Week 13: Peterhead
Date: 17 January
Weather: Cold with relatively strong winds, no precipitation
Preferred Lies: Yes
I was shocked to learn on Tuesday that Peterhead, the venue for this week?s Alliance, is a potential terrorist target. Police armed with MP7 carbines have been stationed on a round-the-clock patrol at the St Fergus gas terminal. Although no specific threats have been made, the increased security is intended to protect critical national infrastructures. Frankly I?m happy the government is taking seriously any risk to sites bearing my good name.
Stewart and I felt greatly buoyed by the thought of the increased police presence. The risk of one of us being picked off by an Al-Qaeda sniper while settling over a testing putt at the 8th was greatly lessened. It?s been a constant worry up until now.
Peterhead GC is one of the hardest to find on the Alliance circuit. The only signage appears at the very last turning when you can already see the course. Unless you?ve got Sat Nav or an internal compass you could be lost in the maze of surrounding housing estates for days. Chris, our partner, had to resort to stopping at a local Spar for directions. He asked the two boys in the shop if he was headed the right way. One said yes, the other said no.
Anyway, we did all make it and at 11.35 were ready to do battle. After the Arctic rigours of Craibstone I was prepared to tackle anything. I was armed with yet another defence against the winter weather ? long johns. You may mock, Stewart certainly did, but I was very glad of this bonus layer. I actually had a record four layers on my bottom half: pants, LJs, trousers and waterproofs. I felt the symmetry was good as I also had four layers on my top half.
Navigation continued to be difficult out on the course. Peterhead has changed the ordering of its holes but neither our card nor the strokesaver reflected the alterations. From about the 7th onwards we were never totally sure which hole we were playing, how long it was or where the bunkers were.
Whether it was the long johns, the lack of course awareness or the heightened security I don?t really know, but something must have been different as I produced my best round of the season. A 71 (+1) that was good enough to win handicap section one. I was even 4th in the scratch, just four behind the winner Ryan Fitzpatrick (assitant pro at Inchmarlo GC.) He was playing in front of us and I can confirm his 67 could have been even better but for a few missed putts. I could have been one better if I hadn?t missed a putt about the length of a guinea pig on the 7th. Stewart managed a creditable 73 but it meant I also won the fiver for the second week in a row. I?m going to have to inform my accountant about this potentially lucrative new revenue stream.
Dad was absent this week, and for the next five or six, because he?s been in hospital for a hernia operation. While out of action he?s intending to read every book on golf he can get his hands on, watch countless re-runs of Ryder Cups and every bit of coverage that Sky still has. No doubt he?ll come out of this convalescence a stronger player all round. The bookies are already shortening his odds for the 2007 Christmas Quaich.