Fergus remembers just how important putting is when it comes to compiling a respectable score, and he attempts to put getting older into perspective.

We all know it. I know it, but sometimes I forget that golf is all about chipping and putting. Beyond a certain standard, the average amateur can get the ball somewhere down there off the tee, and somewhere up there with their second. But what separates those with lower handicaps from those with higher is the ability to get the ball in the hole effectively from relatively short range.

I’ve been putting well in recent weeks (thanks to my adoption of the increasingly popular “claw” grip) and have posted some decent scores as this year’s Alliance season has drawn to a close as a result. I had been feeling I’d turned a significant corner. But yesterday at Ellon, I left my putting boots in the car and, as a result, my score was a very disappointing 79. I three-putted from 18 inches on the par-3 7th, I failed to hole anything of more than a few feet the whole way round and I missed one the length of a hedgehog on the last.

Tips for holing short putts:

If I’d putted the way I have in previous weeks, I could conservatively knock six off and the 79 would have been turned into a respectable 73; I would have ended the day feeling pretty satisfied with my game. As it was I left thinking I was back to square one. At first I wasn’t prepared to blame it on my putting, I was dwelling on a couple of loose shots and a poorly struck wedge on the 14th. But, actually, every round I play features a few loose shots and the odd miscue. The difference is in the recovery. Salvage a par (or even a bogey) with a good putt and those poor shots are of far less significance.

Watching the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, one of the commentators mentioned that both Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott were 100% on scrambling for their rounds of 67. They saved par every time they missed a green. A quick calculation on my scrambling yesterday shows I was 12.5% on scrambling. I missed eight greens and got up and down once. Twice I took four, rather than three to get down so, in fact, I was -12.5% on scrambling. If I had been 100% on scrambling I would have shot 69 rather than 79… Time to go to the short game area and putting green I think.

Some of the field were obviously putting well yesterday in the last event of the Golf Monthly Final Series on the North East Alliance. Sean Lawrie of the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre and Fraserburgh amateur Gordon Munro were co-winners on the day with extremely impressive scores of seven-under-par 63. Well done boys!

It’s my birthday today so I woke feeling even more depressed than usual. But I was cheered by the children’s gift of a bottle of Eden Mill’s St Andrews gin… What? Is there something wrong with that? I’m assuming they didn’t buy it themselves. I was also buoyed by the thought that my age is now a number I really like – 36. I’m level fours for the front nine, I’ve made the cut, I’ve completed two rounds in a single day…

I didn’t have any golf-based anxiety dreams this week and I can only assume this is because I’ve returned to scoring poorly. My brain isn’t anxious about my golf anymore because it’s reassuringly crummy. Just imagine the anxiety dreams Jason Day must have… Or maybe it doesn’t work like that.