First published on the Golf Monthly website on Monday 13th August 2007
After a weekend of heavy golfing, Fergus reflects on the standard scratch system and a set of six dining room chairs.
I’m relatively clued up on modern music, I can surf the internet as well as the next man and SpongeBob SquarePants makes me laugh. Things like this firm up my belief that I remain a youngster. Practically still a teenager in fact. Occasionally, however, events in my life provide irrefutable evidence that I’m not actually as young as I think. Last week I bought a set of six George III vernacular dining room chairs at an auction at Bonhams in Knightsbridge. This is just not something a 17-year-old would do.
When it comes to golf I used to think I had a clear way of defining my youth: I carry my clubs. But recently I’ve noticed juniors abandoning the old fashioned method of manual haulage in favour of a worrying new means of club transportation. Many of them are using electric trolleys.
I’m taking this opportunity to tell juniors, and their parents, this is lazy and unnecessary. Golf is good exercise but it’s even better if you carry your clubs. Motorised trolleys do have a place. They’re fantastic for people who are a bit older, have a recurring injury or other physical reasons for not carrying. They’re also great for pros and top amateurs who don’t have a caddy. It allows them to take a tour bag packed with waterproofs, new gloves, balls, drinks etc. when they’re participating in serious competitions. But for a 16-year-old out for a bounce game with his pals? Come on boys get some backbone.
I played 72 holes this weekend and I can confirm carrying a bag for 18 hours is tiring. It’d probably even be tiring for a teenager. But, I feel ok this morning and I probably got a little fitter and lost a bit of excess fat to boot.
The weekend’s golfing marathon came about as it was the men’s Open at Banchory on Saturday then the re-scheduled Journal Cup at Portlethen on Sunday: both 36 hole competitions.
I’ve decided after these events that next year I’m going to try and play in more Opens. It’s so much easier to get your handicap down that way. My first round at Portlethen was a 78 (six over par.) Even though the course was playing very long, it was raining and the rough was horrendous I felt disappointed and had already mentally put 0.1 on my handicap. But, when the entire field is made up of low single figure and plus handicap golfers there are very few amazing nett scores. The CSS was 75 and I made buffer. In the afternoon I scored an improved 74 and was cut.
The standard scratch system is effective but it does have flaws. Better players are reluctant to compete in events open to golfers of all handicaps as CSS will invariably be lower. It means the best golfers at a club rarely tee it up in the Saturday medal. It’s a shame. Perhaps it would be fairer if a different CSS was calculated for each category.