Venue: Portlethen

Date: 28 November

Weather: Rain ? again

Greens: Summer

Mats: No

Preferred Lies: Yes

Last night as the rain pounded against my kitchen window I wondered just when this prolonged spell of miserable weather would come to an end. This morning as it turns out. It looks lovely out there, clear blue sky and not a breath of wind. Why couldn?t it have been like this yesterday?

Owing to the shortening days a two-tee start was trialled at Portlethen. It meant the whole field of 92 made it round before dark. Unfortunately, however, it did nothing to improve the speed of play. Some people were taking 4hrs 30mins to finish and a few walked off because the pace was so turgid. I can?t understand why it takes some competitors so long to play a game of golf, particularly given the winter conditions.

Anyway, Stu and I did get round and we felt rather pleased with our rounds of 71 and 74 as it was absolutely pouring with rain for the whole of our back nine. Much like last week, however, some had dealt with the weather even better than us and the winning score was 68. I could have improved my total had it not been for some serious incompetence around the green.

Why is chipping so difficult? It?s just a small version of a full shot after all. I keep telling myself this yet I continue to struggle from 40 yards in. In fact I?d rather face a three iron from 220 yards off a tight lie than a ten yard pitch. Yesterday?s conditions were about as bad as it gets for those of a delicate chipping disposition. The wet muddy ground caused me to produce both a duff and a thin from close range. Admittedly I got the short shots right most of the time but I should be able to do it 100% of the time. I occasionally look to Stewart for guidance but he seems to think my technique appears sound. Unfortunately the problem is not in my arms, it?s in the small cabbage rattling about in my skull.

Last night Jessie and I watched 300 on Sky Movies: a great and gory romp with blood, betrayal and beheadings. I love those hero movies where one man and his small band of followers fight against all the odds to defend something dear to them: Gladiator and Braveheart are other good examples. I think it would be nice if someone were to make a similar film titled: Alliance.

A group of 112 brave golfing warriors are forced to leave their wives and families to go and defend their golfing honour. They forge out into the bitter weather not knowing what sort of course conditions they?ll face and what score they might expect to return. Some will not return a score at all.

All will start out with hope as they somehow get through the first couple of holes unscathed, but then gradually the weaker members of the 112 begin to fall as triple bogeys and shanked wedges start to take their toll. Some sacrifice themselves (NR?ing rather than going back to the tee) to aid their comrades (playing partners.)

Focus shifts to a single group where one member is struggling badly. As he blocks another ball into the gorse he cries out in agony and threatens to NR. His stronger playing partner (the film?s hero) then gives the key oration of the film. ?Continue playing and you may not break 100, NR and you’ll never know. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell this course that it may take your pride, but it?ll never take your freedom to hit a provisional ball.?