That golf is some way removed from getting back to normal was very quickly brought home to the two doctors who wanted to resume their regular matches the moment Scottish clubs opened for business on 29 May.
The one who took charge of the booking was given a 10 a.m. tee time on the morning of 1 June before being reminded that it was only for the front nine.
Since that was only what he had anticipated, the doctor explained that he would ring back straight after the first nine holes, by the end of which he and his colleague would have agreed to a suitable day for the next instalment.
“Don’t wait too long,” advised the chap on the line.
He didn’t, making the call immediately in the wake of matching tallies of 35, scores which were way beyond expectations. The pair couldn’t wait to get out there again, but would you believe there was by then nothing in the way of a starting time available until the middle of July – a fact in keeping with the latest news that Scottish clubs have been attracting a new spate of members.
“Our games might have gone by then,” said the bemused recipient of the news.
That’s the thing with golf. Even when the gap between one nine-hole outing and another is simply the time it takes to walk from the ninth green to the 10th tee, you have little or no idea of what’s coming next. All too often, the satisfaction of having nine good holes in the bag can be overtaken by the thought that you are about to hash up.
Tiger Woods, when he won the 1997 Masters, did the “easier” thing of following an outward 40 with an inward 30. He used the perceived turning point to work out that his swing was too long and that he had been playing too defensively.
For an instance of what can happen the other way round, there is the tale of that “honest hacker” who, having never broken 90 in his life, reached the turn at his home course (its name is not supplied) in 39. He used this big moment to tell his friend, “Today’s the day.”
He came home in 72 for a 111 and, according to that friend of his, “he shuffled off into the sunset a broken man.”
The original, red Golfer’s Handbook used to include a section entitled “Curious Scoring.” The only downside to what was always a fascinating collection of information was that you would suddenly light upon a believe-it-or-not stretch of scoring, only to discover that there was no follow-on news of what happened next.
Take, for example, the instance of a Mr William Ingles who, in playing over Torphin on 2 September 1920, began his round 5-4-3-2-1.
There the story ends. The only thing of which we can be sure is that things didn’t get any better.