The return of settled mild weather after Christmas brought a welcome end to seven day sporting activity on the golf course. The only reminders of sledging are now the abandoned upturned car bonnets and other debris strewn across the course. Like addicts greedy for a fix, the more desperate golfers managed to compete in four competitions over the space of six days.
The most important event was the latest round of the Winter League. The arctic weather ensured that this was only the seventh week of competition; it would be difficult to find another year when so little golf could be played. In 2010, the months of January and December were almost entirely devoid of any competitive golf but, having waved farewell to that year, 2011 seemed an exciting prospect. That was the case until around 4pm last Monday, by which time many golfers realised that nothing had changed.
Those who did greet the new year in style included three teams returning nett 40 and collecting ten scoring points apiece. Chris Kelso and Kenny Maclean began their round with a birdie on the Ard Choille and reached the turn one over par. Three straight pars to finish gave them an impressive total of gross 48.
Ian Macleod and Norman L Macdonald are proving to be a potent combination when they manage to compete together. A birdie on the Memorial was spoilt by a double bogey on the Short Caber but, like Chris Kelso and Kenny Maclean, their outward half was completed in one over par. A similar back six, with a birdie on the Short Dardanelles, made for a gross 48 total.
George Macleod and George Mould faced the more challenging conditions of the morning but their round was ignited by back to back birdies on the Short Gunsite and Short Dardanelles for a level par first half. The inward half was a struggle but they held on for a nett 40 and their first scoring points of the competition.
The winners also came from the morning starters. After an uncomfortable opening, which included a double bogey on the Glen, Chris Macleod and Neil Maciver recovered with birdies on the Memorial and Short Caber. With a handicap of eleven, they dropped only two shots to par on the back six holes for a superb nett 38 and fifteen scoring points.
The overall table sees little change at the top, where Sharath Shetty and Andrew Sim lead with 48 points, one ahead of David Black and Euan Morrison. Allan and Alastair Macleod are a further shot adrift, ahead of Graeme Tait and Martyn Macleod on 45 points.
The Prime Minister described the recent Ashes victory as “a great late Christmas present for the country”. Sadly, he would be unable to lavish such gushing praise on the Country team that was soundly beaten by Stornoway in the annual match between the coves and the maws. The Town were missing the talent of Kevin Macrae and the unquestioned driving prowess of Griddy Macleod and had to requisition a couple of maws to complete a team. One of the recruits was Norrie Tomsh Macdonald, who perhaps needs reminding that hanging around a taxi rank in Stornoway touting for business does not make you a townie. Inspired by an excellent nett 40 from Ken Galloway, the Town took control of the match from the outset and eventually ran out winners by over twenty strokes.
Another old score settled last week was that between the over 60s in the club and their younger rivals. James Hood and Murdie Macdonald both posted nett 42 for the seniors, a score matched by the youthful Cal Robertson and Stephen Moar. Thereafter, the pace was too hot for the seniors and the younger generation posted a total of 452 for a victory by 24 strokes.
Ken Galloway proved that a sore head is no handicap when he continued his fine form of the week by winning the Hangover Trophy with 30 stableford points on New Year’s Day.
Off the course, one event certain to beat the weather is the annual Burns Supper, to be held on 28 January at the Golf Club. Members and non-members are welcome to attend and tickets are available from the Club. MP Angus Macneil and Donald John Smith are the main speakers. There can be few better ways of supporting the Club and no better value means of being fed, watered and entertained. And the added bonus is that someone else does all of the associated chores.