A tactical error

First published on the Golf Monthly website on Thursday 1st February 2007

Trying to outfox the Scottish weather is like trying to play a mind trick on Derren Brown. You’ll never succeed and will probably end up looking foolish.

In the entrance hall at Inverallochy Golf Club there’s a signed photo of Mark O’Meara. It commemorates the time he visited the course. After our round we debated why the two-time Major winner would have travelled to this north-east golfing outpost. Maybe he has a distant relative who hailed from the small fishing village or perhaps he’s an avid twitcher and was interested in the colonies of seabirds living in the area. Moving further into the realms of fantasy, we wondered if the R&A had tasked him with reconnoitering the Buchan venue as a possible destination for future Open Championships. After much conjecture we decided it was just that someone had played a cruel trick on him.

Although it’s a long way to Inverallochy (1 hour 40 minutes in fact) we almost made it without a wrong turning. But, within sight of the clubhouse I attempted an off road route through a lady’s back garden. Luckily I realised my mistake before ploughing through her washing line. Apparently it wouldn’t have been the first time her bloomers had been scattered down the first fairway.

My newly instituted clothing technique backfired this week. Sporting more layers than the Beckham’s wedding cake, I was fully prepared to endure another battle against the bitter cold and the ferocious wind. But, in an amazing twist of fate, the weather was rather pleasant. It was 10 deg C and the wind was minimal. Halfway through the back nine I realised I was sweating. It was sort of like a Formula One team opting for the wrong tyre strategy. No matter how well the driver performs he’s never going to keep up with the guys whose teams got it right.

I won’t beat around the bush. Inverallochy is not the best course on the Alliance circuit. But to the club’s credit, the greens were in excellent condition: very fast for the time of year and extremely true. I’m convinced, however, the holes were not regulation size. I can’t see any other reason for the number of putts I missed. They included a three-footer for eagle and a pair of two-footers for bogey.

When it comes to golf I’m like Jekyll and Hyde. My long game is competent but my short game is woeful. Just like last week I played well from tee to green but showed a bizarre lack of skill and finesse from 30 yards in. Good Fergus thinks I’ll eventually learn to chip and putt becoming a force to be reckoned with on the links. Unfortunately, Evil Fergus thinks I’ll never manage it and will endure a lifetime of duffs, thins and lip-outs.

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