The untimely passing of Severiano Ballesteros last weekend was sad news for a generation of golfers inspired by the Spaniard. His swashbuckling style, highly charged emotional play and free spirit were infectious and Seve became the catalyst for a renaissance in European golf. Many of those now leading the professional rankings cite Seve as the golfer who first enthused them. Club golfers also found a role model in a player who often played his second shot on any hole from somewhere other than the fairway.
It was a week of momentous events. There was the end of Osama bin Laden, with death and funeral arrangements completed in such a short time that there was a general suspicion that Al Crae was somehow involved. The SNP won an overall majority in Scottish Parliament elections under a system specifically designed to prevent any one party achieving an overall majority. Rangers FC was purchased by businessman Craig Whyte for the princely sum of £1.
Griddy Macleod, newly returned from Amsterdam, had great difficulty in finding sterling currency to pay his £3 entry fee for the midweek competition. Had he and his playing partners known the true position at Ibrox, undoubtedly they would have pooled their resources and easily outbid Craig Whyte. That offer would have given Ally McCoist the added bonus of around £7 to bolster the squad with some summer signings.
On the course, there were some significant happenings. The Trades Cup, as the name suggests, is played for by teams of four representing their respective trade or profession. The winning team is decided by taking the aggregate of the best three nett scores. Under the fairly optimistic title of Education, a team of teachers were this year’s winners. The oldest team member, Peter Dickie, led by example, with a superb opening nine holes played in one over par. That form continued until someone rang the bell on the Dardanelles when, as is often the case, the sound of a bell ringing coincided with a loss of concentration by Peter. Nevertheless, he completed his round in nett 64. David Gray chimed in with his best round of the season, a nett 66 comprising ten pars and eight bogeys. The remaining team members were amongst the last to complete their rounds. Donald John Smith posted a creditable nett 71 before Eddie Rogers ensured victory with an excellent round of one birdie, five bogeys and twelve pars for a nett 63.
Their aggregate total of 193 was enough to win by two strokes from the pensioners representing the Leisure Industry. The runners up did have the consolation of the leading score on the day, with James Hood returning a nett 61. There were other striking individual displays, the most notable by Norrie “Onions” Macdonald, whose haul of five birdies gave him a gross total of 65 (nett 63) and reduced his handicap to 1.2, where he joins Colin Macritchie as the lowest handicapped golfers in the Western Isles.
The glorious weather ensured a large field for the midweek Bain Morrison Shield. Four players shared the winning total of nett 65. Eddie Rogers gave a preview of the form that he showed at the weekend with his nett 65; Kevin “Lava” Macleod once again defied golfing logic to earn a further reduction in handicap; and Neil Morrison put in his best performance of the season. None of the three could match the back nine performance of the winner, Peter Grant. With the numbers 9 and 7 already on his card from the opening half, Peter put in a sterling performance on the home leg to pick up his first trophy of the year.
The crystal ball has been despatched to the dustbin, its magic now clearly exhausted. John R Gillies and Pete Middleton failed to shine last week despite all the optimistic predictions. However, it should be mentioned that, after a season plagued by disappointment, both managed buffer zone in each of their four rounds of the week. Although perhaps not worthy of the description of magic, that achievement was certainly in the realms of the unexpected.
In the Ladies Section, Liz Carmichael followed the example of Donna Young a fortnight ago by winning both weekly competitions. Mary Joyce was nudged into second place by a single stroke in the midweek Medal competition, while Jan Maclennan signalled her arrival in Stornoway this year by taking second spot in the Saturday Medal event.
In the Junior Section, Adam Longdon has taken a substantial lead after the first round of the race for the Kenneth Mackenzie Jubilee Trophy. His round of nett 62 also reduced his handicap by two strokes.
It is worth reminding golfers of upcoming events taking place within the next month. Ullapool Golf Club hosts the match against Stornoway next weekend, while Harris Golf Club is the venue for this year’s County Championship. Entry forms are still available for both events, while those wishing to take part in the visit to Golspie Golf Club should ensure that they submit their names within the next ten days.