I was going to write, and doubtless rant, about dress codes this morning – and that is still in the pipeline – but I’m on the train to Edinburgh en route to Inverness, via changes at Haymarket and Perth, so my thoughts have turned to

Player and course (Little Aston) looking immaculate.

luggage (which makes a change from mush).

There was a time when I was a pretty good packer, accustomed as I was to hopping on and off aeroplanes but I don’t do that any more and travelling by car is not good for encouraging minimalism – better take that extra jacket just in case; throw in the extra golf shoes; plenty of wine for the hosts; a brolly; big bottle of sunscreen; woolly hat; spare this; another that; laptop and leads, all higgledy-piggledy, stuffed into a corner; those letters I meant to answer; bank statements I was going to study forensically; that library book on A Day In The Life Of The Brain; no need to pack neatly; and golf clubs?  No problem at all.

Except that I baulked at driving to Inverness on my own – I did St Andrews not so long ago and that was bad enough and did nothing for my golf.  My game is an unpredictable, rather delicate flower that needs nurturing and tlc (tender loving care) not dlz (driving long distances like a zombie).  So, lacking a chauffeur or, even better, a spare helicopter, I opted to let the train take the strain.

Alas, that also means me taking the strain, even if I was using wheels, which I’m not because I have some vague notion that I’ll go trekking round South America before too long and need to practise travelling really light and be prepared for all terrain.  Notions and delusions! Anyway, even with wheels, there’s a fair amount of lifting and straining involved in travelling with luggage, especially when you include golf clubs in the mix.

Not that train companies seem to cater too well for baggage these days.  Are there still baggage cars?  Maybe I missed it. Or have studies shown that people using trains are a non-travelling species who don’t carry stuff, that all those bags and suitcases are an illusion?  The designated space for luggage in my carriage had a blooming great pole up the middle, making storing your stuff a bit of a Krypton Factor-type test of your spatial awareness and ingenuity.  Thank goodness the train wasn’t too busy and the rucksacks going to the Lake District could be accommodated on spare seats.

Good thing train not busy. Luggage for three.

Overhead – although this seems to vary from carriage to carriage, train to train – there was barely any space even for fishing rods, some of which can be broken down, or, more likely, broken, and as for golf clubs, well, good luck.  I’d been persuaded to bring my own clubs instead of hiring a set at Castle Stuart, my ultimate destination.  Bad decision.

The good thing was that it did give me the chance to rail-test a neat tube of a bag that I bought at Valderrama (at some expense, natch) many years ago.  It was when Nick Faldo was in his heyday, so the bag has spent many years indoors (cupboard, garage, shed) housing a couple of refugee persimmon drivers, a battered baffler by Cobra and some putters.

Now, this bag, designed by Bally and endorsed by Faldo is tough and resilient and holds my small set – big-headed driver, 5-wood, rescue, irons 7, 8 and 9, wedge, sand iron and putter, plus a towel and a bottle of kefir nice and neatly. The fatal flaw, which turned it from being the ideal holiday bag into a blooming nuisance, was that it hadn’t been endorsed by Fanny, Faldo’s caddy.  The bag has a long carrying strap but it’s useless because the balance is all wrong; it’s an ill-thought out adjunct designed, presumably, by people who had no idea that golfers ever carried their own bags on the golf course or might desire to do so.  Still, dispense with the strap and just use the handle and it’s grand as a protective container, if still a bit of a fag for train travel.

Changing at Haymarket

On mature, aching reflection, I realised that my adviser was a professional player whose equipment matters to her because she knows what she’s doing and likes to know what her clubs are likely to do.  That’s not so necessary at my level; I rarely know from one shot to the next what I’m doing, so I suppose my clubs are versatile and prepared for anything.  They’re also an ageing mishmash and it was a mistake not to take the chance of trying out a newer, swankier set.

I’m probably ready for a change but Maureen insists I have a course of lessons first, to make sure it’s worthwhile.  Hope I have a patient partner this weekend!

Nearly there?  Perth. Only a couple more hours to Inverness. Scotland goes up a long way. Should have been playing at Blairgowrie or Gleneagles perhaps!