GOLFERS HIT HOT STREAK IN THE SUNSHINE
Idyllic may be too strong a word but the latest qualifying round for the Centenary Medal was played in near perfect conditions. There was some sunshine, barely a breath of wind and not a midge in sight. It may be September before that sentence will be written again.
Only four competitors from a field of almost forty broke par. Helped by a birdie on the Redan, Peter Grant completed an excellent outward half of only five over par, which translated into 21 stableford points. And then something snapped. Peter used up most of what remained of his handicap in the next three holes and, despite an excellent finishing stretch, fourth place on 37 points will be a disappointment. Nevertheless, if he discounts the three poor holes (a practice at which most golfers are adept) there is a lot of encouragement for Peter on the next occasion he escapes from the North Sea.
John Morrison also posted 37 points after a round that showed plenty of promise, a steady inward half being enough to edge him into third position. When the ground is rock hard and greens are difficult to read, any score around nett par is welcome.
Marten James has possibly been mentioned more in the golf notes of the past month than in his spell as Club Captain and is probably very relieved that is the case. He took the runner-up spot with another excellent round despite some early teething problems. Once the first four holes were out of the way, Marten racked up the points and his final total of 38 brought another cut to his handicap allowance.
Chris Kelso would have been pleased with 19 points at the halfway stage but he surpassed that with another 22 by the finish. His total of 41 points took him well clear of the field and he cleaned up in the sweep. Chris requested that his winnings be paid in euros, as he jets off to Majorca next week; the unexpected boost to his finances will hopefully temper constant harassing of his fellow travellers for pocket money.
For every golfer complaining about how difficult the course was during the weekend qualifying round for the Jackson Medal, there was another playing in what was close to the best weather conditions of the summer. It was sunny, balmy and the only sound - apart from the occasional roar of frustration - was the birdsong.
Almost a quarter of the field of fifty posted scores below par, with most of those playing in the settled conditions of the afternoon and evening. Amongst those were two players, Michael Smith and Iain Mackay, recording their best scores of the season. For Iain Mackay, that came only three days after declaring that he did not believe he would ever play to his handicap again. We can all learn from Iain but, unfortunately, he will probably have no idea of what the secret is.
Donald DJ Macleod took fourth place with an excellent gross level par round which became nett 64 and his best round since last August. There were three birdies, on the Manor, Glen and Caberfeidh, and three bogeys in an impressive warm-up for the Island Games.
Two strokes better, Davie Carmichael celebrated his debut appearance of the season with the best round of his life. It was clearly his day in the sun; to cap it all, he appeared to have won a tidy sum from the slot machine afterwards. Gone is the maximum handicap allowance but Davie may soon have to turn to the slot machine as the only source of happiness around Lady Lever Park. That's the trouble with golf.
Another member of the Western Isles team heading to Gotland for the Island Games, Bryan Geddes, gave himself and the team a boost by taking second place with the lowest gross round of the day. Birdies on the Manor and Memorial helped him to a one over par total at the halfway point. He added another three birdies on the inward half, on the Whins, Caberfeidh and Foresters, to record a one under par gross round, edging out Davie Carmichael from the runner-up spot.
The weekend winner was Eddie Mackenzie with an outstanding nett 61. A birdie on the Glen helped settle him after the obligatory double bogey on the opening hole and Eddie reached the turn only four over par. Successive birdies on the Ditch and Cup and a final two pars sealed a memorable win.