Saturday 9am: with barely a breath of wind around, millions upon millions of midges are out on the hunt for breakfast. Apparently, they are attracted by emissions of carbon dioxide. Given that most golfers give off approximately 10% bluster and 90% hot air, there is no shortage of carbon dioxide on the golf course.
The most exasperating part of the morning plague was that at the time it was raining; this was no passing shower. It was teeming down and yet the midges appeared impervious to the huge drops of rain. Put in perspective, the impact on a midge caused by a raindrop must be similar to a golfer being struck by a large truck dropping out of the sky. How they survive is a mystery; not only is the weight of water enough to crush them but there is also a high possibility of drowning.
A year ago this week, the headline for the Golf Notes in the Stornoway Gazette was “Golfers Driven to Distraction by Midges”. Once again, history is repeating itself, even to the extent that David Black recorded exactly the same score as in last year’s competition. He had slightly more hair then but the same number of midge bites.
Midges have a tendency to congregate in areas where competitors often have most problems on the course – the tees on the Heather, Gunsite, Short and Dardanelles. However, last Saturday morning they were everywhere and did not clear until almost midday. Even then, it was only for a siesta and they were back to continue the torment by mid-afternoon.
One would think that the morning plague would be excuse enough for competitors to throw in the towel. Instead, it turned out to be the early golfers, liberally sprayed with every concoction of midge repellant, who topped the leaderboard in the Glennie Trophy.
Cal Robertson was the fly in the ointment, so to speak. His afternoon round of gross 69 was built around a purple patch of three successive birdies on the Heather, Memorial and Redan. That translated into 39 stableford points for competition purposes but it was only enough for third place.
The runner up was Peter Dickie, whose steady round also brought 39 points. However, Peter’s 19 points on the back nine was enough to edge ahead of Cal.
The winner was Garry Murray with 41 points, or nett 63 for those who simply cannot understand the points system. A birdie on the Manor helped him reach the halfway point only one over par, no mean feat for a golfer with a handicap of 13. Despite a wobble on the back nine, a strong finish of two straight pars kept him clear of his challengers.
The midweek event was also held in stableford format. As is usual in the final of Centenary Medal competition, those who have not qualified and are playing under no pressure whatsoever have a habit of returning the best scores. Two of the three participants who managed to amass 39 points were non-qualifiers. Iain Macleod was one of those, although standing at seven over par after only five holes that points total may have seemed highly unlikely. Birdies on the Gunsite, Whins and Ditch helped his recovery, ensuring he dropped only one shot over the last thirteen holes.
Neil Morrison was also a non-qualifier but, had it not been for a double bogey on the last hole, his birdies on the Redan and Short would have given him victory on the day. His 39 points were matched by Cal Robertson, who qualified for the final away back in April.
After a disappointing Club Championship, Cal is now playing his most consistent golf of the season, returning under par gross scores on his last four outings. On this occasion, a birdie on the Heather took him to the turn one over par and further birdies on the Caberfeidh and Miller were enough to give him the Centenary Medal by the slimmest of margins.
When Donald John Smith holed a putt for birdie on the Ditch, he was on 33 points with three holes left. However, he could not find the inspiration needed and had to settle for runner up spot.
The ladies’ weekend medal competition was won by Ann Galbraith, who is proving almost unbeatable at the moment. Saturday saw her third victory in succession, although this time Rita MacDonald matched Ann’s total, losing out only on the inward total. This was Rita’s first Stornoway outing of the season and had the bonus of a birdie on the Gunsite.
Adam Longdon was once again the winner in the Junior Section, this time coming in 3 points ahead of Michael Jefferson in their stableford event.