The Ken MacDonald & Co TeXmas Scramble is one of the highlights of the winter calendar at Stornoway Golf Club. Last weekend’s field of more than ninety golfers was testament to the popularity of the competition. An added incentive was that the recent closure of the course due to adverse weather meant that most participants would have turned out for a midnight putting competition simply to experience the thrill of hitting a ball with a club again. Few were deterred by the weather: the beautiful skies overhead were counteracted by the conditions under foot, with the inaugural staging in Stornoway of a trans-Siberian texas scramble.
One golfer conspicuous by his absence was Eddie Rogers, who has suffered damage to his Achilles heel. Injury is no stranger to Eddie; for years he has risked life and limb on a surf board seeking the adrenalin rush of soaring on huge Atlantic rollers. His latest injury is the result of an accident suffered whilst participating in another extreme sport: country dancing. We wish “Ginger” Rogers a swift recovery.
The texas scramble format of a team of four players having to contribute three tee shots each over the course of twelve holes may allow a relaxed start to the round with plenty of options. However, the realisation that few holes are left brings on nervous tension – often manifesting itself as blind panic – as individual team members try to ensure that it is someone else who is standing alone on the last tee.
One of the most demoralising sights in golf must be the trembling figure addressing the ball on the Avenue tee while his wildly optimistic team mates wait expectantly around the green of their final hole almost 200 yards away. The odds of the ball landing anywhere near the waiting golfers lengthen by the second as the golfer on the tee appears to be performing his backswing while being jabbed by a cattle prod. The joys of team golf.
The sharp frost last Saturday resulted in relatively high scoring in a competition that generally produces a multitude of birdies. For some golfers, the sight of their drives bounding on and on over frozen ground was worth the entry fee alone. For those who are close to claiming the prize as the world’s worst putter, there was the consolation that no one was able to judge distance or direction on greens that were more suited to use as curling rinks. Others were only there to pass the time, reserving their competitive edge for the jostling in the buffet queue afterwards.
The top four teams each returned a gross score of 40, two under par and the final placings were decided on handicap allowance. Chis Graham, Norrie T Macdonald, Paul Maclean and Murdo Maclennan began in blistering form, with birdies on their opening two holes. At one stage, they stood four under par after seven holes but, as options off the tee diminished, they dropped two shots on their closing holes to finish on nett 37.8.
The same nett total was posted by Peter Dickie, Andy Macdonald, Stewart Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh. With no bogeys on their card, birdies on the Cup and Gunsite were not quite enough to win the day.
The team in second position played seven holes before registering their first birdie on the Short Caberfeidh. David Black, Iain Macdonald, Robert Rankin and Neil Rowlands went on pick up a second birdie on the Short Manor for another bogey free round. Their handicap took them to nett 37.7.
The winners were more than a stroke clear on nett 36.4. Jamie Duncan, John A Macdonald, Kenny John Macleod and Martyn Macleod birdied the Gunsite at the start of what was to be a roller coaster round. Two pars were followed by a bogey on the Avenue and after another two pars came their second birdie on the Ditch. The next hole produced a bogey, which was immediately cancelled out by a birdie on the Foresters. A fourth birdie on the Glen was enough to secure victory. Each of the team sank relatively long putts during the round and, in conditions when anything over two feet was a testing putt, that contributed to a deserved victory. It is also worth noting that the winning team was the sole group to record a birdie on the Ditch and one of only two teams to birdie the Foresters.
The CarHire Hebrides Winter League resumes this weekend. Entry sheets are available for additional competitions to be played over the festive period. For those now panicking that they may have left Christmas shopping a little too late this year, the Golf Shop has newly arrived stock of golfing and leisure clothing and equipment.
Looking further ahead, the Burns Supper is scheduled for January 27th and will, at the very least, provide a decent hot meal to those of us living in poverty after the excess of Christmas. On that cheery note, we wish golfers and all still reading this article a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.