If any family member had asked a Stornoway golfer to help with some chore that involved being outdoors for even a few minutes last weekend, the response would probably have been along these lines: “Are you crazy? I’m not Scott of the Antarctic and, even if I was, I wouldn’t go out in that”.
On the other hand, if anyone had dared to suggest to a Stornoway golfer that venturing out onto the course last Saturday was not a sensible idea, the response would probably have been along these lines: “Are you crazy? They’re only passing showers. If Scott of the Antarctic was here, he’d be relaxing outside in his semmit and long johns”.
Those encouraging double standards explain why over seventy golfers participated in the last weekend’s round of the CarHire Hebrides Winter League in pretty atrocious conditions, even by the standards of Captain Scott. Some of the participants were wearing so many layers of clothing that it was difficult to swing a club. Of course, that can often be an advantage, restricting the golfer’s swing from the usual whirling dervish variety to a more controlled and effective version.
There was also the added drawback of the ball gradually taking on the shape of a snowball as it travelled across the green, until it was eventually too large to fit into the hole. For those who failed to cope with the elements, there was at least the consolation of two appearance points. The elements included high winds and hailstones combining to produce the same effect as a chemical face peel but at a fraction of the cost.
Despite the conditions, many teams played what could loosely be described as good golf and level par nett 42 was the cut off mark for scoring points. Amongst the ten teams on level par, it is worth highlighting the junior pairing of Adam Longdon and Michael Jefferson, who picked up their first scoring points of the winter.
There were a handful of teams collecting 5 scoring points on nett 41, including three of the top ten teams: Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway, Allan and Alastair Macleod and Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie.
Two teams tied for third place, picking up 8 scoring points apiece on nett 40. Kevin Macrae and Griddy Macleod posted the lowest gross total of the day with a level par 42 and moved up to eighth position in the overall table. A bogey on the Short Ranol was offset by a birdie on the Ard Choille and ten pars made for a very tidy scorecard in the tough conditions.
Arthur Macintosh and Andy Macdonald also matched the lowest gross total. After a level par outward half, a double bogey on the Glen looked to have put paid to a good round. However, consecutive birdies on the Gunsite and Short Ranol brought them home in level par.
Ken Galloway and Sharath Shetty continued their impressive form with nett 39 for 12 scoring points and the runner up position on the day. A birdie on the Cup helped them to a one under par total at the turn. Another birdie on the Avenue set them up for the home leg but the weather closed in and, despite a birdie on the Gunsite, three bogeys in the last five holes took the edge off a very good score.
The winners were Alasdair Maclean and Willie Macaulay, who have so far failed to take advantage of the calm weather and warmer temperatures of October and November. However, give them a dark, bitterly cold day with driving hail showers and they are clearly in their element, squelching around the course in nett 38 to win and pick up the maximum 15 scoring points.
A birdie on the Short Manor and five pars took them to the halfway point in one under par, with the luxury of a handicap of 6 as yet untouched. They were three over par on the inward half and that was to prove unbeatable.
It is still early in the competition, but the overall league table has many of the perennial challengers already in contention at the top. Murdo and Peter O’Brien are in fifth spot on 33 points, two behind Sharath Shetty and Ken Galloway. Third place is held by Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway on 37 points and Murdo and Magnus Johnson are six points ahead on 43.
The current leaders are Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie on 45 points.
The remaining prizes for the summer season were handed out last weekend. The winner of the Lews Castle Trophy, which is awarded to the club member who has achieved the greatest reduction in handicap during the year, was James Hood. James has reduced his handicap from 22.4 to 16.1. Kevin “Lava” Macleod, whose handicap has tumbled from 19.9 to 14.1, missed out on the prize by the narrowest of margins.