The weather has now turned cold – very cold indeed – but at least it has temporarily stopped raining, which has allowed some golf to be played. Monday was Tristan’s 20th birthday which allowed him a day off: in the absence of friends to spend it with, he settled for playing the first Dad vs Tristan of the new year. We chose to play at Paultons which generally survives wet weather best of the local courses, and it was in pretty good fettle, with most of the water contained in puddles on the pathways. The greens are spectacularly good for the time of year, but then they were built to USPGA spec. Things were close all the way, with nothing much in it, and it was all square with two to play. Tristan just sneaked the long par 4 17th after I had a bit of trouble off piste, but I had hopes of coming back on the last after a good uphill tee shot. Trouble was, I inexplicably couldn’t find my ball up top. Still, all was not lost, as Tristan was having struggles of his own on the other side of the fairway. A seemingly well struck 6 iron which landed pin high but a little right dealt the hammer blow to my flickering hopes, as that ball, too, remained hidden in the rather lush grass! So Tristan was the year’s first winner, but it was his birthday after all.
Yesterday morning the cold front, which had been making itself felt the previous afternoon, was firmly settled over Southampton, and the temperature was two or three degrees below zero when we teed off into a frosty wasteland. Only 15 holes were open, a legacy of the previous wet weather, and things were unpredictable, with all sorts of odd bounces taking us by surprise and the greens defying any attempt to read them and refusing to allow any serious estimation of required speed. Indeed, the nearest the pin prize went unclaimed, as no-one could get the ball to stay on the green. I landed mine in regulation fashion, only for it to bound eagerly over the back. Ah well. I was locked all the way in a duel in the frost with my friend JG whom I rightly identified as the most likely points winner. Here too it was nip and tuck and we stood on the 18th tee equal on points. JG mishit his drive but at least it was down the middle, whereas I caned mine into the trees on the right, which required two further shots to get back on track. A (though I say it myself) stunning high 9 iron into the green was just too little too late, and I had to settle for second spot on the prize list.
Today I went round the back 9 solo on a bitingly cold but sunny afternoon and came away quite happy with the outcome of 3 over: 6 pars and 3 bogeys. An encouraging start to the golfing year.