Little is known about the lives of the Saturday evening Stornoway golfers; they would probably prefer it to remain that way. They are a rare breed, venturing out to forage on the golf course in late afternoon and only returning to their homes under cover of darkness. How they pass the time earlier in the day does not distinguish them from the the activity of normal human beings: a trip to the supermarket, odd jobs around the house, sitting slumped in an armchair watching television, rummaging for food at regular intervals, gardening and perhaps even sunbathing.
What we do know is that they become agitated at around 3pm in preparation for migration to the Castle Grounds. They will usually wear clothing suited to the balmy conditions of the day. And then, just as they leave the comfort of the clubhouse, the sky will darken and the first drops of rain will begin to fall. Sometimes, the golfers will refrain from donning waterproofs immediately in the hope that the strengthening wind might mean this is a passing shower.
In any event, by the time they reach the third tee, they will be clad from head to foot in oilskins and water will already be dripping from them as the rain becomes heavy and persistent. On the eighth tee, the umbrella will have been abandoned as useless against the gale, the golf glove cannot be removed because it is so wet that it could not be worn again, club grips are damp and slippery, shoes have long since leaked and feet are now beginning to numb. The confident walk to the first tee is now reduced to a waddle by waterlogged clothing.
Some will abandon the course after the thirteenth hole but others will continue, on the basis that “we cannot get any wetter and the rain might ease”. They can and it doesn’t. When they do reach the clubhouse, they gather in small groups for warmth and look for a radiator to dry scorecards and clothing. In their saturated state, even simple skills such as using the TV remote control will be utterly beyond them.
That explains why, last weekend, evening golfers failed to make much impact on the leaderboard in the latest qualifying round of the competition for the Jackson Medal. Instead, more sensible souls took advantage of better weather conditions earlier in the day and there four several outstanding under par rounds.
Iain Macleod, Andy Murray and George Macleod all posted nett 64. Iain had a remarkably steady round comprising seven bogeys, ten pars and a birdie on the Manor, to take fourth place.
Andy made a bright start before trying to undo all his good work by dropping five shots in two holes just before the turn. However, he recovered his composure and made nothing worse than a bogey on the remaining nine holes to equal his best ever round.
George Macleod relegated Andy to third place despite a similar couple of potentially disastrous holes. His recovery began earlier in the round and George completed his final twelve holes with six bogeys and six pars to post his lowest score of the year.
For Andrew Reeves, a score in the buffer zone would be celebrated in a season that he might have been wishing would end as soon as possible. Until last Saturday. In fact, for the first six holes, nothing indicated that this would be any different from any other round this summer. Things changed dramatically with consecutive birdies on the Redan and Gunsite. A third birdie on the Cup was simply the icing on the cake because, by then, Andrew was playing the kind of golf that deserted him back in April. A solid finish gave him a total of nett 62 and a qualifying spot in next weekend’s final, which ends the summer season.
Somewhat surprisingly, the competition scratch score rose to 69 and that resulted in severe handicap reductions for the top three finishers. It was also a belated bonus for some of the evening golfers who had given up hope of reaching the buffer zone well before their rounds were completed.
The Junior Medal competition was won by Michael Jefferson without the need for another hole in one. He did have a birdie 2 on the Short just to prove that last week’s achievement was no fluke. Runner up Mark Morrison was not to be outdone and he made his own birdie on the par 3 final hole.