The key to success in the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League is almost certainly dovetailing, that uncanny knack of one partner salvaging a score when the other is posted missing. That knack had eluded Kevin "Lava" Macleod and Noman Morrison until last weekend when, inexplicably, everything fell into place. Kevin held the partnership together for the first few holes and, when he ran out of steam, Norman rolled in a long putt for par on the Castle.
Kevin took over again before Norman scrambled a par on the final hole for a nett 41, three under par. The performance earned the pair their first points of the campaign and an indication of how simple the game can be when both partners manage to play synchronised golf.
One player with no interest whatsoever in dovetailing at the moment is Donald John Mackenzie. He picked up three points for his nett 41, the second time in a few weeks that he has scored points in the absence of partner James Kearns. Who knows what damage will be done when his partner appears again.
It was clearly a day for discovering dovetailing. Four of the seven teams on nett 41 were awarded points for the first time this season. One stroke better, Graham Morrison and Stuart Campbell also opened their Winter League account with seven points.
There were first points of the season too for the team in fourth place. Liam McGeoghegan and Robert Rankin racked up five successive pars before completing the outward half with a birdie on the Foresters. The two pars that followed only served to make their triple bogey on the Heather even more bewildering. Fortunately, Liam and Bob recovered with two more par holes and finished with nett 39 for eight points.
David Gray and Gordon Kennedy made an impressive start to their round but dropped shots on the last two holes of the outward half. That was forgotten with five pars and a birdie, on the Short, in an impressive inward half. The result was a nett 38, which brought David and Gordon a welcome eleven points.
Their nett 38 was matched by Darren Beattie and David "Spider" Macleod. A birdie on their second hole, the Manor, set them up for a fine round. Level par at the halfway point, Darren and Dave made par on each of the remaining holes for a share of the runner-up spot.
Once again, the winning team was well clear of the field. Iain Macleod and Norman L Macdonald opened with three par holes and followed that with a birdie on the Ditch. They reached halfway one under par and, with the comfort of a seven stroke handicap allowance, might have been expected to play safe for the remainder of the round. Instead, with Iain Macleod in imperious form, they went on to notch two more birdies, on the Heather and Short. Three under par gross, Iain and Norman posted nett 34 for a comfortable victory and fifteen points.
Interestingly, all of the top four teams last weekend began their rounds on the Castle. Those of a superstitious nature can now improve their chances of points by following suit. As we should all know by now, ability comes a poor second to superstitious behaviour in amateur golf. How many rounds have been ruined by golfers forgetting to bring their favourite cap, glove or lucky towel to the course?
In the overall Winter League table, David Gray and Gordon Kennedy have improved to 22 points, sharing seventh spot with Angus Innes and Lewis Mackenzie.
Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie remain in sixth position but have improved to 24 points, three adrift of Donald "Sweeney" Macsween and Willie Macaulay. Iain Moir and Pete Middleton are in fourth place on 28 points.
Iain Morrison and Andrew Reeves remain in the runner-up position on 32 points but have now been joined by Iain Macleod and Norman L Macdonald. Iain and Norman are the in form partnership at the moment, having won two of the last three rounds and having picked up 32 points during that period.
The league leaders, Michael and David Black, are still comfortably ahead on 44 points.
There are now just two rounds of the Winter League remaining in 2016. Sandwiched between the two is this year's Ken MacDonald & Co sponsored TeXmas Scramble, which takes place on Christmas Eve. There are still slots available on the entry sheet on the notice-board of the men's locker room.