Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the bleak mid-winter, to paraphrase/adapt Noel Coward.

Having been forced out of winter hibernation this week - the first outing since a disastrous round at The Warwickshire last November - it provoked only one thought.

Why do we brave inclement weather just to knock a wee ball around a fairly barren field, often hitting off a small piece of doormat into what can only be described as a bog in the hope of eventually landing it on an unkempt patch of rutted, pock-marked fairway that has been earmarked "a temporary green"?

Ah winter golf.

Your feet are cold because those #130 fully Gortex-lined, heat inducing-insoled, all leather-uppered, super shoes you have just bought can't possibly protect against the thrilling rush of ice-water that seeps over your ankle as you stand knee-deep in the deep stuff.

Your hands are cold, thus sending a bone-jarring tremor to the depths of your spine each time you mishit the ball.

Your face is suffering minor burns because of the wind-chill combined with rain that is blowing horizontally so much so that you are all rheumy-eyed and it's nothing to do with the romantic notion that, perhaps on this next hole, you might just scrape a par.

So from top to toe you are steeped in misery and we dare not even mention your swing.

Why do it?

What purpose can it serve other than a reminder that you have not miraculously gone from being an 18-plus hacker to a single-figure handicapper merely by staying away from a golf course, driving range or putting mat during the dark mornings and evenings of the past few months.

True the wise among us might have flown off to sunnier climes because we can ill-afford to let our rigorous training programme lapse for even one minute . . . we're all just a few tweaks of the swing away from becoming pros afterall. Aren't we.

Well no, we're not and even the Tour pros take a break.

But here we are into March already - a sixth of the year gone - and rightly our minds and bodies are gearing up for the season.

March can't be too bad can it?

So as I trudged to the furthest point from the clubhouse at Chart Hills Golf Club on Tuesday - it was a shotgun start and we were off the fifth - I had time to ponder exactly what I was doing here.

Considering Kent has been at the centre of drought warnings since Christmas the recent wintry weather and rain had rendered many of the areas I visited quite. Not so in the middle of the fairway or on the greens but then those who know my game will appreciate that I spend little time there during a round of golf.

It was a special day to launch next month's London Golf Show and the very nice organisers of one of the world's biggest exhibitions of golf and all of its goodies had invited us all into the depths of Kent to play the Nick Faldo-designed championship course.

Chart Hills boasts some of the finest golf holes in the country with some of the most imaginative bunkering in the world which made up for the bitterness of the chill but it made for a frustrating day of trying to keep warm while maintaining a semblance of a swing bedecked in too many layers.

But it was reason enough just to catch up with old friends - hacks and hackers who I hadn't seen for quite a while. Not since the last London Golf Show outing at The Oxfordshire a year ago, in fact.

But, and here's the rub, the camaraderie, quickly fostered by pitching four strangers together on a cold winter's day, is something that never ceases to amaze me.

Introductions completed, the first question - before even striking the first ball - always seems to be: "When did you last play?"

To a man, the reply came: "Ooh last year sometime."

Suddenly we were a team, albeit a hapless one.

Two duck-hooks and a couple of slices later, the team bond was unbreakable and it lasted at least 19 holes.

The cold, the wind and the cramped calves are soon forgotten.

Friendship among kindred spirits, even mad ones, that's why we do it.

*The London Golf Show 2006 at ExCel runs from April 27-30.