Anothe round of golf today. This time at Bent Creek which is again just outside Jacksonville. Tee time was the same as Wednesday, 08:36. A good time to tee off we found, not too early as you feel tired but early enough that you finish to still have your afternoon free.

We were playing a threesome this time so no need to worry about randoms getting set up with us. No time card in the cart so no pressure from the course attendants either. This was shaping up to be a good round.

Played a few blinding holes to start with, knocking in bogies & doubles. This is good for me. Had a couple of poor holes on the way out but carded a 62, same as I came in with on Wednesday. Good stuff.

Started the back 9 pretty damn bad but brought it down by one shot per hole for the next 5 holes. The final couple of holes were bad, for all of us. We’re putting it down to being tired after 4+ hours in the heat, although it was cooler than Wednesday is was by no means cool. Given that this is Florida it’s a humid heat, clothes sticking to you etc. Lovely.

I came in on 66, more than I would have liked but still less than 70 that I went out on Wednesday. Overall I carded 128, 4 shots better than Wednesday. I am very happy with this. The course was not any easier, if anything it was harder as there was more water that came into play and the greens were in a horrid condition. Most of the greens had so much sand on them you’d be forgiven for thinking they were under repair and you’d landed on the wrong green. This made them very difficult to read and judge the pace which led to my putting, and to an extent my short game, being slightly worse than Wednesday.

I’m hoping to get another round, possibly 2, in next week to continue this momentum. Problem is Steve is back at work from Tuesday so it would have to be evening games, which is difficult to organise around dinner and putting a 1 year old to bed. Also means we might only get 9 holes in as it gets dark around 9pm here. As I’m typing this there is a lovely sunset happening and the light is not sufficient for golfing.

Even if I don’t get out for anymore rounds I thoroughly enjoyed my 2 this week and I will most definitely be continuing this when I get back home.

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I am currently on holiday in Florida, just outside Jacksonville in the North of Florida to be precise. My wife, son and I are over visiting friends. We have various plans made and today’s was for Steve and I to go golfing.

Let me make one thing clear from the get go, I suck at golf. I’m awful. However I love playing it and wish I had more time to play and get good it. Hell, I’d settle for mediocre at it.

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Steve booked a tee time for us the night before at 08:36 for a two ball at Eagle Landing which is at Orange Park. We arrived at the course at 08:25 and were asked to proceed straight to the first tee. Fine we thought, they just want to be prompt with their starts and don’t want to fall behind early in the morning. We got to the first tee to be told they were putting us in a four ball with two others who had booked single rounds. This really irked me. We booked a two, paid for a two and expected a two. Like I said earlier I am awful at golf and what’s makes me worse is 1) playing with people I don’t know and 2) playing with people who are way better than me (which is most people). You can imagine how I was feeling at this point. I was playing with two people I didn’t know and I had no idea if they had the patience to put up with me. I went with it however, keen to show the Americans that the pasty white guy from the home of golf would at least give it a bash.

Hole 1 (actually hole 10 as they had us tee off on the back 9 first) off to a flying start. I carded a 10. I do not have the score card to hand but the front (back!) 9 went up and down from 10s to 5s. I came in with a 70, 34 over par. The two uninviteds I could tell were getting frustrated as what started out with friendly and jovial, “ooohs” and “that’ll play” had turned into silence and them taking off in their cart as soon as I played my shot from the tee (I was always last to tee off on account of me always finishing last on the previous hole). Still, at least they were keeping quiet about it.

What I hadn’t really paid attention to was the sign in our cart that stated we should be playing in under 4 hours 15 minutes. At the turn one of the course attendants advised us we were running a few minutes behind and “anything you can do to make that up would really help us out”. Great I thought, playing with people who don’t necessarily want to play with me and now we’re on a time limit. What kind of place is this? Golf is meant to be an enjoyable hobby, not something where you are clustered with strangers and put on a countdown. Granted 4:15 is likely ample time to play if you are half way decent, or playing as a two ball and not a four ball. We persevered.

