Last week I bumped into Ron Menzies, secretary for the prestigious North East Winter Alliance. Ron confirmed the first Alliance of the season will take place at Braemar on September 12. I?ve informed Stewart, Jim, Derek and my dad and preparations are beginning in earnest.

Jim and Derek are continuing to play in every senior Open held within a 200 mile radius of Banchory. My old man has dusted off his winter putter and Stewart is poring over the Galvin Green catalogue in an attempt to find the perfect Alliance outfit.

I?ve got a strict regime worked out: 25 swings outside the back door at 7AM every morning wearing just my pyjamas to get used to playing in cold conditions again; practicing my putting stroke in the shower in order to replicate likely levels of precipitation; standing for extended periods beside the freezer counter at the Co-Op to reproduce the experience of waiting on the 15th tee at Buckpool in mid January. I?m thinking of going down to the village football pitch and cutting a small hole in one of the penalty areas to try and imitate winter greens.

One thing that will hamper my Alliance money list aspirations this season is my new handicap. On Saturday I shot my best ever Medal round ? a gross 64 – and have been cut to 1.1. It was one of those rounds where everything went right. Even my bad shots turned out fine. I missed a putt on the 18th green to equal the course record. I wont harp on about it any longer. Suffice to say I?ve been feeling pretty chuffed for the last couple of days.

Playing off one though means I?m really only going to be able to compete for the scratch prizes through the Alliance. That means I?ll have to beat some of the district?s top amateurs plus big Stu and the other professionals playing. I think I might actually have to fork out for my Pro V1s from now on, as I can?t see too many vouchers coming my way.

Another reason why Saturday?s good round was foolish is an imminent trip to Royal North Devon. Most of the Golf Monthly team is heading South West to compete in a competition there this Friday. Some are staying on for the 36-hole Kashmir Cup on Saturday. No doubt there?ll be a myriad of silly bets on the line and I?ll now be giving away a ludicrous amount of shots. I?m used to handing money over to Jezz, it?s always prudent to lose a few quid to your boss (Mike), I really hate losing to Tappers and I?ve never taken on Paul and Luke in any big money events.

I?ll let you know how we all get on and how empty my wallet is next week.