The last of the glittering prizes in Stornoway was contested on a heavy, warm Saturday that felt more like mid-July than the tail end of September. The Jackson Medal is the oldest and probably most valuable piece of silverware on offer in our golfing calendar. It is so precious that the winner is permitted to view it briefly before the Medal is returned for safe-keeping to a Swiss bank vault or under the Honorary Treasurer’s mattress, whichever is considered the most secure. We know where the smart money is on that one.
The Jackson Medal was presented to the club in its inaugural year of 1890 by Major Randle Jackson of Swordale. Given the unlikely name, it is probably unnecessary to point out that the Swordale in question is near Evanton in Easter Ross, and not its namesake in Point. It is even less necessary to note, as has been done before, that the Jackson Medal silverware was donated by Randle Jackson and not by Randy Jackson, although that goes some way to explain why the medal is of intricate and artistic design rather than being a massive chunky piece of bling. Perhaps it would be wise to move on to the competition itself.
As is generally the case with the finals of Caledonian, Centenary and Jackson Medals, the best scores are posted by those who have not qualified for the final. Match and Handicap officials have to scour the lower reaches of the scoreboard to find someone who is actually entitled to the ten second viewing of the Medal. This year, George Macleod was the sheepish individual whose nett 72 looked for a long time as though it might be the winning score. To save George’s blushes, one of the final group of golfers on the course, Alasdair Maclean, had the decency to come in with nett 68 to snatch a late victory.
The calm conditions did encourage low scoring and some grasped that opportunity. Ken Galloway put together a superb round, his best of an impressive season. A couple of bogeys, one double bogey, one birdie on the Miller and fourteen pars contributed to a gross 71 (nett 63). Ken was keen to let his partners know that he had scored within a stroke of his age, although whether that means he is 64 or 72 years of age is not immediately clear.
D J Macleod also returned nett 63 courtesy of a level par round. Three birdies on the outward half helped offset a double bogey on the Heather and left him one over par; the inward half was completed in one under par, thanks in part to back to back birdies on the Ditch and Cup. That finish eased him ahead of Ken on countback, but both were eclipsed by Andy Murray, whose nett 63 was his lowest gross score of the year.
Andy has now seen his handicap tumble by three strokes in only ten outings this summer. Andy and Winter League partner Dave Macmillan are now playing off twelve fewer strokes compared to a year ago; whether or not that will be enough to stymie their defence of the title won in their inaugural year will be answered shortly. The Winter League commences on the last weekend of this month. Weather permitting, we should add.
The winner last weekend, on nett 62, was Al “Greens” Macleod, who also posted a gross score of level par. Despite losing a ball on the Gunsite, three birdies – on the Manor, Glen and Redan – took Al to the halfway point level par. Successive birdies on the Ranol and Caberfeidh ensured a level par inward half as Al completed his best round of the year on the last day of official competition.
The prize-giving was an excellent evening, capped by an entertaining speech by broadcaster and golfer Alan Tait. The Golfer of the Year was undoubtedly David Black, whose success means that he is mentioned in golf reports almost every week. Another name familiar from golf notes is Stuart Campbell and it was no surprise that the twelve stroke cut in his handicap made him Most Improved Golfer of the Year. Stuart also picked up the Galloway Aggregate Trophy with his best six round total of 377, five strokes clear of Griddy Macleod.
Amongst other season long events, Lewis Mackenzie won the Perry Eclectic competition with an eye-watering nett score of twenty-five under par. The ladies’ eclectic champion is Liz Carmichael, sixteen under par.