More than a game

Golf Monthly's contributing editor Fergus Bisset is on a mission to lower his handicap and he'll be regularly updating us on his ups and downs in his new blog. Here he explains his winter golfing philosophy.

Fergus Bisset

The rain is coming at me horizontally as I make my way to the temporary tee perched on a square of mud some 220 yards short of the winter green. My hand is so numb I can?t get it into my pocket to pull out a tee. I finally manage then look up to consider the shot. Well, the wind?s blowing at about 57 miles per hour into and off the left, the ground is still partly frozen so the ball may or may not kick on as if it?s struck concrete, add to this the fact I?ve got so many layers on that I?ll only manage a straight armed chop and it all seems rather tricky. Opting for driver I make a decent prod at it. The ball carries at least 180 yards before coming down in a patch or rough that has defrosted and plugs. Yes, golf through the winter is tough.

Despite this I play during the colder months in all weathers, on all surfaces. I just can?t hang my clubs up. Every Wednesday between late September and mid March I compete in a competition called the Alliance. It?s basically a tour for professionals, the retired, the self-employed and the unemployed. I fit loosely into the penultimate category. About 100 competitors visit a different course around the region (North East Scotland) each week and stump up the princely sum of £12 to compete for a top scratch prize of £100. Amateurs receive their winnings in vouchers, pros in cold hard cash.

I travel with my two playing partners Stewart Davidson and Paul Cormack. Stewart is the assistant pro at my local club (Banchory) ? an excellent darts player, he?s also pretty handy on the golf course. He?s already recorded a few second place finishes in the 2006-2007 season and holds top spot on our private money list with Paul, who?s a very good player, second. He?s recently turned pro off a +2 handicap and had a stab at the first qualifying stage for the European Tour. Although he shot -4 for four rounds it wasn?t quite good enough so he?s dedicating his attentions to the prestigious Alliance for another winter. I play off three and rarely feature.

In this blog I?m going to keep you up to date with my progress. Who?s winning the money, what hazards I?ve managed to visit and which characters we?ve met. I hope you?ll join in and share some of your stories of winter golf. Click on the links below for my blog entries...

November 22: A great discovery November 17: Going cold turkeyNovember 9: A series of unfortunate eventsNovember 1: The weather turnsOctober 25: A costly exerciseOctober 18: A gritty performanceOctober 4: To pastures newSeptember 20: Arboreal adventuresSeptember 13: High hopes

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?