I can’t agree with the cliché: never beat your boss. Although I think a strategic defeat is probably the smart move in certain circumstances, I want to win no matter what. If I’d been a lowly minister in Fidel Castro’s post revolution Cuba and had been asked to join him and Che Guevara in their famous round, I’d still have struggled to purposefully put one out-of-bounds or miss a three-footer. I don’t think Fidel and Che would have taken kindly to me fist pumping after boxing one for birdie on the 14th.
For me golf has to be competitive. A bounce game with nothing at stake just doesn’t compare to a medal round or a big money match. It’s one of the reasons I love playing in the Alliance through the winter – there’s always something to play for. Unfortunately I was in London again for this week’s Alliance, but don’t fear, I got my fix of competitive golf.
Mike (GM editor) and Jezz (GM equipment editor) were up in Scotland for meetings and they invited me to make up a Golf Monthly three-ball at Lundin Links. Ah, a chance to test my approach to the aforementioned cliché. On the 8th hole I found myself trying to hit out of a muddy streambed in a desperate attempt to avoid a penalty drop. At that point my suspicions were confirmed. Victory is all that matters in my egocentric golfing world.
It turned out to be an extremely close contest, all three players displaying the odd flair of brilliance interspersed with varying degrees of mediocrity. But, we were all trying hard to win and it was clear nobody would capitulate. As a result it was a highly enjoyable round of golf. The pleasure was heightened by the speed of play. With the course virtually to ourselves, we made it round in less than three hours. We didn’t have to wait on a single shot – golf as it should be.
The contest came down to the final green where all three of us squandered opportunities to win outright – the final result was a three-way tie on 31 stableford points. Each of us could have secured victory well before that if the following had occurred:
Fergus – If he hadn’t semi-shanked his approach to the 4th, attempted that ludicrous shot out of the burn on the 8th, gone for a bit of pinball wizard action in the trees to the side of the 13th or snap hooked one left into the gorse on the 15th.
Mike – If he hadn’t had a T.C Chen at the 1st, tried to play one over a stream from the bunker on the 6th, caught a putt fat on the 15th or knifed a pitch into the 18th.
Jezz – If he hadn’t three jabbed from 10 feet on the 4th, dunched one into the burn on the 5th, gone for a bit of Ray Mears style ‘bushcraft’ to the left of the 16th or missed a two footer at the 17th.