There are many ways of gaining an unfair advantage illegally in golf. The rules of play may be simple but their interpretation can often lead to players breaching the rules inadvertently.
One of the simplest rules is that a player may carry no more than fourteen clubs during a competitive round. While that may be restrictive for professionals, it generally makes very little difference to the club golfer whether he has four or fourteen clubs in his bag. There is plenty of evidence to support the view that a club to hit the ball quite a long way, a club to hit it a short distance and a putter should be sufficient equipment for most golfers.
The ladies added to the mass of evidence with their midweek Olsen Tankard competition, in which the number of clubs carried was restricted to five. Ann Galbraith took third place, equalling her best score of the year and recording her first birdie of the season. Donna Young was runner up on nett 71, twelve strokes better than her previous outing, when she had the bewildering choice of fourteen clubs. The clear winner was Mary Joyce, whose nett 68 was not only her lowest score of the year but possibly her lowest since the last five club competition. There is a lesson there for all golfers as they cram the maximum permitted number of clubs into their bags, along with forty golf balls, two hundred tees, four pencils, three pitch mark repairers, two ball markers and a partridge in a pear tree.
Mary Joyce completed a good week with a win in the Saturday medal qualifier with a nett 73, edging out Jane Nicolson by one shot.
One professional golfer who recently suffered the humiliation of suspension for gaining an unfair advantage illegally was in the news again last weekend. Lloyd Saltman was punished for marking his ball nearer to the hole than its true position on a number of occasions during the Russian Challenge Cup last year. Last weekend, he made two holes in one on the same hole, the 211 yard 17th at Celtic Manor in the opening and closing rounds of the Wales Open. It was a feat last achieved on the professional circuit some twenty years ago.
It may not have been on quite the same level, but Peter O’Brien accomplished the remarkable feat for a pensioner of consecutive twos on the Short and Whins during last Saturday’s Jackson medal qualifying event. Peter has spent most of this season trapped in charge of the renovation work at the clubhouse and it was good to see him allowed out for some fresh air. His nett 67 was an excellent return but, on a day when the sun shone and the wind relented slightly, it was only enough to make the top ten.
A younger O’Brien, Murdo, took third place with nett 63. His seemingly relentless slide to a handicap of 5 and more was halted in midweek and then reversed at the weekend, courtesy of an excellent level par round with three birdies, on the Manor, Ard Choille and Caberfeidh. Despite nett 63 being the lowest total of the day, Murdo was pushed into third place by two better inward halves.
Roddy Martin marked the return of better weather with his best round for a long time. His back nine of three over par took him clear of Murdo O’Brien but he fell short of the winning mark.
Arthur Macintosh secured his victory with an outstanding inward half. Having reached the turn four over par, Arthur was looking to record an ordinary score by his standards. Instead, birdies on the Dardanelles, Caberfeidh and Miller contributed to a one under par back nine and his best total of the year. His performance was all the more creditable as it came less than twenty four hours after Arthur, playing alongside Pat Aird, suffered a crushing defeat on the first extra hole at the hands of the Gillies twins in the Consolation Cup. Lack of space unfortunately precludes a detailed match report.
The first round of competition for the Neil Morrison Trophy is one of the most eagerly anticipated and keenly contested events of the season. This year, the adverse weather took its toll on the field. There were, nevertheless, some outstanding performances. John Sommerville played his best golf of the season by some distance in very difficult conditions and was rewarded with a nett 62. That was two strokes better than Norrie “Onions” Macdonald, whose gross 66 was the leading scratch score. Birdies on the Manor and Memorial helped towards a level par first half, and Norrie then turned the screw with further birdies on the Whins, Ranol and Foresters to complete his round two under par. A first round lead of seven strokes makes it very difficult for the opposition in the scratch competition.
Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald was probably more surprised than anyone that he should be his namesake’s closest challenger in the scratch competition and his score was largely built on a superb front nine. He also picked up birdies on the Manor and Memorial to reach the turn in only one over par. Despite a couple of blips, a birdie on the Ranol gave him third place on nett 66.
This week sees the first Texas Scramble of the year and it is in support of the Island Games Golf Team. The members of the team are all Stornoway golfers and the Scramble prizes on offer, apparently obtained at gunpoint by fundraiser and team captain Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald, are well worth competing for. The format comprises teams of four, with a generous handicap allowance. Anyone wishing to enter but not already a member of a team should simply add their name to the entry sheet.