Acting on information received in mid-week, match and handicap investigating officers carried out a cold case review of the previous weekend’s scores in the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League. As a result of their inquiries, two teams were disqualified from that round of the competition and their scoring points reallocated. A further unforeseen result of the investigation was that the golf notes carried in the Stornoway Gazette last week were inaccurate. Consequently, the golf news contained more rubbish than is generally the case.
It emerged that two teams had failed to exchange scorecards at the beginning of their rounds. As is customary, each team recorded the scores made on each hole by the opposing team. However, the crucial difference in this instance was that the names of the contestants at the top of the scorecard were those of the members of the team marking, rather than the team making, those scores. The outcome was that one team, playing well under par, submitted and signed for their scores on a card carrying the names of their opponents. The opponents were initially awarded scoring points, until the error was discovered. Both teams were subsequently disqualified.
To avoid any repeat of this heinous crime against golf, the suggestion is that teams take a leaf out of the football book. Just as pennants are exchanged between teams prior to kick-off in international football matches, the exchange of scorecards before commencing a round should take on ceremonial status. The marker in each team should doff his hat, don a pair of white gloves and present his scorecard on a small velvet cushion to his opposite number. Cushions can be purchased from the club shop and will make an excellent Christmas gift for a loved one.
Once competitors had dealt with the various traumas of exchanging scorecards, tying their shoelaces, loading clubs onto trolleys, trying to remember where on the course they were supposed to be and so on, the golf course was certainly more forgiving last Saturday than on the previous weekend. The milder weather helped and no less than forty-nine of the fifty-four teams in the competition were represented. Of those, fourteen pairings posted scores under par.
Four teams were tied on nett 42, earning seven scoring points each. David Black and Neil Rowlands played without the benefit of partners although, as David Black’s non-playing partner stressed, he had at least given David a healthy handicap of three. That proved to be more than enough for David, who recorded a gross score of level par, the lowest of the day. David began and ended his outward half with a birdie and picked up another on the Ranol on the inward half.
A birdie on the Glen was the highlight of a solid round by Neil Rowlands; a similarly solid round was posted by Peter Dickie and Stewart Macdonald.
The final team on nett 42 was David “Spider” Macleod and Donald John Smith. A birdie on each half of the course, on the Miller and Heather, underpinned an excellent around.
Two teams posted net 41 for eleven points apiece. Two over par at the turn, with six strokes of their handicap still remaining, Jamie Duncan and George Macaskill dropped only one more shot on the inward half to complete their best display of the Winter League. George and Jamie share second spot with James Maciver and Stewart Campbell. James and Stewart struggled over the first half of the course but a second half of four pars and two bogeys took them to within a stroke of the winning total.
Murdie Macdonald and Iain Macritchie had scored points on the new course setup in the previous week with a solid nett level par round. After the first six holes last Saturday, four over par, it looked as though a repeat performance was on the cards. Three pars and one bogey later, Murdie and Iain were looking at multiple scoring points; and then two birdies on their final two holes, the Cup and Foresters, took them clear of the field on net 40. Their fifteen scoring points have lifted Murdie and Iain into the top fifteen in the league table.
There is a special mention this week for Charlie Maclean who, by simply turning up for the first time this winter and picking up two appearance points, single-handedly lifted his team from the bottom of the Winter League table to the giddy heights of fifty-third position. His playing partner, Eric Anderson, is still missing.
The positions at the top of the overall table have changed very little, with none of the five leading teams scoring points last weekend. Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie are in first place on 52 points, three points clear of David Gray and Gordon Kennedy. Griddy Macleod and Kevin Macrae are third on 45 points, with Willie Macaulay and Alasdair Maclean two points further back. On 41 points, Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh share fifth spot with Richard Galloway and Cal Robertson.
This weekend, the Winter League takes a break, replaced by one of the most popular competitions of the year. The annual Ken MacDonald & Co sponsored TeXmas Scramble is a recipe for low scoring. Expect the winning total to be around a dozen strokes under par. Fortunately, teams do not have to exchange scorecards before commencing play and so it will take a concerted effort for any team to be disqualified.