Over the festive period I had proof of just how much people in this country love their golf. It made me feel a good deal less isolated as I was reminded I’m, by no means, alone as a golfing obsessive.
On Hogmanay my family travelled to Nairn to celebrate New Year and my dad’s 60th birthday – it fell on January 4. As he’d set the itinerary for the trip it, unsurprisingly, included a fair bit of golf. Nairn is blessed to have two courses of superb quality – Nairn West and Nairn Dunbar. We were scheduled to play a round on each plus another on one or the other.
Unfortunately this ludicrous cold snap that’s been affecting the country since the middle of December even had an icy grip over the Moray Firth. The Gulf Stream generally means this stretch of coastline enjoys milder, finer, weather than most of the northeast. But, not even the powerful ocean current couldn’t prevent a white blanket being thrown across the region while we were visiting.
On the 1st we were supposed to play at Nairn West but, as the ground was completely frozen and some of the party had enjoyed themselves a little too much on Hogmanay, we decided to give it a rain/ice check.
On the 2nd Dad and I decided, despite the fact the hoar frost remained and we could see freezing fog looming ominously inland, we simply had to play golf (neither of us had played for over a week.) We wandered down to Nairn West to check the situation. They were playing to winter greens and the entire course was like concrete. No mind, we thought. We’ll give it a go. No we wouldn’t. The club was running a competition and there wasn’t a single free time before 1.30pm.
OK, we thought. Let’s head to Nairn Dunbar. The outlook from the car park there was similar – totally white, winter greens and a temperature of -3. “Come on,” I said. “We’ll at least get a swing and a walk.” Nope. There was a group of about 25 people gathered around the first tee. “Aye, there’s a wee sweeper going on.” Said one of the members. “We must be mad.”
Not mad, I thought. Just refreshingly keen.
At this stage, most people would have taken the hint and decided golf simply wasn’t on the cards. But, that’s not really my, or dad’s, style. We headed back to Nairn West to see if their par-3, nine hole course was open. It was, so we forked out £15 each for a game. £15! Quite a lot for a frozen par-3 course, I thought. Then I considered further and reckoned I’d probably still have paid if the price had been double.
To our astonishment, even the nine-holer was busy – there was a small queue at the first tee! After chapping around three or four holes the freezing fog rolled in and we were unable to see more than about 50 yards in front of us. We carried on, as did everybody else.
We couldn’t see, our hands were like blocks of ice and the ground was rock hard, yet each of the hardy souls we met out there seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. It was a fantastic advertisement for our great game.