Looking out of my office window this morning at a (still) snow smothered garden it’s hard to believe I played golf yesterday. Maybe I dreamt it or had some extended snow-induced hallucination. No. A quick check on the web confirms I did indeed participate, and post a score, in the first North East Alliance meeting of the year at Peterhead.

In Banchory Golf Club’s ice-encrusted car park yesterday morning and on the drive north through rainy squalls past snowy fields, there were a number of questions asked about the sanity of our mission. But desperate times called for desperate measures. If there was any chance of getting a game we simply had to take it.

Dad and Jim employ a special meteorological method for assessing potential conditions while driving to golf tournaments – “the black bag” test.  It’s quite simple – you keep an eye out for black bin bags snagged on barbed wire fences and, depending on how horizontally the gusts are blowing them, you can work out if it’s a two, three or more club wind. Yesterday, all the bin bags we saw were perpendicular to the ground so we had to move up a level on the Bisset/Murray refuse scale – “the wheelie bin test.” Empty wheelie bins had been blown over and totally full ones seemed to be standing strong so we decided it was roughly a half wheelie bin wind.

What can be said for certain is – it was bloody windy, extremely cold and occasionally damp at Peterhead. These were not the ideal conditions in which to make a return to competitive golf after a full month without swinging a club. When I took two to get out of the greenside bunker at the first en-route to a double bogey, my apprehension appeared justified. I didn’t really mind though, it was just great to see grass again.

I struggled on the downwind front nine, I couldn’t make a decent contact with my iron shots and, if it’s possible, my short game had become even more fragile over our wintry sabbatical.  So, I was dreading turning for home and playing the back nine straight into the teeth of Hurricane Matilda. Somehow though, things improved when the wind was in our faces. Perhaps the gusts were re-directing my errant swing onto a more effective plane or maybe my technique of repeating the mantra “when it’s breezy, swing it easy,” paid off. Whatever it was, I was pretty delighted to finish with a 77 – it doesn’t sound too good but in that weather it wasn’t bad at all and was good enough for fifth gross.

When we left, the best score in was 75 and that remained the case until young Kevin Duncan from Ellon produced an incredible 69 – six shots better than the field. Terrible weather like we faced yesterday will destroy the round of anyone who’s not quite firing on all cylinders but, as Kevin proved, if you’re on top of your game the conditions can be overcome.

Unfortunately, unless I drive back to the coast, there’s little chance of getting another game until next week’s Alliance meeting at Montrose. I’m hoping for freak weather producing swirling gusts that turn straight into my face on every tee.