It is much easier to predict a bad day on the golf course than a good day. Very often, the golfer can still be in the locker room when it dawns on him that this will not be his day. No clubs will be a pretty big indication that things are going wrong but even something simple like forgetting golf shoes will be a major hint that heading on to the course is a bad idea.
The clearest clue of a bad day is often reserved until the golfer has completed his warm-up routine, which may consist of any of a wide spectrum of helpful activities ranging from physical stretching to prayer. The pre-flight checks will have included superstitious as well as practical preparation. Nevertheless, it is perfectly plausible that wandering onto the course wearing carpet slippers and a heavy coat and swinging at the ball with an umbrella will have the same outcome as the strict observance of a catalogue of activities that golfers imagine will bring out their best golf.
Regardless of the amount of preparation, everything changes when the golfer steps onto the first tee. Once the irregular heartbeat pounds out its frightened rhythm, the golfer is no longer in control of anything more than basic bodily functions; and even those have been known to fail under pressure. That opening shot of the day is usually a reliable guide as to what lies ahead. There may a whole course to complete, but the golfer will already know which way the wind is blowing, so to speak. In fact, the way the wind is blowing may already have affected his opening shot and his second will be played from the long grass in exactly the area that minutes before he had mentally told himself to avoid at all costs.
On good days, the opening shot may sail away into the distance, just as intended. Occasionally, a little good fortune will let the golfer know that this will indeed be one of his better rounds. The winners in last weekend’s round of the CarHire Hebrides Winter League had exactly that kind of day. A bogey on their first hole was no disgrace but what happened next would have convinced Norrie Mackenzie and Roddy Martin that a good round was in prospect.
The Ditch is a testing hole in the best of weather and, last Saturday, it was made even more so by a strong wind whipping across the green. Whether intentionally or not, Norrie laid up some distance from the green and then, allowing for crosswinds and all these other considerations that the best of golfers take into account, he smacked his chip shot against the flagstick and saw his ball drop straight into the hole for a birdie. That stroke of genius or good fortune inspired the pair and they had dropped only one more shot by the halfway point.
The inward half was less eventful, but three pars and three bogeys were enough for a nett 41 and victory on the day by a single stroke. Of course, had it been required, Roddy would certainly have chipped in with a miraculous shot but that was not needed and Roddy will no doubt allow his partner to bask in glory for a few more days. The 15 scoring points were just reward for a solid round in trying conditions.#
If Norrie’s chip had missed its intended target, Gordon Kennedy and David Gray would have been the major beneficiaries with a share of first place. Their nett 42 was the result of a string of four pars on the holes prior to the turn and three pars and a birdie – on the Heather – at the close of the round. The 12 scoring points means that Gordon and David have picked up all of their scoring points in their last three outings and are steadily climbing the overall league table.
Three teams posted nett 43 for 8 scoring points apiece. Stephen Moar and David “Kiwi” Macleod made a slow start but birdies on the Gunsite and Cup/Foresters rescued their round and spurred them on to an impressive second half. Further birdies came on their final two holes, the Ranol and Short Caberfeidh.
Last year, Seumas MacTaggart and Rod Mckinlay developed that irritating habit of playing sporadically but making the collecting of scoring points seem easy. They appear to be continuing that habit with a useful round that concluded with a birdie on the Cup/Foresters.
Alastair Maclennan and Neil Macleod continued their recent run of form with an excellent opening half, which included birdies on the Heather and Cup/Foresters. The inward half was more of a struggle but they hung on for another nett 43 and took their scoring points tally to 17 in the past three weeks.
Four teams carded nett 44, each earning 5 scoring points. Of those, the most worthy of mention is David Black, who again picked up points on his own. The rest of the field will be in no rush to discover what may happen when his erstwhile partner eventually joins him on the course.
Another four teams returned nett 45 for 1 scoring point apiece. Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh were amongst this group and were the only pairing close to the top of the overall competition to collect scoring points last weekend.
The leaders of the CarHire Hebrides Winter League, Murdo and Magnus Johnson, retain their three point cushion with 54 points. In second place, Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie are now only three points ahead of Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh, whose weekend efforts have moved them onto 48 points. Bryan and Colin matched the lowest gross score of the day last Saturday but their handicap has now become such a severe handicap that even that feat was not enough to pick up a solitary scoring point.
Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway remain fourth on 43 points, one ahead of Murdo and Peter O’Brien. A further point adrift are Sharath Shetty and Ken Galloway, although their challenge is likely to stall with Sharath’s enforced absence for the rest of the campaign. Sharath leaves with every good wish from the club as a whole and the hope that this stalwart member will soon be back on the course with his effortless swing and equally good grace.