Fergus Bisset: My golfing soul

Fergus has watched about 400 films over the past couple of months and one of them has led him to consider the state of his (golfing) soul.

Through the evenings of our winter hibernation, Jessie (wife) and I exhausted most topics of sensible conversation around New Year before moving on to systematically watch our entire DVD collection by mid January. Thank heavens then for Sky Movies.

Unfortunately we've now seen the majority of reasonable films on the regular movie channels so we're increasingly being forced to resort to the, pay-per-view, "Box Office." It might cost me a few quid, but I reckon in another week's time we'll have seen everything on that and I'll finally be allowed to turn to the PGA Tour golf.

Having said this, I've enjoyed our 2009/10 snowy "filmathon" and we've seen some excellent flicks. My top five have been: Defiance - Daniel Craig leads a group of Jewish partisans who hide out in the Polish woods during the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe; Inglorious Basterds - More Nazi bashing, this time from Quentin Tarantino. It's an entertaining and bloodthirsty piece of fiction - fiction being the operative word. I think a few critics forgot it's just a story and not a serious historical study of World War II; Goodbye Lenin - Wonderful German comedy about a boy whose staunchly socialist mother has a heart attack, falls into a coma and misses the fall of the Berlin Wall. When she wakes he tries to conceal the unification as the doctors think the shock could kill her; Withnail & I - Hadn't seen it for a while and had forgotten how great it is... "We've gone on holiday by mistake"; Dorian Gray - Based on the Oscar Wilde novel, it's a terrifying look at the pitfalls of hedonism. A young aristocrat (Dorian Gray) barters his soul in exchange for eternal youth. Unfortunately Dorian's soul sticks around in the shape of a portrait he's commissioned and the figure on the canvas decays as bodily Dorian indulges his naughty side. After 20 years of pleasuring the flesh, the picture is not a pretty sight.

A Picture of Dorian Gray is disturbing because it pressures you to consider what the real you would look like if it was let loose. If you could extract it from your physical body and examine it, would you like what you see? Does the representation of you that has breakfast, goes to work and interacts with people accurately reflect the real person inside?

I'm clearly curious as to what the essence of me would look like, but I think unveiling it could be dangerous. I'll start then by examining one element of my inner-self before assessing if it's safe to progress - my golfing soul.

My golfing body is pretty reasonable. I'm quite tall and not overweight (though I've been doing my best to head in that direction during this hibernation). My swing appears competent and I can strike the ball a reasonable distance. At first glance my short game and putting would look acceptable to an untrained eye. I'm well presented on the links and, am led to believe, I project an air of confidence as I stroll round the course.

But beneath this veneer, this physical smokescreen, lies a troubled wretch. My inner-golfer is a strong yet clumsy oaf - he's able to bludgeon away without care or purpose but any attempt by him to touch or caress makes the skin crawl. He is prone to uncontrollable fits of rage triggered by the smallest mishap and, although he knows what he's trying to achieve, he has little idea of how he might do it.

OK, this has confirmed that any further examinations of my inner workings would be highly unwise.

Luckily my inner-golfer was kept at bay for this week's Alliance at Edzell. Around a shortened winter course, I managed an incredible five-under-par 64. I had one of those rounds where everything seemed to go in the hole - "A Bishop from Caddyshack day" as my dad would say.

To be honest, the whole game was something of a lottery. The ground was frozen and the winter greens were highly unpredictable. So my good score, although I did drive the ball well, must be put down largely to luck.

Walking off the 18th green I could hardly believe how the day had gone - putts bobbling across the ice and somehow staying on line, drives bouncing straight towards their target and pitches pulling up neatly by the pin.

Then, on the drive home I began to feel nervous as I thought of Dorian Gray. Had I, in some weakened moment, made a deal with the devil for my golfing soul in return for eternal fortune on the links. I'm certain I've thought it on numerous occasions....

I'm just looking across at a photograph by my desk of me teeing off at Kingsbarns. I'm sure my eyes weren't so bloodshot last time I glanced at it.

Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by 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 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?