During all the years that it was decently supported, when the world's best players contested it, there was an audible call for the World Matchplay Championship at Wentworth to be designated as a fifth major.
To be a bit catty about this, I would have made it the fourth major. Ahead of the United States Masters.
Okay, that's heresy. That's to be damned disrespectful to one of golf's cherished (in America, anyway) institutions but please listen to my aweless argument.
The Masters' field, while it bulges with the game's superstars, is then completed by so many absolute no-hopers that it's only, roughly, three-quarters of a tournament. How can you call three-quarters of a tournament a major championship?
It's great to see Arnie and Jack (who finished sixth at the age of 58) and the other old-timers on parade; I can enjoy a good nostaglia kick as much as the next man. And I will concede that the real golf that is played at Augusta National each May is far from ceremonial and I would guess that if you questioned, say, the world's top 100 golfers and asked them which major they would choose to win, the consensus would come down for the Masters.
But to return to the World Matchplay. That was an elite event; only the best could play in it and to scan the honours board is to be reminded of how many of the game's greats have battled their way along the Burma Road.
This is how hard it is to win: for all his 18 major championships, Jack Nicklaus only won it once; Peter Thomson never won it, nor did Lee Trevino, nor Bernhard Langer. Nor has Tiger Woods.
Woods, of course, only played in it once and Mark O'Meara beat him in the final in 1998. And by the looks of things, Woods will never have his name up besides Palmer, Player, Norman, Ballesteros, Faldo, Singh and Els and the rest.
He declines to play, thereby setting a desperately disappointing trend that is leading this wonderful tournament, if not exactly towards oblivion, then way down the ladder of prestige.
Last year, they tried to tempt Woods with a first prize of £1 million. One million quid! And, for the same obscene amount of money, he won't come this year, either.
Not only will Woods not come, neither will Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Chris DiMarco, Davis Love . . . I could go on.
The World Matchplay Championship, which begins at Wentworth today, a month earlier than usual, under the sponsorship of HSBC, is remarkable now for the number of top players who, despite the vast fortune at stake, give it the cold shoulder.
And you wonder what on earth the game is coming to. How can you not want to try to win £1 million?
The answer must be that golf is now so drenched in money that those two-aeroplane types at the top of the game can make all they need in run- of- the- mill tournaments.
If they came to Wentworth, they would be required to play two rounds a day and not even the lure of a million smackers can persuade them to do that.
So the organisers are left to talk up this year's tournament as best they can. The leading seven from the European Tour will be there, they tell us and, all told, the field have between them won 278 tournaments and eight major championships.
Let's finish with this thought: I saw my first Matchplay in 1980 and I haven't missed one for the last 12 years. And the best of the lot? It was 2001 when, for reasons other than the usual one, the Americans wouldn't come; not one of them.
Organisers IMG had to settle for a field of Europeans, plus Vijay Singh, Adam Scott and Retief Goosen and the golf they played over the four days was incredible.
In the first round Padraig Harrington beat Nick Faldo 9&8, Ian Woosnam saw off Goosen 4&3 and Sam Torrance (yes, they even had to dig up old Sam) trounced Ballesteros 3&2.
Torrance, having beaten Singh in the second round, reached the semi-final and Woosnam, with an incredible 10&9 victory over Lee Westwood, went all the way.
Woosie beat Harrington in the final and I would say that this was his finest hour. Transcending even the major championship that he won - the US Masters!