After a 27 hour journey back from the Asian Amateur Championship, I felt a little jaded and jetlagged at the prospect of yesterday’s Alliance at Turriff.
But, like any true Alliancer, I pushed through the pain barrier. When there’s any possibility of a game, no mountain, river, valley or wild horse can keep the hardy members of the North East Alliance from their Wednesday game.
I felt a little uncertain on the 1st tee at Turriff. Although it was only a week since I’d left for the Far East, it seemed as though I’d been away a month and, as a result, I was actually struggling to remember how to do golf.
I just tried to picture the smooth and rhythmical swings of the young amateurs I’d been watching in Japan and somehow smacked one down the middle of the narrow first fairway. “Hey, this might just be alright,” I thought. How wrong could I be?
Reality struck forcefully with a fatted pitch and a comfortable three-putt for an opening bogey. I followed a snap hook off the 2nd tee with a block, a thin and another three putt for a double bogey six. I made a par somehow on the 3rd but it was a false dawn as I climbed back on the bogey train at the 4th.
I thought things had reached a nadir on the 5th as I racked up a triple bogey seven that included another snap hook, a pair of fats and a four-putt. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
The true low point came at the par-5 6th. I hit a good drive that took an unkindly kick to the right and ended under the overhanging branches of a pine tree. I practised my swing and it seemed I’d be able to get a full shot at it. But, when I took the club back for real it got tangled in the branches. Totally off-balance I rushed my hands back towards the ball and missed it completely. An air-shot – The preserve of the complete novice and habitual hacker, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.
Instead I chipped out, knocked my fourth on the green and carded another bogey. Two more bogeys in a row after that and I was 10-over-par through seven holes. I can’t remember recording a worse stretch of numbers at any point in my adult life.
Then, something bizarre happened. The destructive and innately evil, Edward Hyde-esque, half of my golfing character retreated back into the dark from whence it had come and the respected and reasonable Dr Henry Jekyll returned. From here on let’s call these two halves of my split personality – Par Man and the Bogey Monster.
Par Man remained in control for the next nine holes which he completed with seven straight pars then back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th. Golf has never witnessed such contrasting spells of play within the same round – From the ridiculous to the sublime.
Par Man’s grip on proceedings seemed firm but with one loose shot from the par-3 17th tee, the Bogey Monster began to growl. After Par Man failed to get up-and-down, the beast was back. The wretch oversaw a three-putt on the final green to ensure I failed to break 80.
To be fair on Par Man, to play the last 11 holes in level par after completing the first seven in 10-over, was a pretty good effort. But, I’m just worried that I finished the game with the Bogey Monster back in control. Will he still have me in his clutches when I tee it up at Ballater next week?