At the end of last week the weather was making me feel rather down. As I woke on Friday to yet another day of lashing rain a small part of me began to question my rational stance on religion. ?Maybe God does exist,? I thought briefly. ?Perhaps this is the start of the apocalypse or another Noah-style flood.? The course at Banchory was closed again so I had two options: Begin construction of a Bisset family ark or dry out my Kasco rain glove and scrape the rust spots off my sand wedge.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago how much I hate it when golf courses are forced to close. Banchory should take a leaf out of Sunningdale Golf Club?s book: they never close (except when it?s pea soup fog.) Last Tuesday Mike (editor) and I were lucky enough to be invited down to play 36 holes around the New and then the Old.

Early in the second round a mighty thunderstorm struck. Lightning flashed all around and the rain began beating down as if it was being fired from a pressure hose. From the clubhouse we heard a loud blast on an air horn. Awhh, that must mean time to call it quits we thought. We looked at our playing partner Ian for guidance. ?That is the signal that Sunningdale no longer accepts liability for your safety.? He said. ?We can play on if you want.? Why not, the chances of being struck by lightning are about one in three million. Obviously the odds are shortened somewhat if you stand in the middle of a fairway waving a metal stick in the air, but what the hell.

Sunningdale is blessed with two superb courses. The New is a fantastic Harry Colt layout that, in my eyes at least, outshines its older brother. It?s a pure heathland track with an incredible variety of holes, wonderful vistas and simply amazing greens. This is a challenging layout, particularly from the back tees. But Mike and I agreed the test is fair. The Old, designed by Willie Park Jnr, has more of a parkland feel though the heather and pines of the heath are still in evidence. It?s less demanding than the New and provides thoroughly enjoyable golf from start to finish. The members tend to favour the Old if they?re heading out for a social game.

I must mention my caddy for the day. David is a fifty-something year old who commutes to Sunningdale each day from Brighton. Early in the first round jokes were flying around that he?s not the best at finding golf balls. After two rounds I can?t fathom where the reputation has come from. He located my ball in some incredible spots. I didn?t lose a single Titleist all day despite spraying it around like an un-manned hose. Even on the final hole when I tried one last valiant attempt to lose it in the jungle he found it under about three feet of vegetation. Thanks David.

The day before we visited Sunningdale they?d hosted Open International Final Qualifying and the club had performed a minor miracle to get the event finished. As Wimbledon endured yet another rain delayed day, Sunningdale managed to get 120 of the world?s best professionals around 36 holes despite a series of torrential downpours. The club?s greenkeeping staff plus a number of volunteers worked tirelessly to keep the course playable until the last man had putted out.

The scores in the qualifying event drove home to me the ability of the top touring pros. GM columnist Graeme McDowell led the field at -9 and Peter Baker was the last qualifier at -4. I was +4 after five holes on the New and things went downhill from there.