Any golfer who has spent the summer painstakingly reducing his handicap would have been well-advised to steer clear of the golf course last Wednesday. The combination of incessant rain and strong winds was a clear warning that trying to maintain a lower handicap would be a lost cause. Indeed, a number of golfers seemed to have realised their bleak prospects and the field for the Caledonian Medal final dwindled to a mere fourteen participants. Some of those who had made herculean efforts to qualify for the final eventually decided that staying indoors was a more sensible idea.
One golfer who ignored the omens was Kevin “Lava” Macleod. Kevin had a superb start to the season and had cut his handicap from 20 to 13.4 by the middle of June. Since these heady days, maintaining that excellent form has been a struggle and his handicap has crept back up towards 15. Even in the calm conditions of August, Kevin found it increasingly difficult to reach buffer zone. He is exactly the kind of golfer who should have been nowhere near a golf course last Wednesday.
Inexplicably, buffeted by the wind and lashed by rain, Kevin once again found his form. He reached the turn only three over par: a birdie on the Memorial helped him play the most difficult section of the course in level par. The back nine was a much more tense affair but Kevin held his nerve to post a superb nett 64 and equal his best ever gross total.
The score equalled by Kevin was made in winning the Western Isles Kidney Patients Association Trophy in June. Conditions on that day were idyllic and it is clear that the elements have little bearing on Kevin’s golf. He could teach a few others about shrugging off whatever nature throws up on the golf course. Nevertheless, it was a little startling last weekend to come across a TV programme (admittedly on the seldom viewed Channel 378) entitled Lava Showcase. Anyone expecting to see Kevin demonstrating how to play an iron approach shot in a monsoon would have been disappointed: the programme was simply a series of music videos.
Kevin’s score eclipsed everything else about the Caledonian Medal final but there were other sterling performances. Cal Robertson continued his midweek form in winning the Centenary Medal final to post yet another impressive score. His recent rounds generally follow the same pattern: Cal will drop a couple of strokes in the first three holes and then complete the round by giving a convincing impersonation of a scratch golfer. On this occasion, his nett 67 was enough to take a comfortable second place.
Ken Galloway’s excellent finish of level par over the final four holes, including a birdie on the Ditch, lifted him into third position.
The weekend event was the Tupper Cup, with its traditional, and arguably outdated, format as a bogey par competition. Basically, each individual golfer has a match play contest with the course. However, the introduction of a Competition Scratch Score (CSS) means that winning is often not enough to affect handicap. This year, the CSS gave the course a two hole start and that produced some anomalies in scoring. For example, Murdo O’Brien posted a score of nett 65 and had no handicap reduction to reward his efforts. By contrast, Alastair Macleod had an identical score and had a reduction, while Andrew Reeves managed a handicap cut with nett 67.
One competitor who has developed a habit of low scoring is Cal Robertson. He replicated his victory on the previous Saturday with another near flawless round. After dropping his customary two shots in the opening three holes, Cal picked up a birdie on the Gunsite to reach the turn in one over par. He then birdied the Memorial and Foresters before dropping a shot on the last for a level par total of 68. His nett score of 64 brought his handicap below 4 for the first time this year, while his total of 4 up against the course won him the competition.
Iain Morrison was also 4 up and took second place, losing out to Cal’s impressive inward half, while Murdie Macdonald completed the trio on 4 up in third position.
In the Ladies Section, only two competitors braved the atrocious conditions to contest the midweek medal event. Both put in creditable performances in the circumstances Donna Young won the competition, with Liz Carmichael two strokes behind in runner-up spot or last place, depending on how much spin you wish to put on her round.
Michael Jefferson has been runner up in the last five junior competitions. That statistic changed last weekend by the slimmest of margins. His nett 76 was matched by Adam Longdon, but Michael’s better inward half gave him victory in the medal competition.
This weekend is the men’s Lifeboat Spoon competition, while the ladies battle out the Saturday Medal final. The juniors contest the Ian Fraser Memorial Trophy.