This week’s Alliance was scheduled for Murcar Links just north of Aberdeen. It’s one of the best tracks in the North East of Scotland. So, there was a good deal of excitement at the prospect amongst the Banchory Alliancers. That anticipation was heightened by the fact it snowed, yet again, on Monday night incapacitating our inland course. The coast, however, remained green.

I have to admit I was feeling pretty good about my chances as I went to bed on Tuesday, mainly because I’d had “one of those” visits to the driving range late in the afternoon. I experience it a few times each year – after striping long irons and powering drivers with a five yard draw, I leave the bay certain I’ve discovered the secret to my game and will, from that point on, never hit a loose shot again. That night I dreamed happy dreams about arrow straight 3-irons and holing endless putts.

Unfortunately, as I was getting out of bed on Wednesday morning, I heard Jessie (wife) shout, “Where’s my car?” It wasn’t outside the kitchen window where it should have been, the gates were open and footprints in the snow made it clear pretty quickly what had happened.

It was bad news but, as further revelations came from Jessie, the frustration was compounded – Doors of the car: open; Keys of the car: in the car; Her handbag: in the car; Her purse: in the handbag; Her house keys: on the key ring with her car keys…. Aaaarghhh.

We spent a couple of hours speaking with the police and explaining the situation to a bod at the insurance company who could barely stifle a chuckle as he said, “So, to confirm, the keys were actually in the car.” At this point I had become slightly less assured of a decent showing in the Alliance.

But, for any true Alliance warrior, no obstacle is too great if the competition is going ahead. I called my dad and he came to pick me up. We blasted through the snow towards the coast and, as we came to the outskirts of Aberdeen, the grass began to show through. As we pulled up in the Murcar car-park, there wasn’t a flake in sight and the sun was shining in a clear blue sky.

My spirits were lifted by the good weather, I couldn’t do anything more about the car at that point so I thought I might as well try and play some decent golf. My optimism was, however, very temporary as I looked over to the 18th to see it on a winter green.

It turns out there’d been a frost first thing in the morning so the greenkeepers had set out the winter course. According to an inside source, if the first starters had waited 45 minutes before they teed off we might have played the full track. But, they didn’t wait.

Murcar very rarely has to rely on its winter greens so, as a result, they’re not great. It was quite a disappointment – an incredible day without a breath of wind and a warm sun beating down on one of the best tracks in the area – but we weren’t playing it.

I tried to make the best of the situation, remembering Stuart’s old mantra – “It’s the same for everybody, just try to shoot the lowest score you can.” I was trying hard, even when I missed a putt the length of a hedgehog on the sixth. It was a testing nine incher I have to say, I had a divot on my line and had to attempt to skirt the edge of it to find the left lip of the cup.

In the end I knocked it round in level fours, which wasn’t a bad effort as I battled thoughts of the swines who’d pinched our car and cursed the fact we weren’t on the full course. I have no idea how the distractions affected my score. It’s quite possible they assisted me. My mind was too full to conjur up any thoughts of wild slices into the gorse or decelerated pitches.

My pal Scott from Banchory won again, he shot an excellent 65 to pick up his third Alliance victory of the winter – A great debut season.

The good news is the police have found our car and, apart from pinching everything that was in it, it seems ok. A minor miracle and a lesson learned – Off-course distractions needn’t hamper your chances of a good showing on the links… oh yes, and always keep your car locked.