I?m basking today in the reflected glory of Stewart’s golfing prowess. He finished the Scottish Alliance Championship in fifth place on a three round total of three over par. It was an exceptionally good performance over two difficult courses (Monifieth and Arbroath) in some testing conditions. The fact three of the four who finished ahead of the big man are full time golfers shows how well he played. He should pick up a handsome cheque in addition to the three fivers he took off me. As Stu’s regular whipping boy I can surely take some of the credit for the result. Beating me on a regular basis must be great for his confidence.

I ran him relatively close this time though. Well, when I say relatively close I mean like Earth is relatively close to Pluto or Phil Mickelson is relatively close to overtaking Tiger Woods as World Number One. I finished the three days on an abysmal +27, a full 30 shots behind the winner. Now I know how Stefan Langer felt.

The bulk of my bogeys, doubles and triples were racked up during a dismal second round display at Arbroath. I did something there I?m normally good at avoiding: I completely capitulated. After taking five to get down from the edge of the eighth green I gave up. Through the back nine I missed two footer after two footer, found fairway bunkers at will and duffed chips for fun. Looking back it was almost as if I was trying to record a huge total. I will strike the day from my golfing memory; not only because of my terrible score but also because of the ludicrous amount of time it took to compile it.

Slow play is one of golf?s most contentious issues and a heavily flogged hobbyhorse of many golf writers. I try not to harp on about it too much and I apologise in advance for the following rant.

Over the first two rounds of the Alliance Championship the needle on the speed of play-o-meter was flickering somewhere between static and painstaking. When my score reached double figures over par in the second round and I noticed we?d taken over three hours to play 12 holes I almost lost the will to live. I was seriously considering lying down in the nearest bunker, closing my eyes and drifting peacefully away.

It seems everyone complains of slow play but in a large field it?s almost impossible to identify the culprits. Someone is responsible for holding things up though and they must know who they are. Here?s a little advice to those secretly sluggish competitors:

– You are not Tiger Woods. If your pre-shot routine is as long as that of a top pro and you do it 85 times a round you are going to take too long.
– If you?ve hit your ball into a spot where a team of police sniffer dogs would struggle to find it, hit a provisional.
– If you?ve been looking for a ball in the cabbage for five minutes, your searching time is up. Move on.
– You cannot reach the green at a par five from 240 yards into the wind.
– Do not mark your card on the green.
– Do not leave your trolley on the wrong side of the green.
– Finally, those two long thin things at the bottom of your body, they?re called legs. If you move these forwards alternately this is called walking. If you do this at a reasonable speed you will reach your ball, and complete your round, more quickly.

Right, that should do it. When we return to the regular North East Alliance circuit next week I?ll be expecting to get round in less than three hours.