HIGH WINDS, LOW SCORES
Despite the fact that it had no name, the weather system that passed through Lewis last Saturday had some very strong winds. When the weather is making such an effort to disrupt life, it seems quite rude not to acknowledge that with a name. The 2017 storms of the West Atlantic and Caribbean are now heading towards the letter "P" (Hurricane Philippe, to be precise), while we are trailing well behind in the stormy alphabet, still waiting for Caroline to put in an appearance.
With gusts in excess of 40mph - and there was very little lull between the gusts - followed by blinding rain, the least we could have done was christen the weekend blast Anna Bheag, to signify that it was local and that it really didn't amount to much. Storm Barabal will be along any minute.
The weather should have played havoc with scoring in the latest round of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League. It certainly did for some of us, who found it impossible to reach the green on the 350 yard fourth hole with less than three mighty blows into the teeth of the wind. Even when the wind was assisting, judging distance was difficult. Nevertheless, with the starting score for points being awarded at nett 48, one under par, it is clear that quite a number of teams made light of the conditions.
From a personal point of view, it was encouraging to see a number of golfers who were wearing waterproof socks amongst the top ranked teams, underlining the indisputable point that dry feet improve golfing performance.
Two pairings posted nett 45, each picking up eleven points. Pete Middleton and Iain Moir opened with a bogey on the Miller but then reeled off seven par holes. Bogeys on the Dardanelles and Redan were quickly redressed by birdies on their final two holes, the Gunsite and Long Caberfeidh, as Pete and Iain recorded a creditable one over par gross total.
Like many teams, Angus Innes and Lewis Mackenzie found the opening three holes of the Miller, Glen and Heather particularly testing against the westerly wind. They were two over par at that stage and that was exactly how they were placed at the halfway point. Consecutive birdies on the first two holes of their inward half, the Avenue and Castle, took Angus and Lewis back to level par and, despite a bogey on the Dardanelles, a wind-assisted birdie on the Gunsite helped them post an excellent level par round.
Impressive as that was, it was eclipsed by the performance of Andy Macdonald and Neil Rowlands. They had the perfect start with an eagle on the Avenue. A bogey on the Dardanelles served only to inspire them to successive birdies on the Redan and Gunsite and Andy and Neil turned for home three under par. There was one more birdie, on the Memorial, while a string of par holes gave Andy and Neil a gross total of 45, four under par. Their meagre handicap allowance of one stroke was enough to lift them clear of the field, collecting fifteen points for their second win in the last three weeks.
Unsurprisingly, Andy and Neil dominate the overall Car Hire Hebrides Winter League leaderboard. They now have 35 points, ten ahead of their closest challengers. For those in awe of a partnership that can take the course apart in tough conditions, there is one consolation. Andy and Neil will now have to add two strokes to their gross score for the foreseeable future; we assume that will be a setback that allows other pairings to make some inroads into that sizeable lead.
In second place, Arthur Macintosh and Pat Aird dovetailed perfectly at the weekend. On the rare occasions that Arthur found himself in difficulty, Pat salvaged par. The result was that Arthur and Pat posted nett 47, picking up five points to take their aggregate total to 25 points.
Allan "Biddley" Macleod and Al "Greens" Macleod also earned five points at the weekend to take their total to 19. It was an identical story for John Cunningham and Scott Maciver and the two pairings now share third spot.
The top five positions are completed by Norrie "Tomsh" Macdonald and Murdo Maclennan, whose two weekend points takes their aggregate total to 18.
Around two thirds of the teams participating have now scored points, promising a closely fought campaign.
Finally, a polite but blunt telegram message: Prize-giving next weekend. Return trophies immediately.