DAVID ITCHING FOR SCRATCH
There is always a risk in holding a competition in late May and calling the prize the Summer Cup. However, there is nothing quite like optimism and, this year, that optimism was well founded. Unusually, summer lasted for the whole day; the competition began in sunshine and the last participants finished their rounds under the glare of the setting sun. In fact, summer lasted until the weekend, with the latest qualifying round for the Jackson Medal being completed just before the large drops of rain signalled the end of a prolonged spell of excellent weather that has made the course firm under foot and reintroduced the colour green to fairways and thickening rough.
The conditions in midweek brought the prospect of low scoring and, although that was justified in some cases, for most of the field it was business as usual. Business as usual generally manifests itself in a poor start, followed by some tantalising play until exhaustion and lack of concentration bring the round to a stuttering and disappointing end. The low scoring was provided by half a dozen competitors, four of whom posted nett 66.
Despite opening with a triple bogey, most of Pat Aird's best golf was played in an otherwise excellent outward half, as he recorded his best score of the season. It was a similar story for Bryan Geddes, whose birdies on the Manor and Redan helped him compile a one under par outward half.
David Black also had an excellent level par first half but that was eclipsed by a one under par back nine, which included birdies on the Dardanelles and Cup. The final player to post nett 66 was Huw Lloyd, a score made even more impressive by the fact that he was already four over par after his first hole. Six par holes on the inward half lifted him above the others into third position.
One stroke better, John M Morrison took the runner-up spot with a solid round and his best performance to date.
Dave Gilmour put together an impressive front nine, a birdie on the Manor ensuring a two over par total. When there was a slip on the inward half - a double bogey on the Dardanelles - Dave responded by bagging successive birdies on the next two holes. His nett 63 brought Dave his first silverware of the season in the shape of the Summer Cup.
A field of over fifty contested the weekend Jackson Medal qualifying round in glorious conditions but only half a dozen competitors broke par. Peter Grant recorded a season's best nett 66, thanks in no small part to back-to-back birdies on the Ranol and Caberfeidh. He was pipped for third place by Arthur Macintosh, who matched his score and was putting together a superb inward half - including a birdie on the Dardanelles - until a double bogy on the final hole took some of the gloss off what has been a fine recent run of form.
And then there was David Black, who has been in outstanding form in the past fortnight. Another round strewn with birdies and a host of near misses resulted in a gross (and nett) 65 and second position. For the record, there were birdies on the Manor, Heather, Dardanelles, Caberfeidh and Avenue. David is already playing off a zero handicap allowance but, with an exact handicap of 0.1, he is now within a hair’s breadth of scratch golf.
The honours on Saturday were taken by the oldest playing member at Stornoway Golf Club. Sandy Bruce celebrated playing in his 62nd season at the Club with a steady outward half and, when it required nerves of steel to bring a promising round to completion, Sandy played out the last seven holes in only one over par.
The Junior Medal played over nine holes proved to be a shoot-out between Joe O'Loughlin and Euan Anderson. Euan picked up 21 stableford points but it was Joe who won the event with a superb 23 points.
This weekend there are a number of options for keen golfers. The main event of the day on Saturday is the County Championship which, this year, is being hosted by Harris Golf Club. Given the huge workload that is required to maintain the golf course at this time of year and ensure that it is presented at its best for next month's Golf Week, the Greenkeepers' Benefit competition, played across all sections at Stornoway this weekend, deserves every support.