Just as the cuckoo heralds the arrival of Spring, there are signals for golfers of the impending summer season. One sign is the appearance of the new club diary; a second is a sighting of the five-bellied Kenny Maciver in the vicinity of the Golf Club; and a third is former club captain Norrie ‘Tomsh’ Macdonald shedding his sombre winter coat and transforming into his brilliant summer plumage.
Two of the signs are already there. The club diary is now available and Norrie was spotted in a powder blue number last weekend. Kenny Maciver will not be far away.
The imminent arrival of summer golf means that serious preparation will already be underway, as competitors seek that elusive game improvement that will turn them into scratch golfers. Some of us will try to buy improvement by throwing money at a set of new clubs. Those more careful with their cash might splash out on some new golf balls promising a bewildering array of benefits ranging from greater spin and increased distance to higher trajectory and softer feel. Of course, the uncomfortable truth is that all those magnificent attributes can take effect only after the ball is struck. And actually hitting the ball is another problem entirely.
Most of us will try to read our way to better golf. In the lists of bestselling books, the favourite topics have long been cats, golf and Nazism. The humourist Alan Coren once tried to cash in this phenomenon by publishing a book entitled Golfing for Cats, with a swastika emblazoned on the front cover. For those golfers who have reached the end of a very long tether, even that book may be worth purchasing.
Before we are swept into summer, there is the small matter of the Winter League to be concluded. Some teams bowed out of contention last weekend, but the competition remains finely balanced. Only ten points separate the leading 11 teams and, with two weeks left to play, any one of 25 teams could still win.
Last Saturday, the winning pairing made the most of their 15 scoring points to jump from twenty sixth place overall to ninth position. Neil Maciver and Chris Macleod have somehow maintained a handicap of ten and that, combined with an outstanding round of only three over par, took them four strokes clear of the field on net 42. Three bogeys on the tough opening six gave them every chance of a good score and that was confirmed by a level par inward half, including a birdie on the Redan.
Two teams tied for second place on net 46. Both have greatly improved their chances of a late charge for the CarHire Hebrides Trophy. Jamie Duncan and George Macaskill continued their good form of recent weeks with another solid performance. A birdie on the Long Caberfeidh took them to the turn only one over par and they consolidated with another three consecutive pars on the back six. The bonus of a birdie on the Short was undone by a double bogey finish bur their score was still enough to give Jamie and George 11 scoring points to bring their tally for the past fortnight to 27.
Murdie Macdonald and Ian Macritchie must have felt a good day was in prospect after opening their account with par on the castle and Dardanelles. They reached halfway only two over par. The excellent return leg was a steady procession of five consecutive pars and a birdie to finish on the Manor. They have now climbed to fourth spot in the league table.
From a field of over forty teams, the demanding course layout restricted the numbers posting under par scores to eight, although perhaps that should include the performance of Kevin Macrae, with a superb solo round of gross 48. His handicap took him to net 50 but his was the lowest gross round of the day.
The position at the top of the overall Winter League standings remained unchanged, with Sharath Shetty and Andrew Sim still tied for the lead on 82 points with David Black and Euan Morrison. Ken Galloway and John Macleod are in third position, two points behind the leaders.
Murdie Macdonald and Ian Macritchie have moved up to fourth, courtesy of their weekend points haul, on 78 points, one ahead of Al and Allan Macleod, who picked up a precious scoring point last weekend. Similarly, Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie collected a single weekend point but it was not enough to prevent them slipping a position to sixth place on 75 points.
Arthur Macintosh picked up a point with his solo performance and that has helped him and father Dougie into joint seventh place alongside Richard Galloway and Cal Robertson on 73 points. Stephen Moar and David “Kiwi” Macleod remain one point behind, tied with Murdo and Peter O’Brien.