What are the worst conditions you've ever played in?November 8, 2017 The Scoop
In a Winter Golf Week special edition of The Niggle, the NCG team reminisces about times they've battled with the elements
Alex Perry: I played the Old Course in 50mph winds with about 75 other members of golf’s illustrious media, including Mark and Dan. I finished 3rd.
Tom Irwin: Humble brag.
Alex Perry: Thought I would start on a positive note. We’d all be the same. My caddie told me it was windier than the 2010 Open when they hauled the players off the course.
Mark Townsend: It was possible for us mere mortals to drive 15, 16 and 18.
Dan Murphy: At Dunbar, on the par-5 9th, I had a chip into the wind over a bunker. It landed next to the hole but by that stage was travelling backwards and it then rolled fully 20 feet back towards me, up a slope, off the green and trickled back into the bunker. From there, if I hit it high enough to clear the face then it didn’t have enough force to go forwards so, from the middle of the bunker, I had to play out sideways.
Tom Irwin: I played a university match in 1997 at a frozen Moortown. Our set piece at the time was to send out my housemates, who played off 18 and 24 respectively, first and second against the two low men of the opposition.
This strategy came into its own on the frozen greens that day. I can still remember watching a +2 handicap 6 putt the 17th green to lose his match 2&1 to someone off 24. Frost was the great leveller.
Alex Perry: I love playing in icy conditions. On New Year’s Eve a few years ago, some friends and I went down to play Dartmouth. I completely shinned one off the par-3 7th, it hop, skip and jumped its way along the frozen lake that separates the tee from the green and ended within gimme range.
James Savage: I once played at Bondhay in early January. It was my girlfriend’s 30th birthday so all the girls had gone for a spa day and the lads went to play golf. It must have been about -10 and completely frozen. We were the only people on the course. It was a complete waste of time pitching your ball on the green as it would only bounce 30 yards over the back.
One member of our fourball was playing really slowly – was never ready and spent five minutes waggling over the ball on every shot. I’ve never been so cold in all my life. I was too cold to even enjoy the pork sandwich after. My dad was unwell for about a month afterwards. My father-in-law to be hasn’t been on a golf course since and my slow-playing friend gets fobbed off with an excuse every time he asks me for a game. But I still love winter golf.
Tom Irwin: Dan and I once played in the frost, gave up and then went to watch Leeds vs. Millwall. Jody Morris scored a last-minute penalty and there was riot. And then there was the time we played in the snow at Linden Hall.
Alex Perry: Well if it’s snow tales you’re after, Mark and I played in Lapland once.
Mark Townsend: That’s the coldest I’ve ever been.
Alex Perry: Well it was -32.
Mark Townsend: We had played 18 holes of snow golf during the day, which was lovely, and it finished all square. But that wasn’t enough for our host, Peder, so he took us back out at 10pm for the play-off. We played with glow-in-the-dark balls. It was so cold conversation wasn’t really possible.
Alex Perry: Neither was golf. It was a thick blizzard. They had put spotlights on the tee and the ‘white’. If I recall we needed to play the hole three times before Peder – the Snow Golf Championships 2011 winner – rolled home the winning putt.
Mark Townsend: Fortunately the previous five hours had been spent tipping lager into our heads and eating Arctic Char which, as you’ll all know, was part of Mike Weir’s Masters menu. It was genuinely exquisite.
Alex Perry: That was, hands down, the most beautiful experience of my life.
Mark Townsend: Apart from the bit where we all almost died.
Craig Middleton: New Year’s Day and my dad and I went for a knock at South Shields. We arrived at about 8.15am and it was just about light enough to tee off. There was a bit of rain in the air and the old man was sceptical and wanted to come back the following day. I practically laughed in his face.
Fast forward what seemed like hours and I was wetter than I’ve ever been in my life. There was something extra vicious about the rain, it wasn’t normal. Then the hail started – stones the size of golf balls – and Hurricane Billy joined in for fun too. I honestly couldn’t feel my face, hands or feet. I had no waterproofs because I hadn’t checked the forecast, and my dad was angrier than I’ve ever seen him. We got back to the car and didn’t speak for the rest of the day. We played three holes.
Steve Carroll: I played a York Union event at Aldwark Manor where I feared I’d need an arc rather than a bag of clubs. It rained so relentlessly that they pulled the competition after seven holes. Even my waterproofs couldn’t deal with the strain. It’s probably the only time I’ve ever been happy to get off a course.
Mark Townsend: I remember spending about two hours trying to get dry after getting persisted on at the New Course at St Andrews with Dan and Tom. We sat there like Roman emperors in our towels.
Joe Urquhart: I played with Craig in monsoon conditions at Monifieth. If I’d have jumped in the North Sea I would have been drier.
Craig Middleton: Don’t forget Ladybank – that was horrendous. The weather, I mean.
Alex Perry: Wasn’t that in June?
Craig Middleton: Yep.
Joe Urquhart: We had to walk off after 14.
I tweaked two balls into Corinthian Casuals’ ground to be +9 after six holes. Two hours later I got up and down from a copse behind the 15th to stay at +7. I know, you do the math.
It was the only day I ever succeeded in hitting a Persimmon driver properly and I had grey Worsted trousers that weighed about two stone when wet. Then, stood on the 16th tee, it lashed it down like I’d never seen. Within a few minutes the 16th green was under water, we got slashed on for half an hour with no waterproofs or cover and we were then called in due to some electrical activity in the area.
We waited in the pro shop for an hour before people started to drift off home. I asked what my options were; come back on Monday night after school to finish the round or replay it all next week. Everyone in that shop burst out laughing which might have had something to do with why I then cried in the toilets minutes later.
I could have afforded to drop two shots in the last three holes and still have won. To this day I’ve still not played Walton Heath’s Old Course. My best friend at the time qualified and shot 94.
Alex Perry: Wow. Want to talk about it?