Masters, Hillside (May 9-12)
Thank goodness this event was saved at the last minute. Not the greatest date, but with Tommy Fleetwood as host and the venue one of Britain’s finest, it’s a better outcome than seemed likely.
8. Tour Championship, East Lake (August 22-25)
The three-event FedEx Cup will now dominate August, with the bonus claimed by Justin Rose last year increased from $10million to a still more staggering $15m. Let’s hope the climax is half as good as in 2018, when Woods won the final event.
9. Players Championship, sawgrass (March 14-17)
The PGA Tour’s flagship event moves from May, when the ground was hard and the event was claimed by some decidedly obscure names. This year, it will be interesting to see if the softer conditions suit the bombers more than in the past.
10. Walker Cup, Royal Liverpool (Sept 7-8)
Like the Ryder Cup, this amateur equivalent played between teams from Britain and Ireland and America has been dominated by the home side in recent editions, with no away wins since 2007. One man hoping to whistle a different tune is the US captain, Nat Crosby — son of legendary crooner Bing.