Another weekend without golf and with not much prospect of a let up in the weather, or indeed the frozen conditions of the courses locally, any respite would appear to be on a very distant horizon indeed. The notion of strolling the fairways on balmy summer evenings (see the memory is already playing tricks with me), playing until eleven o’clock at night in a t-shirt or even worrying about the midges , is one that will hopefully return, but not, alas, anytime soon.
With round two of the sledging, albeit with a slightly diminished field, tearing up a green and several fairways last Sunday past, any passing golfer witnessing dozens of folk enjoying themselves at Lady Lever Park must have felt a little jealous in the extreme.
With a little thaw and some rain turning the “Winter Wonderland” scene of the previous weekend into something a little greyer, wetter and muddier; the record downhill times of round one were hard to repeat and it may take further snowfall to separate the weekly contestants.
Despite our own version of the Cresta Run now resembling a trail-bike scrambling course, we are confident that mother-nature will take care of the regeneration of the affected areas and that our own greenkeepers can manage the rest.
It is good to see so many folk taking advantage of our slopes and we encourage them to have as much fun as possible. Please just remember that there is a golf-course underneath.
It was reported to me that golf had apparently been attempted in the snow and on the Sabbath recently.
It couldn’t possibly have been any of the membership of the club who are all fully aware of the bye-laws and the current impasse between us and the Stornoway Trust.
Surely it wasn’t some misguided souls looking to attempt to highlight the apparent ambiguity of having hundreds of folk able to use the course for anything but golf on a Sunday?
We realise that these are testing times for all golfers, let alone Stornoway golfers, but they need to realise that the only reason that the flags remain on the course when it is covered in snow is for the slalom racing.
It would seem churlish at this juncture to point out that it seems increasingly obvious that whilst every other form of recreation is permissible on Trust land on the Lord’s Day, apparently there is something about golf which is anomalous to the “situation”.
It must be somewhere in the good book: I’ll keep on asking and looking.
Some folk are, however, determined to have their “fix” and but for working on Saturday morning I would surely have joined them. The usual posse’ from Stornoway ventured down to a blustery Scarista for eighteen holes in a wind-chill of minus three but this was never going to detract from their enjoyment of the day. Al Greens and winter league partner Alan MacLeod, along with Murdo “Hollo” MacLennan and Cal Robertson are rumoured to have “blitzed” the course.
Having just watched a Discovery feature on the darkest days of 1940’s London, I trust that Hugh and Donald will not be sending me a bill for repairs.
If Stornoway golfers appear somewhat unhinged by their efforts to get a game; below is Ralph Thompson’s report of the goings-on at Askernish.
Typical! The first year we attempt to play a winter league and the snow arrives at the end of November. Undeterred Paddy, Donald and Ralph braved the elements at the weekend and managed to get ten holes in.. Madness or just frustration at not getting our weekly dose of the "lashing of the sticks" - probably a bit of both.
On the tenth of January our new Askernish Development Manager starts employment with the main brief to get as many players as possible to come and appreciate the links and the beauty and culture of the Western Isles. One of our priorities has been to promote all the golf courses within the islands and to try and create a Western Isles tour. Having a full time marketing person should help to raise the profile of all of our courses. John Kemp from Orkney who has been awarded the post, already has experience in working with isolated golf courses, and indeed golf courses around the globe, is keen to tap into the central Scotland market which could bring players from this region to the Hebrides in greater numbers. We will make sure that John keeps contact with all the clubs in the islands so everybody can benefit from his expertise. Thanks must go to Leader, HIE and Visit Scotland for grant assisting the costs of the post.
We look forward to working with all other clubs in the Hebrides to make John’s work a success.
At this time of year it is difficult to ascertain what, exactly, is going on, on the mainland, and how we would fare if similarly affected. There is, apparently, a demand for the government to hold an “enquiry” into the weather. With last year’s “enquiry” still ongoing and its results as yet unpublished, I can’t help but wonder how the absence of common sense would appear to be the only thing one can predict with any certainty.
It is “unusual” because global weather patterns are changing. Global warming does not mean Santa in a string vest on Christmas day. It is difficult to deal with because, outwith Cockbridge-Timintoul , there has never been too much of a necessity to deal with the quantities of snow we have experienced recently. It snowed, it thawed, it disappeared and we got on with it. People ask how Canada, Russia and Norway cope with their default winter weather status. They expect it, they have been getting it for centuries and they have the infrastructure to cope with it and let people get on with their daily lives.
It doesn’t come as any surprise to them and we’d probably better start getting used to it as well.
All this doesn’t help anyone wishing to play golf in the region. The only thing that would be of any use would be under-soil heating or hot air blowers. The cost of the under-soil heating should easily be seen by H.I.E. as being of huge potential benefit to the area; after all, think of the millions they have thrown at dafter, less sustainable projects. Failing this I know where there is an inexhaustible supply of hot air. (we know too….ed!)
Harnessing it may be the only problem. Some folk I know have several active projects in this field. It’s bound to be a winner. Trust me on this one.