Turbulent times

First published on the Golf Monthly website on Thursday 16 October 2008

As the world heads into recession Fergus finds some strange parallels between the global economy and his golf game.

The news this morning continues to depress. Asian stock markets have crashed upon fears of a global recession and the FTSE has followed suit. It seems government efforts to resolve the banking crisis and prevent recession have been too little, too late.

In many ways the global economy can be compared to my golf game in 2008.

The year began with fears of a downturn. The heights reached in 2007 were thought by most experts to be unsustainable and turbulent times were predicted by all but the hyper-optimistic and the ignorant.

In the early part of the year the signs looked ominous: The mortgage market was shrinking, as was my ability to play any sort of chip or pitch. Worse still, my driving (normally a “northern rock” solid part of my game) had become wild and unpredictable – practically identical in that respect to the violently fluctuating price of oil.

Things worsened through the summer as it became increasingly apparent that banks had stopped lending to customers and, more importantly, to each other. Meanwhile, my lamentable iron-play and shabby short-game was lending nothing to my chances or returning a respectable medal round.

The markets held on obstinately, the FTSE remained above 5,000 just as my handicap somehow remained at two. But then, in September, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and banking shares began to plummet. The FTSE dropped to 3932 and my handicap rose to 3. Something had to be done.

Last Saturday was the final competition of the year at Banchory and my performance almost exactly mirrored the Government’s £37 billion bail out of Britain’s ailing banks. I posted a season’s best 68 for a nett 65 and a 0.3 handicap reduction (back to two.) It was enough to temporarily revive investor confidence but not enough to stem the tide. By the middle of this week things were in freefall once again – the markets were tumbling, as was my name down the Alliance leaderboard.

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