Lost souls

First published on the Golf Monthly website on Friday 22nd January 2010

The harsh winter has left many of Britain’s winter golfers without purpose or direction. It’s a challenging time.

The atrocious weather over the past month has foiled countless golfers’ plans for winter practice. So many who had such good intentions to bat on through the colder months with a view to improving their games for the 2010 season have been denied the chance. It’s left a large percentage of Britain’s winter golfers confused and disorientated.

Go to most golf clubs around the country and you’ll see forlorn figures wandering around deserted car parks bordered by piles of grey snow with bewildered and disturbed looks on their faces. Every 20 minutes or so they walk over to the “Course Closed” sign, shake their heads and tut before trailing into the pro-shop to look at the putters for the fourth time that day.

The pro then faces some familiar questions and gives the following answers –

“No, certainly not today.”

“The greenkeeper and greens convener are going to review it again tomorrow at 10.”

“Yes, but it’s still three inches deep on the fifth.”

If it’s later on in the day, well if it’s the afternoon, these golfing un-dead may then head into the clubhouse to drown their sorrows at, yet again, being denied a game. If they’re lucky they’ll be able to share the misery with some other despondent winter golfers.

Despite the general depression, it’s amazing how the weather can cause even the most negatively minded golfers to display remarkable levels of optimism. I’ve never been described as a “glass half full” type person, I’d see a lottery jackpot win as an unwanted responsibility. But, I’ve frequently looked down a rain-lashed first fairway and remarked, “I think it’s clearing.”

Looking at the various weather forecasts before this week’s Alliance meeting at Montrose, there was plenty of justification for a little optimism. I found one forecast that was predicting winds gusting to just 30mph and another showing only two spots of rain rather than three over the north east coast.

I said last week I was hoping for strong headwinds on every hole at Montrose because, somehow, at Peterhead I’d played the holes where the wind was in my face in level par. So when I stood on the first tee at Montrose and the gusts were whipping straight down the fairway towards me, I was confident. That confidence was dented somewhat by a double bogey, double bogey, bogey start.

To be honest I had a bit of a shocker and, as I struggled on, I increasingly let the weather get to me, using it as the excuse for my poor golf. To be fair on myself, it was close to freezing, the wind was near gale force and the rain was blasting into us sideways as if fired from a power hose. But no, I shouldn’t use that in defence – I would have been rubbish even if it had been clear skies and 20 degrees. To prove it could be done, my dad fired an incredible nett 69 to win his section by five shots.

I’ve just heard an exciting (if slightly unbelievable) rumour that the course at Banchory may be open again, I’ve checked the weather forecast and there are no extreme weather warnings for Aberdeenshire today. It’s time for the lost souls to spark back to life and prepare for action.

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