Fergus Bisset: Time for "The Masters"

Fergus is briefly concerned by the vagaries of time, but then he gets over it.


Time is passing horrendously quickly at the moment. We can't be almost halfway through 2011 can we? It seems I've only blinked a couple of times since celebrating Hogmanay.   Time is a strange thing - something we humans invented to give structure to our existence. My brother who's studying philosophy at university would be able to write a 5,000-word essay on whether time actually exists or not. But, like most philosophies it would probably end up being inconclusive.

I vaguely remember from my studies that Aristotle split time into, what has gone before and what will happen - neither of which exist. He then considered the present - it's an unquantifiable moment as anything fractionally before it is the past (doesn't exist) and anything fractionally after is the future (doesn't exist.) Therefore, time is basically a strip of nothing separating two things that don't exist. I probably shouldn't worry about it too much then.

Anyway, one good thing about the swift passage of this "so called" time is that it's already "time" for the most significant event on my golfing calendar. Yes, tomorrow sees the first round of the 2011 Cornish Masters.

This prestigious tournament witnesses an annual gathering of some of the most fragile and tormented minds in world golf for four-rounds of highly competitive Stableford golf.

In the eyes of the lucky few invited to compete in this paragon of championships, no prizes in our sport are more coveted than the beautiful "Silver Salver" or the revered "Brown Jacket," awarded to the tournament's winner.

The list of champions since the event's inception in 2000 is impressive (except if you don't know the participants;) Lister, Davies, Conder, Harris, Tappin, Bisset, Ford and Townsend - none are exactly household names (though loyal readers of GM will recognise a few,) but all have experienced the feeling of indescribable pride as they've lofted that, badly inscribed, piece of silver plate and received the applause of their fellow Masters "patrons."

This year, the competition will be decided over three wonderful courses in and around Southport, Merseyside. Round 1 will see us tackle the venue for this year's Amateur Championship, Hillside; Rounds 2 and 3 will be struggled through at the excellent Southport & Ainsdale before the tournament is won and lost in round 4 over West Lancs.

After 72 holes of decidedly mediocre golf played amidst an atmosphere of anguish, fear and general self-loathing, the 2011 Masters Champion will be decided. I can't wait.

After playing in the Riverston Cup last week at Banchory, I've found yet another reason to complain about the standard scratch system. The Riverston Cup is three rounds - A qualifier on a Saturday with the top-16 players going on to contest two rounds of strokeplay (the first round score doesn't count towards the final total.)

I qualified in the top-16 then posted a creditable gross 69 in round one of the competition proper - a nett 66 (three-under-par.) But the CSS was 67 so I was only cut by 0.1 and that seemed unfair as conditions were not particularly easy.

The problem was that the 16 players who made it through to the last two rounds were all clearly on reasonable form so, understandably, they posted decent scores and knocked the CSS down. As far as I'm aware the CSS is supposed to produce a reasonable movement of the SSS in relation to weather and course conditions. But, in this instance, the CSS merely reflected the current playing ability of a group of players rather than the competition conditions - not quite right. Any suggestions CONGU?

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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?