I played a lot better on the back (front!) 9, shooting a 62 and hitting some damn nice shots. Straight tee shots, nice layups, minimal putts. The two unwanteds even started messing up quite few shots which made me feel a whole lot better. We must have made up the time we were behind as well as the course attendants came past us a couple of times and never mentioned anything about us being behind schedule. Score 1 for the slow-coach!

Overall I really enjoyed myself, even if it was an unexpected four ball with a strict time limit. Shooting a 132 on a par 72 may not be ideal but I love to play and it was a beautiful course on a beautiful day. The one thing I will take away from this is no-one can say I don’t get my money’s worth when I play golf!

I would love to hear anyone’s comments on how they feel about receiving an impromptu grouping with strangers and strict time limits. Or just any other gold related comments.

Let me start by saying two things; 1) I have no clue about politics and don’t pretend to and 2) I am not looking to give a heavyweight, vote changing opinion here. I merely wish to share with you all my reason for why I am choosing to vote the way I am.

Why now? Why am I putting my thoughts out there when there is less than 2 weeks to go? You’ve had 2 years man! Well until a couple of months ago I was on the fence. When the referendum was first announced I was an outright No. Now I am voting Yes. Only now am I clear enough on why that I feel I can articulate it well enough to share it with you.

I want to count. I want my vote at an election to carry some weight when I put my cross on that paper. Looking back historically Scottish votes make little difference to the Westminster government. Yes in 2010 we stopped a Conservative majority by giving Labour 2 seats back but 65 of the last 67 years you could remove the Scottish MPs from government and it would have no change on the composition of the UK government. This was brought to my attention one lunchtime at work whilst discussing the referendum with a colleague and I was dumbfounded. This can’t be true I thought, surely a proud nation such as ourselves carries more weight in the political landscape than that? Nope. But we’re not independent either, Holyrood primarily deals with fiscal responsibility of the country as opposed to how the country is actually run, so what does my vote actually mean to the running of my country? Turns out, very little.

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As I said at the beginning I have no clue about politics, up to this point I have never really paid much heed to it. We had Modern Studies class at school that was meant to engage us and get us ready for the day we get to vote but that class was mainly spent listening to a teacher – disillusioned from decades of teaching – moan about how ‘the system’ (still don’t know what system he was talking about) is failing us and him dealing with unruly pupils who knew if they misbehaved the class time would pass with him shouting at them and them not having to learn anything. Turned out it wasn’t just them that didn’t learn anything because of this. So as a result I have voted throughout the years for parties that had manifesto’s that caught my eye, that struck a chord with me but I have never really known, truly, who I have been voting for. Now I know it was essentially nothing. I voted for Lib Dems in 2010, believing Nick Clegg offered something different for British politics and ultimately being bitterly disappointed with his desire to be Deputy Prime Minister rather than sticking to his guns. The Tories are in it for the rich, the Lib Dems are in it for a laugh and Labour, well who knows.

“Alex Salmond is a dick, I’m not voting for him”. Surprisingly this is one of the main reasons I hear from No voters as their reason for voting No. Let me just put this out there, the man is a dick but you’re not voting for him. You’re not voting for Darling, Cameron, Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, SNP etc etc either. You are voting for change. Real change. A chance to shape our political landscape for the better, you are voting for a chance to count. If a Yes vote comes through then Salmond and SNP will ultimately start to shape our country and the way it will be run, however there is another Scottish general election due in May 2016, you can vote them out. And your vote will count! It will truly make a difference in the way our country will be run for the following 5 years. You can vote for whoever you want with the knowledge that you will be shaping your own future.

That my friends, is why I am voting yes.

Below are articles written by a friend of mine which helped give me a better understanding on reasons for voting yes. If you are on the fence or just want to read more on personal reasons for voting Yes then I implore you to read them:

The biggest year of my life

Remember the Opportunity

Scotland has a chance to enact real change