Yup. I’m flagging up the winter conditions early on so as to have somewhere to lay the blame for my poor golf this afternoon. The sun was shining from a clear blue sky when I stepped on the first tee at Chilworth with my friend and former teaching colleague Simon. Recent rains had left the fairways damp and the greens pretty sodden, and the frost of the previous night lingered in some corners of the course. But lack of much in the way of a breeze made things actually rather pleasant, so there is in all truth little excuse for some of the scraping the golfing barrel that went on out there at times.
The initial 5 wood off the first tee was pretty much ok, but some inexplicable duffering in the tangled rough that I subsequently found cost several shots, and the consequence was double figures and Simon one up. I took the next hole, the long par 3 over the water, and so stood on the third tee surveying the open fairway with the game all square. Alas, some abysmal putting over the next few holes, with Scotty Cameron requiring a minimum of 3 attempts on any green, saw Simon 4 up by the 7th. I sneaked a par on the 8th to reduce his lead by one, and we both had bogeys on the par 5 9th, so ensuring he was 3 up at the turn.
My winning the short 10th and Simon the longer 11th kept things that way, then a 9 iron into the glaring sun which felt all wrong found the 12th green after all and saw his lead come back to two. It stayed that way for a couple of holes, then on the dogleg 15th (which I had just foolishly announced to be my favourite hole) I suddenly and alarmingly lost the ability to hit the ball other than at a 60 to 90 degree angle from its intended direction. Cue another ridiculous number on the scorecard and the prospect of 3 holes required simply to draw. Joint bogeys on the tricky par 3 16th, however, secured the win for Simon by 3 & 2. Well deserved, as he did play consistently well throughout the round.
A regulation par on the 17th dragged me some way out of the depths of despair, but a missed sitter for another par on the 18th saw me slide back down again. I exaggerate, of course. It was a beautiful afternoon with much to enjoy, including the company. And, in any case, I blame the conditions.