When the camera pans along the substitutes bench during a football or rugby match, do you ever wonder what the substitutes are thinking? Some will no doubt be thinking of what else they could usefully be doing other than warming a seat in the dug-out. Some will be making plans for what they will do immediately the game ends. One would hope that they will all be willing their team to victory, although they would prefer their team to win with them playing rather than watching. There will be the hope, to some degree, that the team struggles to victory without them. There will also be the hope that, when called upon, their positive contribution to the team will be noticed and appreciated.
If that is the case in teams of eleven and fifteen players, it is much more intensified when the team has only two members.
Last weekend, a number of Winter League teams had one member missing. The absent golfers missed what was arguably the best golfing weather for months and yet another Saturday on which the word “winter” seemed decidedly inappropriate. As many golfers will attest, playing alone in a team competition can be a humiliating experience but, last weekend at least, some absent team members also missed sterling solo performances by their partners.
Norman L Macdonald was one absentee. Whatever his reasons, he can be excused because, until very recently, he was hobbling around wearing a boot that would have more at home in a Star Wars film. His erstwhile partner, Iain Macleod, is a naturally gifted golfer and confirmed that on Saturday.
Iain began his round with a bogey and followed that with five consecutive pars, before a birdie on the Caber/Foresters helped him recover to a level par outward half. The return journey was a little more erratic but a birdie on the Redan and two strong pars to finish secured a gross 49. Even in his absence, Norman L made his contribution – his share of a handicap of 8 reduced the score to nett 41 and fourth place, with the bonus of 8 scoring points.
Graeme Tait and Martyn Macleod have made a steady start to the Winter League, regularly picking up scoring points. Saturday was no exception.
A bogey on the Ditch left them one over par after four holes but back to back birdies on the Short and Manor put a different complexion on their opening six holes. A birdie on the Memorial and another on the Caber/Foresters contributed to a round of nett 39. That was enough for a share of second place and 11 scoring points.
The second pairing on nett 39 was John Mackinnon and Norrie Munro. Their performance over the first six holes made nonsense of their handicap of 11. Two pars on either side of a birdie on the Redan and a bogey on the Manor resulted in an excellent level par outward half. A steady inward half kept them on course for a share of second place.
Liam MacGeoghegan, trying to keep his head above water somewhere in the North Sea, could be excused for having little thought about last weekend’s golf. His interest would probably have been limited to the hope that his partner, Bob Rankin, would turn up and collect two appearance points. Bob had far greater ambitions.
Four bogeys in his opening five holes gave every indication that Bob was missing his partner. However, a birdie on the long Caber/Foresters was a portent of things to come.
The second half was played in gross 21, two under par with the only blot on Bob’s card being a bogey on the Short. His three birdies came at the Miller, Redan and Manor to complete a round of one over par and win the weekend competition by one stroke on nett 38.
The contest at the top of the overall league table has tightened since last weekend. Sharath Shetty and Andrew Sim have 46 points but their lead has been cut to a single point by David Black and Ewen Morrison, who picked up another useful five points last Saturday. Graeme Tait and Martyn Macleod have climbed to third spot on 43 points, one point ahead of Alistair and Allan Macleod, who also collected five scoring points at the weekend. In fifth position on 39 points is the week’s big winner, Bob Rankin, whose partner Liam will return to a reduced handicap that may give him a nosebleed.
The course changes this weekend to a much shorter par 43 setup. In anticipation that the initial experience of the course will be disappointing, the perfect antidote in the shape of comedy impressionist Drew Cameron has been booked for the club this Saturday evening. Curries are available from 6.30pm onwards, with Drew performing at 8pm. Tickets can be obtained from the club at a cost of £10 for curry and comedy combined. That must be cheaper than eating at home, and almost certainly more entertaining. Unless, of course, your name is Bob Rankin and you have spent the whole of the past week laughing.