Winter golf demands a philosophical approach. You must accept the conditions and play the course as you find it, no matter what. Even if you’re hitting to frozen winter greens over a sea of mud in 60mph winds and driving rain, you should have a single objective – to get the ball round in as few shots as possible.
Stewart and I decided before Ballater last week that this would be our mindset through the Alliance season. It worked for both of us there as he finished joint winner and I was joint fourth.
On the way to Edzell for this week’s meeting, we discussed our conviction to stay positive whatever the conditions. As with the rest of the country, we’ve been enduring an unseasonal snap of cold weather so it looked almost certain we’d be playing on winter greens at Edzell, if we were playing at all.
We headed towards the Cairn O’Mount prepared for shortened holes and uneven putting surfaces. However, as we crested the summit of the ancient mountain pass linking Deeside with Angus we were treated to a glorious view – the sun beaming down on green fields for as far as the eye could see.
We tried not to get ahead of ourselves, “It’s probably still frosty at the course, they’re bound to be on winters.” But, as we approached, there was still no sign of whiteness and on first sight of the course it was confirmed: summer greens.
Unfortunately this surprising development worked against Big Stu. He was mentally prepared to battle the elements over a frozen winter course. He’d even taken out a harder ball to try and counter the slow putting surfaces. Psychologically he was in trouble from the word go.
After finding fairway bunkers at the first and third and dropping to two over par, his mood was not good. I started with three pars and was feeling extremely buoyant. I tried to keep the big man’s spirits up but was fighting a losing battle.
I continued to feel positive about proceedings until the par-5 ninth when I four putted from eight feet for a double bogey seven. My antics around the cup included a Hale Irwinesque whiff from three inches. My mood swung all too quickly. I was now silent and Stewart was noticeably cheered.
I remained seriously unimpressed that I’d thrown away a good score for most of the back nine until I made a birdie at the 15th and realised I was only two over. I suddenly felt very happy about life again. I’m so superficial.
On the par 5 18th I experienced an incredible array of emotions: My drive was well struck over the corner of the dog-leg but I feared it was a little too far left and may have caught the fairway bunkers (apprehension), I then strolled round the corner and saw a ball on the edge of the fairway (elation), I then remembered it could well be Stewart’s (fear), approaching the bunker I saw my ball lying in the sand (despair), I played out well and left myself about 150 yards to the green (hope), my third was right on line but came up short (disappointment), I had a go at the putt and it looked good for a time (expectation), but it missed and went two feet past and I was left with a tester for par (nerves), thankfully it went in (relief) and I finished on two over.
It was good enough for fifth place and to win the fivers for the third week in a row. In this time of financial meltdown I’m faring rather well – in the last three weeks the FTSE has dropped by 1,500 points and many people are seriously out of pocket. I’m £15 up.