To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, the only thing worse than playing bad golf is not playing bad golf. And by that I don't mean playing good golf – don't be silly – I mean not playing at all. There can be few forms of organised ritual humiliation that invoke withdrawal symptoms but this game is one, even at the time of year when huddling in the warm rearranging one's collection of ball-markers might seem the more sensible option.
Lately, it has seemed the fates have been colluding to ensure that it neatly starts with Aldeburgh and ends with Woodbridge. Take a recent whistlestop trip to Mallorca, an outing designed to lay before assorted members of the fourth estate the delights of Son Gual, a spectacular upmarket course.
The place is quite beautiful, dotted as it is with olive groves, embryonic vineyards and wildflower meadows and, barely a year since it opened, it could eventually be the island's best sporting asset since Rafael Nadal. Its design, setting and unashamedly luxurious ambience offer much. But sadly, not when we were there. Mallorca claims virtually year-round sun but on this occasion the rain lashed and the wind blew to the extent that the unseasonal freak storms were the lead on the local news.
Judgmental golf was not an option – into the teeth of the gale off the stunning, elevated first, one of our number, who plays off three, failed to make the 120-yard carry to the fairway – and the happiest people on the course were the local peasant folk harvesting olives. Far from having to shake the fruit loose, they let the elements do the job.
Back to real life, three inches of frozen snow covering the car at Luton airport prompted the Heath Robinson-style deployment of a pitchmark repairer, a card cover and my putter head (all that was available in the boot), and a twisted thumb.
The next outing scheduled was a shotgun-start scramble on captains' drive-in day. As everyone left the frolics on the first and headed for their allotted tees, it started to snow. We set off from the 16th and after three holes we'd lost six balls, two on the fairway. Hoisting the white flag on the 18th was a no-brainer and we weren't the first to walk in.
Last week the bug that everyone has had struck, but I'd put my name down for the monthly medal and decided, with the worst of the lurgy over, to soldier bravely on. Part of the ongoing frustration had been the fact I have a new, exciting club, a three-wood with more loft than my old one, which is apparently absolutely guaranteed to improve my game. After six holes, my score was 41 shots and I gave up. I was cold and getting colder, felt feeble and never mind the wonder club, I couldn't hit anything in the bag. I like to think the two facts are not entirely unconnected but, again to almost quote the great Oscar, delusion is the first of all pleasures.
This morning I'm due on the tee for the annual Turkey Trot. The way things have been going, though, a meteorite strike at Bury St Edmunds would be no real surprise. But at least it would prevent me from winning the Paxo.