One of the unfortunate side effects of playing golf during the festive season is that vision can be impaired to an alarming degree. The green often appears to be much further away than it actually is. At other times, the hole may seem to be much closer than in reality. Occasionally, both of those optical illusions occur at around the same time.
An added problem is that concentrating on aiming at what is to all intents and purposes a moving target can have a devastating impact on balance, which at this time of year can generally be described as precarious at best. Introducing into this heady mix a club and a ball that looks as if it is shrinking and expanding as it sits on the ground makes for a fairly impressive recipe for disaster.
In the midst of all this, there are those who actually thrive in such circumstances. With the course altered somewhat to avoid the more waterlogged areas, par of 45 would be a respectable score last weekend. However, at least two under par was required to score points on another testing day.
The more rewarding points came for those who posted three under par or better. Stewart Macdonald and Peter Dickie picked up a birdie on the Redan on their way to nett 42 and 6 scoring points. Matching that total in impressive style was the lone figure of David Black, with birdies on the Ard Choille and Cup/Foresters.
One shot better on nett 41 were Kenny John Macleod and John A Macdonald. Their round was ignited after the halfway point and a birdie on the Short Ranol underlined a solid return which was rewarded with 8 scoring points. John and John R Gillies also carded nett 41. They had no birdies on their card but, with a handicap of nine, a steady six consecutive birdies in the middle of their round helped them into the top ten in the overall competition.
Two teams returned nett 40 for 11 scoring points apiece. Donald John Smith and David Macleod added to the 6 scoring points collected on the previous weekend with another excellent round. Level par after their opening seven holes, they survived a minor blip to pick up a birdie at the Short Ranol and secure a share of second place.
A partnership in its debut season also grabbed scoring points for the second week running. Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh started with a birdie on the Ard Choille and reached the turn one under par. They improved on that with another birdie on the Short Manor and finished in some style with birdies on their final two holes, at the Memorial and Cup/Foresters. Their gross 41 was by some distance the lowest score of the day.
The winners were once again a team playing in the morning. Iain Morrison and Andrew Reeves had a blistering start to their round, with five pars and a birdie on the Gunsite taking them to the halfway point one under par. The inward half had two bogeys but, in the rough conditions, it was a superb round of nett 39 for first place and 15 scoring points.
The wide range of winners in recent weeks means that the overall table for the CarHire Hebrides Winter League has many more teams now within striking distance of the leaders. Five pairings sit on 34 points, with Allan and Alistair Macleod two points ahead in eighth position. One point above them are Malcolm and Scott Maciver.
Ken Galloway and Sharath Shetty are in sixth place on 39 points, with Murdo and Peter O’Brien in fifth spot one point ahead.
Richard Galloway and Cal Roberston drop a place to fourth on 41 points, principally because the weekend performance of Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh has taken them to 45 points and third place.
Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie remain in second position on 49 points. The current leaders are still Magnus and Murdo Johnson, who picked up another 2 scoring points last Saturday to open up a three point lead at the top.
New improvements have been made to the online booking system for competition in the summer season. One of the changes is that it will now be possible to register entries online for the matchplay competitions run throughout the season.
Before all the stress of summer golf, tickets for the Burns Supper, to be held on 27 January, are now available from the Golf Club. The confirmed speakers are Chris Kelso, Donald John Smith and the Rector of the Nicolson Institute, Frances Murray.