Footballers have always had a close association with the game of golf. The current crop of Stornoway golfers is no different and has a substantial number of past and present football players. Those who are no longer able to run around – or, at the very least, give the appearance of running around – for ninety minutes are often cajoled into coaching or management roles.
Amongst other footballing legends in the the 43 teams contesting the latest episode of the Winter League last weekend were Magnus Johnson, who will be taking the Western Isles women’s football team to the Isle of Wight this summer for the World Island Games, and George Macaskill, who will be taking the Point Under 14 team to Back and beyond.
Conspicuous by his absence from the course at the weekend was one Stornoway member, Kenny Dalglish, who was instead pacing the touchline at another Merseyside derby. Kenny was wearing the haunted look that appears to be mandatory for Liverpool managers in recent times. We can only hope that the haunted look is replaced soon by the carefree and contented attitude he exuded a few months ago when hosting his RBS Bethesda Challenge tournament.
The outlook remains grim for Liverpool in the Premier League and, for some of the teams hacking their way around Stornoway last Saturday, grim is a fairly accurate description of their Winter League performance.
Strong winds and sharp showers wreaked havoc with many scores but those playing their rounds in the morning appeared to have adapted better to the tough conditions. Four teams of morning golfers were in the top five positions at the end of the day.
Ali Maclennan and Neil Macleod made up one of the pairings posting nett 42 for 8 scoring points. A double bogey and triple bogey in their first three holes seemed to have scuppered any hope of a good round but five consecutive pars steadied the round and put them back in the hunt. A par on the difficult Cup/Foresters to finish secured a share of third place and took them to fifth position in the overall competition.
With birdies on the Dardanelles and Ard Choille, Gordon Kennedy and Alasdair Maclean had the basis of a winning total, but a triple whammy of double bogeys pegged them back to nett 42.
Four pars in their opening six holes gave Huw Lloyd and Marten James a solid foundation for another impressive round. They built on that with a further five pars on the return leg in a performance that has boosted their overall challenge.
Second spot at the weekend went to a footballing family, with Malcolm and Scott Maciver returning nett 41 to collect 12 scoring points. A birdie on the Dardanelles offset two bogeys in their first six holes for a one over par total at the halfway stage. A further birdie on the Glen – a rare event on Saturday – helped towards a one over par inward half and that effort lifted them to seventh in the overall competition.
The weekend winners were Kenny John Macleod and John A Macdonald, one of only three teams playing in the afternoon to feature in the top ten placings on the day. As if being universally know as “Pongo and Jam” were not handicap enough, this pair still have a golfing handicap of nine. With that in mind, playing the first nine holes in only four over par put them in a challenging position. They immediately improved their prospects with a birdie on the Memorial and proved to be enough to take them one stroke clear of the field on nett 40 for 15 scoring points.
Sharath Shetty and Andrew Sim remain at the top of the leaderboard in the overall competition on 50 points, one ahead of David Black and Euan Morrison. A further shot adrift are Alistair and Allan Macleod, with Martyn Macleod and Graeme Tait in fourth place on 45 points.
With only nine points separating the top tens teams in the league, there is plenty of opportunity for change in the coming weeks. For those languishing further down the table, there are still eleven weeks to make an impact.
Tickets for the Burns Supper on 28 January will remain on sale this coming weekend. Given that the course has been closed on six of the last eight weekends, a little light relief is long overdue. Angus MacNeil MP, Donald John Smith and Liz Carmichael will be on hand to provide the entertainment.