Week 12: Craibstone
Date: January 10
Weather: just north of Baltic, strong winds, hail
Greens: summer (incredibly)
Mats: no (incredibly)
Preferred Lies: yes

I found inspiration from three separate sources in the lead up to the first Alliance event of 2007 at Craibstone yesterday:

1: Newly becoming a father and having total belief in the ?nappy factor?.
2: Shooting a 56 round Banchory?s winter course last Saturday. Although it was temporary greens and the par only 64, this was the most incredible game of my life and served to further enforce my trust in source 1. In the style of the Bishop from Caddyshack (minus the lightning strike) I holed five shots from off the green!
3: I was kindly sent Colin Montgomerie?s 2007 calendar. I?ve hung it up by my desk and whenever I need a boost I just look over and think, ?What would Monty do??

To say it was cold at Craibstone would be doing the weather a grave disservice. Warmer temperatures have been recorded on the surface of Mars. If we were in training for a polar expedition the conditions would have been suitable, they weren?t quite so appropriate for 18 holes of golf. Despite the fact I was wearing pretty much my entire wardrobe, I could only stay warm by running laps around each tee. I had to frequently think back to the November image of Monty celebrating a holed putt to keep my spirits up.

The omens for 2007 look good. For the first time in about three months I won the fiver at Craibstone. My 73 (+4) narrowly beat Stewart?s 74. Given the conditions I was pretty proud of the performance. It would have been even better but for an excruciating piece of bad luck at the 14th that led to a seven then, at the 17th, I was put off my approach shot when a ball landed right behind me during my swing. I collapsed and hit the ground about six inches behind the ball. I managed to move it about eight yards. You?ll note that neither of these mishaps were in any way my fault. That?s good psychology. Tiger never blames himself for a missed putt, there?s always another factor responsible. There are an almost inexhaustible number of reasons why I hit a bad shot or miss a putt. A gust of wind, a noisy seagull, a spike mark, mud on the ball, a shadow, a helicopter, a dog walker, the tee pointing in the wrong direction, a bunker that?s not on the course plan, an angry wasp, a shoe missing a spike, a slippy grip. The list is endless.

Feeling rather elated after leaving the 18th green I was brought back down to earth when I saw Ian Bratton, the pro at Newburgh GC, had scored an incredible 65. He must have one hell of a set of hand-warmers.