Former Scottish youths champion Stephen Roger’s trip to play in France’s top amateur tournament turned into a nightmare he could never have imagined.
Stephen admitted everything that could go wrong did but it has left him ready to bounce back after learning from the diastrous experience.
Plus-three handicapper Stephen, who is now attached to Peebles after growing up learning his skills at Cruden Bay, said: “My trip to France to play in the prestigious Biarritz Cup – which has been played for more than 100 years – was interesting, to say the least.
“I travelled there with fellow Scots Rory Franssen and Kieran Cantley.
“When we arrived in Biarritz, our clubs and luggage had been left in Birmingham so we played the following day’s practice round with hired clubs.
“We had one driver between the three of us – a Taylormade R7 – a set of old McGregor irons and a couple wedges that had seen better days.
“On the day of the first round, we were supposed to get our clubs from the airport an hour before our tee times if all went according to plan.
“Unfortunately, for me, it did not.
“I didn’t receive my luggage or clubs although the other two lads did.
“I then had to frantically search for equipment and managed to borrow one of the English players’ set of clubs and an old pair of metal spike golf shoes that didn’t fit right.
“So, armed with clubs I had never hit before, clothes I had worn for three days straight and little more than 10 minutes to warm up, I stepped on to the first tee with nothing more than hope.
“Things could only get better, I thought … they did not.
“As I hit my first tee shot, monsoon rain came bucketing down and as I only had shorts and a t-shirt I very quickly became sodden.
“Needless to say I bogeyed the first.
“We had a 20-minute delay of play so the greens could be squeegeed before continuing.
“As we walked up the next fairway my playing partner – a Spaniard – told me it was preferred lies and as the starters did not speak English I assumed he had been told by them so I used preferred lies for the rest of the round.
“By the sixth hole, I had got back to level par and was somehow playing half-decent golf.
“Wrong. This is when it went pear-shaped.
“One of my shoes broke during my follow-through with my approach into our sixth hole (the 15th as we started at the 10th).
“As the sole of the shoe had almost detached, I ripped it off so I could continue playing.
“Unfortunately, I was now considerably lop-sided and the shoe had no grip.
“Soon the water started to pour in the soleless shoe.
“No surprise that I played the next four holes in three over.
“When I got to our back nine, I sprinted to the clubhouse and borrowed an old pair of Footjoy shoes. Although they were quite uncomfortable they were the best option available to me. When I got to the par five fifth, our 14th hole, an official noticed me using preferred lies and informed me it was a one-stroke penalty as preferred lies were not in operation.
“I told him why I had been using them and that I used them for the duration of the round so was later disqualified – understandably.
“I had a pretty bad day I suppose.
“But on the bright side my luggage and clubs showed up two days later just in time for the journey home!
“I look back on it with a smile now and reckon that anything that happens in the future can never be as bad.”