They say you're never more than 6-feet away from a rat which I seriously doubt. On a golf course though, you're probably never more than 6-feet from a lost golf ball. I'm only at the 3rd hole and I've lost two already. I only have four left in the bag so could do with finding a couple.
I remember speaking to a JCB operator at Sconser, the Isle of Skye Golf Club who was digging drainage ditches and he showed me the old golf balls he'd unearthed. He asked if they were worth anything. I didn't see any gutties or featheries but there were a couple of 1.62 Dunlops and a Penfold that I reckoned would fetch a quid on eBay. He offered me the lot for a fiver.
Today, my drives are so erratic, I'm now wading through the frost-crested rough looking for my two errant balls and beginning to entertain thoughts of walking in early!
I've been ill you see! That's my excuse! At this very moment, I'm supposed to be playing golf in the subtropical paradise of Mauritius. It's Saturday and today I would have been tackling the Heritage course in the south of the island, one of my all-time favourites in around 30 degree temperatures. Instead, I'm hacking my way around my home turf of Monifieth and it's positively Baltic.
Having encountered a dose of self-induced food poisoning (should have cooked that chicken much longer - I bought a new cast iron pan and you need to heat those things up properly - or maybe it's just a tummy bug) I had to cancel the trip, the first one I've ever missed in 25 years. That's how bad!
Today after nearly a week confined to my bed and In spite of the cold, I was desperate for fresh air and a stretch. it's beautiful out here though, I have to admit. That's the great thing about links golf on the East Coast of Scotland - even in the dead of winter. I'm playing off a fairway mat and the greens are as hard as rock, the ball bouncing 20-feet in the air when landing...and usually off into the rough. But you still get a game of sorts.
There's something not right with my swing though. Whether it's all the cold weather gear or whether it's the effects of the illness I feel quite weak and stiff and I guess that's. why I'm pushing right - and unusual errant shot for me. The thing is, when your body has been so badly beat-up, you don't know what effect is going to have on your swing. I was aware that my back was tired, my legs stiff and that's why I came out in the first place - to try and work it out. There's nothing better than a stroll on a golf course with your bag on your back, gently swinging to get you feeling better again and it seemed to be slowly working.
At the burn on the 6th, I picked up an old, dog-chewed ball that somebody had fished out the burn and nobody else wanted. Being so low on ammo, I hit it and it went rather well. A huge flock of geese rose up from the fields inland and things began to get better.
The East Coast train from Carnoustie suddenly flies past. The holes are empty certainly on the front 9. There are a few groups on the back trying to get a full round in before dark. Suddenly, I'm feeling quite good and glad I came out. When I'm on my own like this, I like to try things. While my driving was still awry, my putting had come good. I'm keeping my weight back on my heels a little and it seems to be working rather well. God knows how we discover these things. It's completely ramdon.
I was playing three balls simultaneously and the old, chewed-up Callaway kept going best of all. I was finding a swing again and a spring in my step. The best cure for a bad stomach - ever. I got a bit carried away and began hooking - a sure sign my old self returning. At the 10th I duck-hooked one on to the pond and it stayed buoyed up by the ice.
I'd reached the far end of the course, the sun was sinking and it was getting colder. It was time to walk in again, too dark to play. It might not be Mauritius but I was seriously glad I came.