This is the longest spell I’ve endured without golf since moving back to Scotland four and a half years ago. We’ve had snow lying on the ground since December 17th and there’s currently at least two feet smothering the countryside.
As we live up a steep dirt track, we’ve been pretty much confined to barracks since before the New Year. It’s been a huge test of mental fortitude to fight the onset of cabin fever and it remains to be seen how successful we’ve been. As we’ve had limited human contact for over a week, it may be that we’ve gone completely gaga but are still blissfully unaware of the fact. I think I’m writing coherently here but you may be reading things like – “Gooseberrys are a man’s best friend,” and “Goblins made my soup last night.”
Anyway, I’ll carry on trusting my sanity. I’ve actually become resigned to my fate – stranded and helpless in a sea of white – I’m now beyond panicking and feel it’s time to learn some lessons from the experience. I wonder if any of the issues I’ve faced can make me a better golfer in 2010?
– The low point for me during this ordeal came four mornings ago when I woke to find poor water pressure from the kitchen tap. I stuck my head out of the back door and could hear a hissing sound. I traced it to the front of the house where a stream of water was jetting 20 feet into the air – an outside tap had been blown off the top of its pipe. An hour of searching in a raging blizzard failed to locate the shut off point for the outside water (probably buried under the snow) so I was forced to tackle the problem with the water still gushing. I donned my Galvin Greens – the only time my golf kit has been used so far this decade – and headed into the breach.
After a little advice from a plumber friend of mine, I decided to try and bend the pipe in two to stem the flow – easier said than done as the pipe was screwed to my garage wall. It took 45 minutes to unscrew it and I was soaked to the skin and frozen by the time it was free. I bent it fairly easily and used duct tape to keep it that way.
Lesson learned: It’s still possible to complete difficult tasks in the most adverse conditions. Next time I’m facing a flop shot over a bunker from a muddy lie with a 40mph tail wind blowing rain down my neck, I’ll remember wrestling with that pipe and the shot will seem completely straightforward.
– We realised on Hogmanay that it was quite a while since we’d ordered or received any kerosene to power our boiler. I struggled out to the tank and dipped a stick in to see how much was left – not very much at all was the disturbing conclusion. We swiftly placed an order but were aware there was absolutely no chance of the oil tanker making it up the road to our house. We’ve spent the last week with the heating on its lowest setting and trying to avoid using hot water – we’re currently very cold and rather smelly.
Lesson learned: A lack of forward planning can lead to abject misery. When the 2010 golf season starts I’ll endeavour to be totally prepared for every round – to have a clear strategy in place and be in possession of the correct equipment to deal with all potential conditions.
– More than a week spent cooped up with a demanding three-year-old and a rather screamy four-month-old has provided a stern examination of my tolerance and patience. As a man who is not renowned for either character trait, I think I’ve fared remarkably well. I’ve only raised my voice a couple of times and I’ve kept to a strict routine of no alcohol before 5pm. It’s easy to see why the Scandinavians and Alaskans have problems with alcoholism – there’s just nothing else to do.
Lesson learned: If I can manage not to lose my temper for over a week despite facing considerable challenges, surely I can manage to keep my cool for four hours around a golf course. Next time a three-footer horseshoe’s out or a bad bounce sends my ball into a bunker I’ll remember these few weeks.
The good news is – we’ve managed to source some drums of kerosene and my dad is en-route now in his Land Rover on a mercy mission. The Dunkirk spirit is alive and well in Deeside.