I played another decent Medal round yesterday – a one under par 68. I’ve been doing a good deal better in Medal play this season and I have to put it down to a stronger mental approach. I’ve been trying to stay positive and never give up. When I made a double bogey at the 12th yesterday I dropped to two over. Last year I would have crumbled like a cheap biscuit and gone up by 0.1. Yesterday, however, I dug deep and played the last six in three under to salvage the round. Hopefully, I should be back down to one.

“Aye, but, I suppose, you do play at Banchory.”  I’ve heard a couple of people say that recently with regards to my, and others’, handicap. It’s something that irritates me – the difficulty of a course should not be directly related to your handicap. If you play an easier track, your handicap will not automatically be lower. The sss and css are designed to ensure that handicaps are consistent across the country, no matter what a course’s style or difficulty.

To explain – The par at Banchory is 69 but sss is 68. In Medals, css is generally 68 and occasionally 67. So, to guarantee playing to one, I have to shoot no worse than level par. At Murcar Links (one of the toughest courses in Aberdeenshire) par is 71, sss is 72 and css is often 73. So there I could shoot four over par and still make the buffer zone. Is Murcar four shots per round harder than Banchory in relation to par? Probably. Would I play to the same handicap at Murcar? Probably.

Earlier this week I played at Alford. It’s a very pleasant wee course but I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say – it doesn’t present much of a test. It’s exceptionally short with a number of driveable par 4s and not a huge amount of trouble. But, looking at the card: The par is 69 and sss off the whites is 66 (it’s 64 off the yellows!) If I were to play to a handicap of one round there I’d have to be shooting two or three under par in every Medal. It doesn’t matter how easy a course is, to consistently break par by that amount is a tough ask and you’d have to hole a lot of putts. Personally, I’d prefer to try and keep a low handicap at Murcar.