By Mike Ritz

For just a moment, can we forget about Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson, Saudi Arabia, Jay Monahan and the distracting mess they’ve dumped on golf? Please.

On Tuesday afternoon, August 9, a federal judge in San Jose, California will rule on the next phase of golf’s argle-bargle. Until then, let’s focus on the joy that comes from the game we love.

There was much reason to celebrate this past week. I hope you noticed.

At long last, historic Muirfield hosted the Women’s (British) Open for the very first time. Scottish legend Catriona Matthew hit the opening tee shot at 6:30 Thursday morning. The 2009 Women’s Open champion grew up — and still lives — at neighboring North Berwick. “It was great,” Matthew said. “Coming from here, it was a nice moment to hit the first shot of the Women’s Open.”

Muirfield was the last great bastion of sexism in golf in Great Britain. The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers was formed in 1744 but its male membership didn’t invite women to join the club until 2019.

The club had been dragged kicking and screaming into the real world. Muirfield has hosted the men’s Open 16 times. Its misogynistic fraternity didn’t vote to allow women to join until the R&A ruled Muirfield would not host another Open until it stopped its discriminatory policy.

“It’s a great time for women’s golf,” said England’s Georgia Hall at Muirfield. “I think it’s so important that the women are here this week. It makes such a mark on women’s golf … I think the women’s game is definitely in the best position it’s ever has been, and I’m very happy to be in the middle of my career doing that.”

South African Ashleigh Buhai survived a final-round triple-bogey and four holes of a sudden-death playoff with In Gee Chun to win her first major championship. Buhai had started Sunday with a five-stroke lead and lost it with a 4-over-par 75. Nick Faldo’s 18 pars in the final round of his victorious 1987 Open at Muirfield never looked so good.

Faldo was on our mind this Sunday, but not for being the Open’s greatest modern champion at Muirfield, winning there in both ’87 and ’92. After the women finished their Open at Muirfield on NBC-TV in the States, it was time to turn to CBS to say farewell to Sir Nick.

Faldo has retired from the broadcast booth after serving as an analyst for CBS — and Golf Channel — for 16 years. He will be missed greatly.

Since starting with his days at ABC in 2004, Faldo evolved into a voice for golf whose intelligence, humor and articulation were unmatched. When critiquing sports analysts on TV, it’s easy to point out many’s shortcomings for not having experienced what they are trying to analyze. For Faldo, it was more than just “been there, done that.” He had been there many times and done more than most. Faldo is one of only 14 men in the history of the game who have won at least six major championships. He developed a great skill of sharing with us insight that few have earned. Golf fans learned a lot from Nick Faldo.

And the man who — as an arrogant player — had earned a nickname that rhymed with Nick, evolved into a warm, likable broadcasting personality. No, he didn’t necessarily become huggable, but his entertaining presentation was easy to embrace.

I had hoped to ignore Greg Norman for a bit more, but the time has come to share an inside story about Faldo and his rival. As a reminder, Faldo won his final major at the 1996 Masters when Norman blew a 6-shot lead with a final round 78 and Faldo roared by him with a spectacular 67.

In 2007, many years before I retired from Golf Channel, Faldo joined our channel as our lead analyst for our PGA Tour coverage. The season was just starting in Hawaii and about a dozen on-air types and producers were gathered in the production trailer at Kapalua. A sponsor dropped in to give us all golf shirts. Nick quickly turned down the offer, noting that the shirts were made by Norman and carried his logo. “No thanks,” said Faldo. “By the way, what size is that? 78?”

Thank you Sir Nick.