For the next issue of the magazine I’ve written a piece on why I can’t play golf in shorts. For me it’s an un-natural and awkward thing to do. Last week in Spain, my conviction was tested to the limit.
I travelled to PGA Catalunya near Girona to play in the 10th anniversary of the Cornish Masters. A tournament organised by GM Editor Mike Harris, I’ve been lucky enough to receive an invite to the last five competitions and have written about my experiences in the last couple of events for this blog.
As last year’s winner, I was required to source a “brown jacket” to be presented to the victor of this year’s tournament. I found the perfect specimen in a local charity shop – a rather small and very Scottish, heavy tweed number – ideal for Spanish summer wear.
As I was travelling from Prestwick (Pure Dead Brilliant?) and the rest of the boys were making their way from Stansted, I arrived in Spain ahead of the field. My first reaction on leaving the plane was, “Thank god I’m off that horrific Ryanair flight.” My second was, “Yes, it is quite hot.”
After checking in to the air-conditioned hotel I’d cooled down again and had forgotten about the sauna-like conditions outside. I donned my golf gear and headed out to the practice range full of optimism.
I’d been hitting balls for approximately 14 minutes when I started to feel a little strange, after 19 I was feeling pretty sick. It dawned on me that all I’d had to drink that day was two cups of strong coffee and I was now pounding balls with the sun beating down on my head in 33 degrees of heat. I had to go back to my hotel room for a lie down.
I play almost all of my golf in northern Scotland and I play all year round. If you were to take a mean temperature for all the rounds I’ve played over the last year, I’d estimate a result somewhere around the six or seven degree mark. So, 25 degrees hotter than that was a bit of a shock to the system.
Add to that dramatic change in conditions, the fact I was still stubbornly refusing to wear shorts and, even more stubbornly refusing to take a buggy, and the four round contest was turned into more of an endurance test than a golf competition. At one point during the third round one of the other hardy souls who’d elected to carry their bag turned to me and said, “It’s like competing in the Marathon des Sables.” Round two was played in the warmest weather of the trip and I left the course looking like Andy Roddick after a gruelling five setter against Rafa Nadal.
Needless to say, I didn’t defend my title but I did have a fantastic time and I think I did win the award for the sweatiest pants. I have to admit my thick cotton trousers were not the ideal choice for the event.