Yesterday I, along with a couple of friends, walked the Lairig Ghru a route through the Cairngorms linking Deeside with Strathspey. From start to finish the hike measures 32km or 21 miles, it’s one of the longest one-day hill walks in Scotland. We started at Coylumbridge at 9.00am and finished at the Linn of Dee near Braemar at 4.00pm.
The route starts in the beautiful forests of Rothiemurchus before climbing along the side of the Alt Druidh burn towards the rock-strewn pass between Cairn Lochan and Sron na Lairige. Then on past the Pools of Dee, the Corrour Bothy and the Devil’s Point down to Glen Luibeg, Derry Lodge and eventually the Linn of Dee.
Having not done any proper exercise for quite some time I was worried I would struggle but, in fact, I blitzed my way through without any problem at all. I finished feeling that I could have gone on and have woken this morning suffering no ill affects. All I can deduce from this is that golf is very good at keeping you fit.
When you think about it, walking five or six miles every other day with a set of clubs on your back should be pretty good at keeping the engine ticking over. OK, you’re not going to be able to run the marathon without a little extra training but a long hike like this is no problem at all just four times round a course but with no shots to play and no clubs to carry.
Another reason I was slightly worried about our expedition was the fact it was scheduled the day between the first two rounds of Banchory’s Club Championship. I was expecting to be crippled for tonight’s second round.
My legs feel like they’re up to it, unfortunately my chances have been hampered by another, more direct, issue: my first round score. I actually played quite well on Wednesday night but my short game was, as ever, abysmal. I gave away at least five shots in my round of 73 through inept chipping and woeful putting. I’m six shots off the lead and will have to produce something pretty special tonight if I’m to get back anywhere near contention.
As readers of this blog will know, I’ve been playing poorly in recent weeks. With the Club Championship looming I decided to pay a visit to the driving range on Tuesday in a desperate attempt to find some sort of swing. I procured a bucket of 100 balls thinking by the time the last one was struck I’d have it figured out. I tried everything: swinging slower, the one-piece takeaway, increasing my shoulder turn, shortening my swing, closing my stance the list goes on. But, no matter what I tried I was still hitting the ball terribly. With only five balls left I realised I’d have to go back and get 50 more always a slightly humbling experience. You’re basically admitting to the pro-shop, Yes, I do have some serious issues.
But, after ten or so from the new bucket, the light bulb suddenly illuminated. Try keeping your head still. I thought. No, it can’t just be that. That’s far too simple. My inner monologue continued. But, I’m afraid it was that simple. After my mini-epiphany I struck the remaining balls competently (although I was quite knackered having hit 115 full shots.)
Anytime I begin to have problems with my swing I always eventually fix it by working harder to keep my bloody head still! I could save myself a good deal of time and stress if I just remember this fact. Right, it’s now on paper so there’ll be no excuse next time.
I should, I suppose, say something about my prediction for the US Open. For those of you who didn’t read my blog entry from last week, I confidently forecasted that Tiger Woods would not win. I was wrong. Well done Tiger: A simply incredible performance given the circumstances – he really is super-human.
It doesn’t reflect particularly well on the rest of the professional golfing world that a Tiger Woods with an injured knee and no match practice for two months is still too good for them. It must also be considered a little strange that the man who pushed him closest wasn’t Mickelson, Scott or Els but a 45-year-old journeyman who’s missed eight cuts on the PGA Tour this season.
The good news for the also-rans but sad news for golf fans is that Tiger’s out for the rest of the season because of the damage he did to his knee at Torrey Pines. So, everyone else will have a chance at Royal Birkdale – my money’s on Rocco Mediate.