There is, inevitably, a culture shock when you return from three weeks playing golf on sumptuous courses in sunnier climes and face the old familiar surroundings — and dark, cold and wet ones at that.
But I stoically braced myself for a squelch around The Glamorganshire last Saturday and was disappointed when a deluge caused our Texas Scramble to be cancelled.
However, on Wednesday Royal Porthcawl was well playable despite the odd puddle still lingering and although it was cold and windy the course was in good nick.
It had seen plenty of action over the weekend because many of the English who were in south Wales for the Wales v England rugby match on Saturday evening had incorporated a game at Porthcawl into their trip — including a team from Sunningdale who came down for their annual match.
I trust they enjoyed the golf because they wouldn’t have enjoyed the rugby.
I was pleasantly surprised that my game wasn’t too bad. That’s the other drawback about playing abroad. With some sun on your back, lush green fairways underfoot and only one layer of clothing instead of four or five you actually start swinging more sweetly or, at least, think you are.
Homecoming, especially in this weather, can soon destroy that illusion. But, slowly, I found the rhythm that had been gradually seeping into my game in Florida and it might have brought a rare success had I not made a basic mistake.
They say you should never give advice to a struggling opponent. It is not something that normally bothers me because you’d have to be really struggling to ask me for advice and whenever I do it leads to an immediate breakdown of the player’s faculties and rude suggestions about keeping my bloody mouth shut.
But my playing companion, John Dodd, was having a bad time off the tee. He had started strongly and although I was hitting the ball tolerably well my putting was terrible and I was three down after seven holes.
We play for a pound, pound, pound so I was a quid down fairly early. Then I got a par on the par five eighth — which I can’t remember doing before — and I was finding the fairway off the tee with heartening regularity.
John, on the other hand, was having problems with his driving and was swearing a lot. Unwilling to see a friend in distress I offered the humble opinion that he was starting his backswing with a jerk of his shoulders.
He said he’d been having trouble with turning and was concentrating on getting his shoulders around. I suggested he think about turning more from the hips and coming around in one piece.
There was a slight improvement but then I added the final pearl, saying he should concentrate on finishing his backswing with his left shoulder firmly under his chin.
I should have kept my trap shut. He immediately began hitting the ball miles. At the time of these exchanges I won four holes to go two up on the back nine and all square on the game. I looked to be heading comfortably for a rare victory.
That was the situation when we reached the 17th tee where I hit my first bad drive of the day. In sharp contrast he hit his best drive of the day by far.
He followed it up with a massive fairway wood to go one up on the game and one down on the back nine. His drive on the 18th was even more massive, a good 60 yards ahead of mine.
I made the mistake of trying to hit my second shot too hard and although it was only slightly off line, we never found it.
So I lost the first nine, the game and halved the back nine. This meant I owed him only two pounds instead of the normal three. That was a triumph of a sort, I suppose, and he couldn’t stop thanking me for the advice.
’If you hadn’t told me that, you would have won easily,’ he said with sincere gratitude.
He still took the two quid, though.