XMAS FINALLY ARRIVES ON THE GOLF COURSE
Amongst the criticisms aimed at President Donald Trump is one that resonates with some of his distant relatives in Lewis. He plays golf too much. The President clearly appreciates that, in golf, the most important factor is not so much how you play but rather how often you play.
For his lowly relatives on this side of the Atlantic, the problem recently is that the weather has conspired to make playing golf almost impossible. At his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, the President will be unfamiliar with wind, rain, ice and snow in the quantities that have swept through the Western Isles during the past fortnight.
After another Friday with its usual torrential showers of part rain and part hail, it came as quite a shock on a cold Saturday morning to receive a text alert that the course in Stornoway was open. The fact that the competition was the Ken MacDonald & Co sponsored TeXmas Scramble, being played around three weeks after its original scheduled date, gives some indication of how often the course has been open over the festive period.
Even the traditional New Year’s Day competition for the Hangover Trophy became a victim of weather conditions; those golfers who stoically remained sober on Hogmanay in the hope of picking up the first trophy of 2018 discovered it had all been in vain. Those who took the more festive approach to the festive period are probably unsure of whether or not the competition for the Hangover Trophy was played and unaware of whether or not they actually participated.
On what turned out to be a calm, dry day, over eighty golfers competed in the TeXmas Scramble. The idyllic conditions ensured low scoring, with close to half the teams posting nett scores of eight under par or better.
In an effort to avoid having multiple teams tied on the same score, handicap allowances were calculated to two decimal places. However, as with the best laid schemes of mice and men, this one also went agley. Two teams shared third place with an unlikely identical nett score of 33.19. Paul Moorby, Iain Macleod, John Collins and Norman L Macdonald opened their round with two birdies, on the hybrid Dardanelles/Ranol and Short Dardanelles. Six par holes followed before birdies on the Glen and Avenue gave them a four under par gross total.
Eddie Mackenzie, Peter Dickie, Sandy Bruce and Mick Butterworth began their round with a par on the Avenue and then proceeded to birdie the next five holes. A costly bogey on the Ard Choille was immediately matched by a birdie on the Short Miller and the team played out the remaining holes in level par for a five under par gross total.
George Macleod, George Mould, Tom Danks and Malky Macrae took the runner-up spot with a nett score of 33.12. They also posted a five under par total but a marginally better handicap allowance lifted them into second place. If the difference between third and second was minimal, the difference between second and first was emphatic.
David Black, Michael Black, Bryan Geddes and Euan Morrison simply blew away the opposition. They were five under par on the outward half and three under on the inward half. Their eight under par total equals the lowest gross score in the history of the TeXmas Scramble. A generous handicap allowance brought their nett score to 31.31 and a comfortable margin of victory.
There were plenty of feel-good tales amongst the other teams participating. Cal Robertson, Richard Galloway, Pat Aird and Arthur Macintosh endured the frustration of only one birdie in their first seven holes. That all evaporated after birdies on each of their final five holes for a gross total of six under par. This was the second lowest gross score of the day but their nett 33.50 was only good enough for a share of fifth place.
Darren Beattie, Neil Clayton, Donnie Graham and Marten James went through a purple patch, picking up an eagle on the Dardanelles/Ranol and following that with successive birdies on the next two holes. Unfortunately, par golf was the best they managed for the remainder of their round, finishing on 33.50.
The event was rounded off with a buffet and thanks are due to the Club staff for an excellent spread. This weekend, we return to a diet of Winter League, with any one of nine pairings poised to challenge Andy Macdonald and Neil Rowlands at the top of the leader-board.