Week 18: Newburgh
Date: February 28
Weather: wind (very strong)
Greens: summer
Mats: yes
Preferred Lies: yes

My first NR was in a junior medal aged about 11. I was already having a bad day, but on the 12th I fired my ball into a bank where it plugged. I hacked at it 13 times before finally giving in and picking it up. The second came last year; I?ve no excuses for that one. I think it?s important to try and return a score, no matter how bad it is. Apart from anything else it gives your friends something to laugh at. My 86 at Newburgh yesterday had them rolling in the aisles.

I?m conscious that golf requires a balanced and considered approach so I?ll attempt to give a two-sided account of yesterday?s game.

First, the pros:

– It didn?t rain. It did a little bit actually, right at the end of our round. Straws, frantic clutching?..

– The pre-round bacon roll was excellent. Well stacked perfectly cooked bacon in a delightfully soft, generously buttered, bap. Lovely.

– There?s a huge sand dune at the end of the course. I was impressed by it.

– I executed a very tidy overtaking manoeuvre to get past a lorry on the way home.

– I didn?t NR.

Now the cons:

– The wind was fierce, somewhere between gale forces five and seven I?d say. If at any point Stewart had accidentally let go of my score card it would have been whipped up into the air, caught a thermal and probably ended up somewhere in the Western Isles. Unfortunately he kept a tight hold.

– The round took slow to a new level. My baby daughter gained three ounces in weight and 3000 square miles of Antarctica melted during the course of our game.

– I incurred eight penalty shots, that?s two worse than last week. I was out of bounds at the 2nd then again (internally) at the 16th. I?m developing a real problem with internal OB. I can basically add two shots to my score every time it features. I also lost two balls in the gorse.

– My short game continues to disappoint. Would you believe it? That new chipping technique I mentioned last week doesn?t work.

– I didn?t make an eight. I recorded every other score between three and nine but irritatingly failed to complete the set.

– The strokesaver told me a big fat lie. The 13th is a short par 4 that, according to the strokesaver, is crossed by a ?ravine? filled with bushes. I hit a seven iron off the tee to stay short of it. Upon reaching the ?ravine? I was taken by how shallow it was and by the general lack of bushes. I made a double bogey in protest.

Stewart and I made an important decision on the way home: We?re going to do more thinking on the golf course. We both have a bad habit of bludgeoning it unthinkingly towards the target without considering the options. Our motto is, ?If in doubt, hit driver.? Not very sensible really. As from next week we?re going to take some time to play the correct shot with the correct club.