More than a game: Turning a corner?

Fergus has been struggling with his game in 2008 but a good round this week has given him a reason to believe.

Over a third of the way through 2008, it's been a pretty poor season for me so far. My usually reliable long game has been rather less than reliable, the issues I have with my short game reached a nadir some time in April and my putting has continued to disappoint. My handicap has climbed from 1.1 to 1.5 and I haven't come close to the top of the leaderboard in any Medal.

It's amazing the impact golf has on my general health and wellbeing. I've been feeling pretty ill for most of the year and I can only put it down to bad golf. My body is clearly showing its displeasure at my lame efforts on the links. I'm sure it's nothing to do with having an 18 month old who comes back from toddler group every week with a new cough or cold.

Having played another poor round I wake the next morning feeling tired and unwilling to start the day. I can remember all too well the exuberance and zeal with which I leapt out of bed every morning last year as my handicap was tumbling. I've definitely been more crotchety than usual in 2008. Even I'm irritated by my bad temper so I hate to think what it must be like for everyone else.

So it's with great optimism that I declare a corner may have been turned this week. At Aboyne GC (in fabulous condition by the way) this Tuesday I played better than I have for about six months. I struck the ball brilliantly from the tee, fired in some excellent mid-iron shots and even managed to get up and down a couple of times. My score wasn't outstanding but that was merely because my putter is still on the chilly side of icy.

Since Tuesday I've been feeling unrealistic levels of hope and anticipation. I haven't picked up a club since then and wont now until Saturday when I'm having a game at Nairn Dunbar. But, in my head, I'm now a very good golfer. I can see no potential obstacles and I'll probably go out this weekend and score under par.

It's incredible isn't it? Six months of playing like a dog, I've had maybe 50 bad rounds. I've been suffering mild levels of depression and, at times, have struggled to see light at the end of the tunnel. Then, one round when I hit the ball half-decently is enough to make me believe I'm a re-incarnation of Bobby Jones. I must be really dim.

Perhaps. But I'm going to make the absolute most of every moment between now and 11.48 on Saturday. For the next 49 hours I can continue to live in a blissful bubble where I'm a golfing Demigod and could, if I practice hard enough, play off plus figures.

The European Tour spends the next three weeks in Great Britain and Ireland, kicking off today with the Irish Open. I don't know why, but professional golf always seems more exciting when it's played in our fair isles. I'm far more eager to watch Europe's best knocking it round Adare Manor or Wentworth than some industrial estate in Asia or a landfill site somewhere in Iberia.

Coverage starts today at 10am and I'll be interested to see if Padraig can defend his title or if another Irish player can step up to continue the amazing run of results they've enjoyed recently. If only the Scots could get on a similar roll Come on Monty! I don't want to put any pressure on you and I know you would never put pressure on yourself, but you've really got to win two out of the next three.

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?