On a day when the greens remained white with frost at midday and a new course layout was unveiled, it might have been expected that competition scores would be higher than of late. Instead, assisted by an almost complete lack of wind, the lowest score to date in the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League was posted. So many teams appeared to have mastered the icy conditions that scoring points were only earned by those returning totals of three under par or better.
The winning total was in the realms of the ridiculous, comparable to a football team scoring over thirty goals in a match or a rugby club racking up over a hundred points. Liam McGeoghegan and Robert Rankin played superb golf from start to finish.
Negotiating a testing opening that included the Castle and Dardanelles in level par, Liam and Bob closed out their outward half with an excellent birdie on the hybrid Goosey Eyes. Liam’s perfect tee shot dropped just over the flag and another solid putt did the rest. The inward half was only slightly less impressive, with a bogey on the Short giving them a level par round. Their handicap reduced that total to nett 37, so far ahead of the field that there was no real need to check any other scorecards.
Two teams made a valiant attempt to chase down the winning total but both fell three strokes short. The fact that John Cunningham and Scott Maciver put together a good score is remarkable, considering that they played in the morning, when the course was as hard as it has been all winter. The pair were four over par after a difficult first half and they remained on that score after four successive pars on the return leg. A birdie on the Short gave them a boost and John and Scott added another on their final hole, the Manor. The eleven scoring points lifted them to eleventh place in the overall league table.
John Gillies and John R Gillies birdied the Heather to reach the halfway point only one over par. A steady inward half avoided their unnerving habit of ruining a scorecard with an inexplicable triple bogey and they finished on nett 40.
Adam Longdon and Michael Jefferson are all too familiar with the triple bogeys that blight good rounds and, unfortunately, they pulled another out of the hat last weekend. On their previous outing, a potentially winning round was blown away on the Heather. This time, the damage was done on the Ranol but such was the standard of the remainder of their round, including a birdie on the Goosey Eyes, that they managed to return nett 41 and picked up six scoring points.
Adam and Michael’s total was matched by another five teams. Kevin “Lava” Macleod and Norman Morrison conjured up a triple bogey on their opening hole and were six over at the halfway point. Rather than throw in the towel or, indeed, throw anything else that came to hand, Kevin and Norman simply rolled up their sleeves and completed the inward half in level par.
Dave Macmillan and Andy Murray have now earned scoring points in four of their last five Winter League outings. That level of consistency is outstanding and perhaps raises questions about their double digit handicap. Having reached the turn five over par, Dave and Andy dropped only two strokes on the return leg. Questions about their handicap should be answered this weekend, when they will play off one stroke less.
Norman L Macdonald and Iain Macleod had a rare birdie on the Castle, and another of the common or garden variety on the Short, in a round that could have threatened the winners but for costly double bogeys. They were spurred on by their playing partners, Rod Mackinlay and Seumas Mactaggart, who matched their nett score of 41 and contributed a birdie on the Glen.
Murdie Macdonald and Iain Macritchie reached the halfway point having dropped only one stroke to par, on the Castle. They dropped only two on the inward half to end a barren spell and rekindle their challenge.
The overall Winter League table has little change at the top but there are now around twenty teams who could hit the front by winning this weekend. David Black and Iain Macdonald are tied in ninth position with David Macleod and Donald John Smith on 50 points. The Gillies twins have moved up to eighth on 52 points, one point behind Griddy Macleod and Kevin Macrae.
Jamie Duncan and George Macaskill are sixth on 56 points, one adrift of Peter and Murdo O’Brien. David Gray and Gordon Kennedy drop a place to fourth, one point behind Liam McGeoghegan and Robert Rankin, who in turn are just one point behind the joint leaders. Ken Galloway and George Mould continue to share top spot with Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie on 60 points.
Tickets are on sale for the Burns Supper on 25 January, priced at £15 each, and can be purchased from the Golf Club. Speakers are Donald John Smith, John R Gillies and Fiona Macdonald. If that is not attraction enough, there are vast quantities of haggis on offer and music to boot. All for the price of a few bags of crisps (the multi-packs, not the individual bags).