I climbed the grandstand behind the 13th green to take a birds eye view of Golf Monthly?s playing professional David Howell whose distinctive tall frame was limbering up the par 4 12th in the distance.

High above the fairways the wind bites and the stand creaks and sways like an ancient galleon. The crowd huddles together like a flock of damp sheep.

Stuck out on limb you need to improvise to keep warm. The woman opposite had lined her shoes and seat with plastic bags. The seats have the nasty habit of dribbling water down your leg when you flip them down.

The professional spectators with their folding seats and radios dip into their rucksacks for thermos flasks and Kit Kats. They get envious looks from their frozen neighbours as they pour streaming coffee into plastic cups. The guy in front has a pair of binoculars and provides running commentary on the Par 4 12th fairway in the distance much to the irritation of the marshal who keep hushing him up.

Suddenly all is quiet as Howell tees off and the crowd roars as the ball lands a few feet from the hole. After sinking it for birdie there?s a sense that Howell, with a following of approximately three people, may be the next big thing. A mass exodus ensues and the stand shifts nervously as the newfound fans clamber to follow.

The chase is on. On the 14th Howell strikes a wonderful straight drive for a birdie. Playing partner KJ Choi strays horribly off line. Howell screams ?fore left? as the ball swerves towards the stand. Choi pales. Howell eats a banana. For the next couple of holes it looks as though he may finish on -1 with his game considerably better then the front nine of 37.

The crowds chases the ball down the fairways then there?s a scrabble to get the best vantage points on top of the hill, avoiding the cables that threaten to trip everyone up..

On the huge 248 yard par 3 16th a seven wood is plucked from the bag to smashed the ball right into the bunker. The crowd sighs. Howell mutters under his breath to his caddie but is the image of serenity when a closer inspection reveals a hideous lie up against the face of the bunker. Calm and collected Howell smacks it out to the fringe of the green. The crowd coo but then loose interest as the alluring scent of fish and chips, burgers and hotdogs wafts over from the tented village behind. A string of fours bring his back nine total to a respectable 35 and a total of 72 to place him at +1.