Fergus Bisset: Erratic form

Consistency is a watchword for all elite golfers. Fergus watched the word carefully as it disappeared out of the window at considerable speed.

Top amateur golfers are unerringly consistent. Someone who plays off scratch or better will rarely shoot an embarrassing score. They may have a poor day and finish four or five over but they're just not capable of something really horrendous. I, however, am very capable of returning horrendous scores at the moment. The Journal Cup last Sunday confirmed my inconsistency this season.

The competition is a district event each club enters a team of three to play 36 holes with all six gross scores counting. The lowest total wins. This year the tournament was held at Kemnay, it's a great course: the epitome of a hidden gem. It may not be long, but it's an excellent layout with an interesting variety of holes in simply fantastic condition (particularly the greens.) In fact, the putting surfaces were so good that I had trouble getting to grips with them. As I'm used to greens that could, at best, be described as poor, travelling to courses with well maintained putting surfaces always takes a bit of getting used to.

At Kemnay it took me about 16 holes of the first round to realise that you could stroke the putts and let them roll out to the cup rather than having to belt the ball and cross your fingers. Unfortunately the realisation came too late to salvage my first round score. I finished on a fairly embarrassing and pretty horrendous 81: +10.

Despite this, at lunch, I was confident of producing something better in round two. Thankfully, I managed it. I came out a totally different golfer and fired a three under par 68, it would have been one better had I not missed a three footer on the last green. It was the joint lowest score of the day and a ludicrous 13 shots better than my morning effort. I just can't fathom how my form can be so changeable.

I have to say that following my afternoon performance on Sunday I really thought I'd turned the corner I know, I've said that before this season, but this time I really did. Well, it turns out I haven't. I'm still travelling at high speed down the Crap Golf Expressway.

In the midweek medal yesterday (back on rock hard, slow and bumpy greens) I returned to the usual rubbish. I finished with a dismal 77. After a couple of glorious days feeling optimistic and happy, I've rejoined the back of the queue of lost souls waiting patiently to throw themselves into the pit of despair.

In the clubhouse yesterday we were discussing the irritating habit some golfers have of speaking in clichés. You know the chap: He hits a putt that sits in the jaws of the cup and says, Never up, never in. You thin one from the tee that chases off down the fairway at ankle height: It's a worker. He jokes. You putt out for a double bogey five, It's better than a six. He helpfully points out. By the end of the round you're ready to wrap your putter around his neck.

My pet-hate is when you've played an approach putt up to 18 inches or so and have told your partner you'll just carry on. As you're about to address the supposed tap-in he says, Take your time. Aaaaarrgghh. He might as well say. I really think you should mark that, there's a good chance you might miss it.

Take your time, is a carefully thought out statement. It makes the speaker appear considerate but he's actually taking the opportunity to plant a very large seed of doubt in your mind. Take my time, you think. I was going to just bang this in but maybe I should mark it. No, just concentrate on the centre of the hole and put it in. Deep breath, putter back, putter through . Oh shit.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?