First published on the Golf Monthly website on Thursday 14th December 2006
Good golfers are consistently good, bad golfers are consistently bad. Fergus is decidedly average, but is he consistent?
In order to be a good golfer it’s vital to play consistently. Tiger Woods has only ever missed four cuts in professional golf and Annika Sorenstam takes her ‘A-game’ to every tournament. At the moment I’m achieving a remarkable level of consistency. The problem is the level in question could, at best, be described as average. Apart from the abomination at Newmachar, all my Alliance scores this season have fallen within the range +2 to +7. This week was a boring +4. Good enough to avoid embarrassment in the clubhouse but not good enough to get some serious voucher action. I’m sure I’ve got a good score in there somewhere it’s just a question of locating it. It’s just so easy to fritter away a few shots: a missed three footer here, a penalty drop from a bush there. Yes Fergus, that is why you play off 3. It’s not bad luck, it’s just bad golf.
But, I did have to endure some abnormally bad luck on my way round Cruden Bay. I’ll précis it with a brief description of a particularly unfortunate incident. The 5th, playing 450 yards into the wind, was the hardest hole on the course. Stewart and I both found the fairway but it was still a full 3-wood to get up. We both struck our second shots well: his looked just right of the pin, mine about four or five yards left. Not bad from 220 yards into a stiff breeze. When we got up to the green Stu’s ball was sitting proudly about eight feet from the cup. Mine was nowhere in sight. After a lengthy search I located it about five feet off the left edge in stupidly thick rough. So perfectly was it embedded into a thatch of grass, it looked as though a burrowing animal had found my ball and buried it for winter. Stu made birdie, I made bogey. Those were the two shots that separated us at the end and cost me another fiver.
Cruden Bay has an interesting policy with regards to mats. You have to use them within 150 yards of the green from the fairway and the semi-rough. As you can imagine the semi-rough is rather difficult to identify in the winter and it means the rule is open to some fairly flagrant abuse. I’m happy to play off mats from the fairway as the course will certainly reap the benefits next season, but from the rough? A step too far I feel.
I mentioned in an earlier entry about the problem of slow play in the Alliance. Things came to a head last week at Portlethen where it took some groups 4 hours 45 minutes to get round. 28 competitors had to NR because it was too dark to finish! This week we were all on the clock. Well, sort of. Ron handed out sheets of paper with expected timings per hole. I’m not sure whether or not it was these that did the trick, but we were round in 3 hours 30.