More than a game: A hard fight

The sun is shining and the weather is sweet. The playing conditions are surely perfect, but golfers are a fickle breed.

Competition: Spring Meeting

Date: April 14

Course Conditions: Thirsty

Weather Conditions: Lovely and warm, sunny and still

When it?s raining golfers complain of sodden fairways and drenched equipment. When it?s windy we bemoan how difficult it is to keep the ball straight. When it?s cold you?ll hear, ?The ball is just going nowhere today.? And, ?I can hardly feel my fingers.? What a bunch. Will we never be satisfied? Well, the weather in Aberdeenshire over the last two weeks has been unbelievable: Clear blue skies and temperatures in the twenties. Surely these are the conditions we?re after. Nope.

The principal issue is the ground has become rock hard. The fairways resemble the yellow brick road and it?d be easier trying to get the ball to check up on the M25 than the greens. If your approach pitches on the putting surface it bounces about 12 feet in the air and kicks on through, invariably into a bunker or bush. The greens themselves are abnormally quick yet their pace strangely variable. All in all, a dry course is not particularly easy.

Not only did I have to contend with the arid conditions for Saturday?s Spring Meeting but I?ve also developed a flaw in my swing. I?ve traditionally hit a draw with every club from driver to pitching wedge. I can still get my irons to move a little right to left, but with my driver I?m producing a fairly consistent and aggressive slice. I simply cannot work out where it?s coming from or how to cure it. I?ve tried moving the ball forward in my stance, squaring my shoulders, taking the club back closed, swinging flatter, staying lower through impact, turning my hands through the ball, teeing it higher, teeing it lower, staying behind it, moving into it? I?ve tried many things but the spectre of the slice remains.

Last week I played my round in a happy, serene and peaceful mood. My state of mind was definitely a contributing factor to the good score. My problem is I don?t know how to find that ?happy place.? This week I was in a less than cheery place, some might say ?angry place.? There was no reason for it, I was just cross.

So the round was a battle against the conditions, my slice and my temperament. Overall I think I won it. I managed to grit it out for a 71 ? a nett 68 that was bang on CSS so my HC remains 3.0. If it hadn?t been for a double bogey at the 12th it would have been a very good performance. I only hit slices on holes where there?s no trouble to the right. (On the holes where there is trouble to the right I hit two pulls, a snap-hook and one that miraculously went straight.) I admit my temper got the better of me on a couple of occasions resulting in some fairly flowery language. But, I avoided any equipment abuse and managed to remain determined throughout.

In hindsight I?m pleased. I wasn?t playing well and I was psychologically frail yet still handed in a respectable score. I?m thinking I must be improving if the bad rounds are not as bad as they were. I can say that at the moment. When I return a really bad score I?ll have to re-evaluate.

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?