More than a game: A late entry

A dedicated blogger never fails to post on time. Fergus is a day late, just what is his excuse?

An email has literally flooded in asking where my blog for this week is. Well Dave in Clapham I can only apologise for the tardiness of my correspondence but I assure you there is good reason for my late posting.

En-route to my desk yesterday morning I slipped on a loose Titleist. Skidding feet first across the slate floor my left leg went straight between two of the bars on Flora?s playpen. Pressure of the bars on my lower thigh caused my knee to swell up immediately and I found myself trapped. Unfortunately Jessie was in Edinburgh and I couldn?t reach a phone. It wasn?t until the postman spotted me through the window this morning that the alarm was raised and an emergency joiner was summoned to release me. Only joking. I was, of course, playing golf.

I was lucky enough yesterday to receive an invite to the Scottish leg of regional qualifying for the Golf Club Secretary Open Championship. The event is in its 12th year and is going from strength to strength. The top four qualifiers go on to the final at The Berkshire next May. Scottish qualifying was at Alyth GC and I was playing with Christopher Spencer, the new secretary at North Berwick, and Eddie Comerford, secretary at Pitreavie Golf Club. We enjoyed a very pleasant round in rather chilly conditions and although none of us excelled there was the occasional moment to remind us we were single figure handicap golfers.

Alyth is a very attractive golf course set in the Perthshire countryside just a few miles from Blairgowrie. The layout is the work of two of golf?s most famous names: Old Tom Morris and James Braid. Sweeping over undulating ground between mature trees to perplexingly undulating greens it?s an excellent test of accuracy and skill. Given that Sunday had witnessed incredible rainstorms the course had held up well. There was still surface water on some of the lower lying fairways but the greens had drained completely. They?re notoriously fast and the deluge had done little to slow them up. Bob De Rose from Dunfermline clearly had no problem mastering the putting surfaces as he won the day with 37 points. Pretty good considering it was his first visit to the course.

As mentioned, Sunday was very wet indeed. It caused problems at the 36-hole Considine Trophy at Banchory. We completed one round and set out for the next in pouring rain. Eventually by the 12th hole the course had taken all it could and the greens became unplayable. The second round had to be abandoned. Back in the clubhouse there was lengthy debate as to what should be done. The two options were: 1 ? As one round had been completed the event should be reduced to 18 holes, or, 2 ? The second round should be rescheduled for a date some time in the future.

I had to try and keep quiet as I have a vested interest in option one. Having shot a 67 in the first round I was in the lead, reducing the event to 18 holes would clearly benefit me. However, I think I?d say that was the correct option even if I hadn?t scored well. This was a 36-hole, one-day competition. Conditions dictated that the second round could not be completed, just the luck of the draw on the day in my opinion. I?ve played in 36 hole Men?s Opens where the competition has been reduced to a single round because of the weather. I?ve never been asked to come back a week later to finish. We await the judge?s decision?.. reduced to one round, please make it reduced to one round.

I?ve one final golfing event to mention. Last Wednesday the season?s first Alliance took place at Braemar. The weather was decidedly un-Alliance like: warm with little wind and just the odd spot of rain. Conditions were perfect for scoring apart from one other natural factor ? the midgies. There were millions of them and they were hungry. I?m always thinking of new outfit combination to try and outfox the treacherous conditions the Alliance throws up, now I?ll have to add a new one to the list: a bee-keepers suit. Back in the clubhouse my dad was feeling slightly sick, he wondered if it was as a result of multiple midgie bites. I?m no doctor dad, but no.

For the record I scored a three over 68, six behind the winner?s 62 (I would have been one better had I not missed a putt the length of a fun size Mars bar on the 13th.) I did, however, win the season?s inaugural fiver challenge. I?m going for the clean sweep in the 07/08 season. What do you think of that big Stu?

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?