The perennial question of whether or not a late night Burns Supper is the best preparation for Winter League duty on the following day remains unanswered after another excellent evening at Stornoway Golf Club last Friday. Certainly, a number of those devouring haggis, neeps and tatties discovered that the Supper provided added energy twelve hours later and they gratefully collected scoring points, albeit at the lower end of the scale. On the other hand, there were others who found twelve holes of golf a step too far for a stomach still bloated, a head still clouded and hands still trembling.
The jury may be out on the beneficial effects of Burns Suppers but for those golfers looking for inspiration in any shape or form, no matter how obscure, there is a new tip to follow. Ever since suffering damage to a foot in an unfortunate argument with a lawnmower, Sandy Bruce has made strenuous efforts to return to playing golf at his usual high standard. His latest wheeze is wearing a large boot on one foot and a wellington boot on the other; only on the golf course, it should be added. No one, not least Sandy, appears to be sure which foot is the injured one, but that is relatively unimportant. What is important is that it works.
It was enough to take Sandy and partner Eddie Mackenzie to a share of first place last Saturday and, if Eddie takes to wearing Sandy’s spare mismatched boots, they could well claim maximum points again this weekend. For those prepared to try this approach, an orthopaedic ankle boot and knee length wellington is clearly the preferred option but any combination of odd shoes, or possibly a pair of shoes worn on the wrong feet, could improve golfing performance by up to half a dozen shots. Those inclined to sue if golf tips prove fruitless should note the use of the words “could” and “up to”.
A birdie on the Redan helped Sandy and Eddie to a one over par halfway total. Four straight pars followed to put them in a strong position and, although a further birdie on the Dardanelles was cancelled out by a bogey on their final hole, Sandy and Eddie’s nett 42 equalled the best score of the day. Two other teams posted a similar total and all picked up twelve scoring points.
We are unsure as to whether or not Kevin “Lava” Macleod and Norman Morrison were wearing special shoes at the weekend but, in any case, they were long overdue a good score. A birdie on the Dardanelles was the highlight of a solid first six holes. The second half was completed in only three over par and that was enough to earn them their first scoring points of the campaign.
Griddy Macleod and Kevin Macrae made the most of the relatively calm conditions to post the best gross score of the day. Three birdies, on the Ditch, Ranol and Dardanelles, and nine pars gave them gross 43. Their single handicap stroke did the rest but they can no longer rely on a handicap to assist them. This weekend they play off plus one.
One stroke behind the winning total was the pairing of John A Macdonald and Kenny John Macleod, collecting useful scoring points for the second successive week. There was no birdie on their card, but a steady stream of pars ensured eight scoring points and they continue to climb the league table.
Liam McGeoghegan and Bob Rankin also returned nett 43. A birdie on the Dardanelles was immediately followed by a double bogey for a three over par half way total. A similar result on the return leg catapulted them into the top ten in the overall competition.
Six teams collected four points each for nett 44. David Black once again scored well in the absence of his partner, while Chris “Tex” Graham and Paul Maclean notched up their first scoring points of the Winter League.
Huw Lloyd and Marten James were the only morning partnership to collect scoring points, while Donald John Smith and Dave Macleod continued their impressive form to score points for the third time this month.
Allan Macleod and Alastair “Greens” Macleod had a rollercoaster round, with shots dropped in frustrating fashion and golf of the highest standard thrown in; the latter being exemplified by Allan sinking a birdie putt on the Dardanelles just before Alastair drilled in an eagle putt. It is probably worth mentioning what happened immediately afterwards.
Allan took down Murdo O’Brien from around 180 yards with what was either a fairway wood struck with unerring accuracy or a calamitous sliced tee shot. Since Allan is Club Captain and Murdo the Vice-Captain, we can only hope for reconciliation before the Club AGM later this month.
The final team to post nett 44 was John Gillies and John R Gillies, who were two under par after four holes. A reality check quickly reversed that position but they clung on to take their tally of points earned in January to twenty three.
The failure of the leading teams in the overall competition to pick up points in recent weeks means that the top of the CarHire Hebrides Winter League is now so closely contested that only seven points separate the top nine teams.
The leaders remain Murdo and Magnus Johnson on 60 points but the gap to second place has been eroded to a single point. Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie have jumped nine places to 59 points, two ahead of three chasing teams. Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway and Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie have now been joined by John and John R Gillies.
Gordon Kennedy and David Gray have dropped to sixth position on 55 points, one ahead of Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh. Donald John Smith and David Macleod are now level with Andy and Arthur. One point adrift on 53 points are Peter and Murdo O’Brien. Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald and Murdo Maclennan share tenth spot on 49 points with two rapidly improving teams. Griddy Macleod and Kevin Macrae have climbed eleven places and Liam McGeoghegan and Bob Rankin seven places to be within striking distance of the top of the table.