First published on the Golf Monthly website on Monday 20th September 2010
Last week witnessed the last significant event of the 2010 summer golf season. OK, there’s a little competition going on down Newport way in a couple of weeks but, from my perspective, it’s all over after the “Tuesday Championship.”
I’ve written about it before. Basically it’s an annual, three-day, trip enjoyed by a group of the better players at my club plus a couple of ringers. The format is four rounds of scratch medal play, (reflecting our collective delusion over our own ability.) To be fair, one of the group Scott Larkin plays of a +3 handicap and is currently just outside the top-300 on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He, understandably, went into the tournament as heavy favourite.
Big Stu, a former regular in my blogs and ex-assistant pro at Banchory, was far less fancied by the bookies. Last year he embarked on a new career on the Isle of Lewis working for a salmon farm – he’d played just one round of golf since last year’s Championship.
Form among the other participants was difficult to call – Ross, Martin and my seasons could, at best, be described as mixed while Ryan is always something of an unknown quantity.
Round one was a real baptism of fire. After no golf for 12 months, Stu’s return to competitive action was to be off the white tees at Carnoustie in a howling gale!
On the front nine the wind was largely against. At one point I threw up a handful of grass and I’d estimate it landed somewhere around Montrose. The first is generally one of the more straightforward holes on the course but, playing into Hurricane Cuthbert, it required a driver and a 3-wood.
It was truly brutal out there, (even if every local we spoke to described it as, “just a wee breeze.”) I rate Carnoustie as the hardest course I’ve played even without a wind, but with gusts up to 50mph, it really is quite difficult. There are no let-up holes and, even the 15th, 16th and 18th being downwind didn’t help much. In fact, it was over the closing stretch that my already tattered round fell apart completely.
On the 15th, it was 295 yards to run out of fairway where gorse waited straight ahead. I hit a 3-wood but the wind was so strong it had no chance of stopping and ended on the edge of a bush. Stewart helpfully told me, after watching the result, he’d thought 3-wood was too much. Thanks big man. Anyway, I hacked out, hacked up, failed to get up-and-down from the side of the green and took six.
I then had a “Hitler” (two shots in the bunker) on the 16th (en-route to another double,) lost a ball on 17th and took seven then rounded things off with another bogey. Over the last five my scorecard read like something Maurice Flitcroft would have turned in – 6, 5, 7, 5. I finished with 88. I hasten to add, it was not the worst effort in the group.
Despite the weather, we all agreed Carnoustie was in fabulous condition and a simply awesome test of golf. When asked by a member of the Carnoustie Golf Club how he got on Ross replied, “Yeah good, it’s just a bit too easy.” The chap chuckled, it wasn’t hard to spot the sarcasm.
The wind remained for our next day (36 holes at Scotscraig) where the general standard of play didn’t improve greatly. This might have also had something to do with our night out in Dundee where it was Freshers’ Week, but it’s preferable to blame the wind.
The last round was at Edzell (more wind) and the final results were pretty much as predicted – Scott won by five and Ross comfortably picked up the wooden spoon award for the second year running. I limped home in fourth place with four dismal scores of 88, 77, 82 and 83. What was most surprising was Stewart’s second place finish and his final round of one-under-par 70. Incredible stuff for a man who had barely touched a club for 12 months and a salutary lesson that practice is worthless.
I said the event marked the end of the 2010 summer season. That also means the start of the 2010/2011 winter season. I make my Alliance debut this Wednesday at Huntly and I can’t wait. I just hope it’s not too windy.