Just before Christmas, I headed from one end of the country to the other for a Christmas do. Ordinarily I wouldn't sit on a train for five hours and return home the following day in the early hours via the National Express due to the train strikes but at the end of the rainbow was the opportunity to play some links golf.
Links golf might just be the best tonic for anything in life (if you're a golfer). In winter it can be bleak at times but it can be equally as brilliant. The routing gets you round in good time, there's no trudging to the back tees and, even in temperatures of -3˚, it was sensational.
Lying in bed with a thick head my outlook wasn't quite as cheery but, a couple of holes in at Princes in Kent, and the head was clear and the fingers slightly more useful. Everything was frozen solid, including the bunkers, but it was still golf and the same challenges presented themselves.
If you needed to land the ball 30 yards short then that's what you did. How much more enjoyable is it than constantly looking for your ball under a pile of leaves or plugged somewhere.
If you haven't holed a putt at your local course for a couple of months due to the seasonal bumps then you'll enjoy links greens in the winter. Putts hold their line and occasionally go in.
And the real kicker is that you generally have to do pretty well to lose your ball due to the lack of rough. This is the perfect reminder of how enjoyable, and still testing, golf can be without any thick rough. Get out of position and you'll probably have the wrong angle in and that's more than enough of a punishment than either losing it or wedging it 30 yards back on to the fairway.
Courses aren't busy, green fees are good value and so much more affordable than in the summer, and there's a feeling of all being in it together. Hitting a small ball around a field when it's colder than freezing isn't very normal but it's pretty much as good as it gets.