The sight of snow falling in Rome last weekend made the mild weather in Stornoway all the more enjoyable for local golfers – at least until they began Round 16 of the CarHire Hebrides Winter League. The course has not been in such good playing condition since late September. However, the decimation of team handicaps since then made low scoring unlikely, particularly as the change in course setup has introduced three par 5 holes in succession at the start of the inward half.
A return of nett 45 was good enough for a single scoring point. Four pairings made that total but how they must have wished that any of their missed putts had dropped; a nett 44 would have brought a bonus of an additional four scoring points.
Four teams shared five points apiece for nett 44. Martyn Macleod and Jimmy Gowans picked up their first scoring points of the campaign but they will rue a finish of three consecutive bogeys that pegged back an otherwise very impressive round.
George Mould and George Macleod made an indifferent start to their round but an inward half of only two over par, including a birdie on the Whins, brought them within a share of first place.
Kevin “Lava” Macleod and Norman Morrison earned their first scoring points of the campaign on their last outing and continued in the same vein last Saturday. Despite double bogeys on two of their opening three holes, Kevin and Norman finished strongly with five pars and a solitary bogey on the return leg.
The weekend results would have a huge bearing on the overall competition and that change was intimated by the final partnership to post nett 44. Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie shared first place a fortnight earlier and came within a whisker of a similar position last weekend. A bogey on the Short Manor was the only slip in their opening six, while a birdie on the Ranol took them to a level par gross total.
The winning total of nett 43 was matched by five pairings. Rod McKinlay and Seumas MacTaggart made another of their intermittent appearances and once again demonstrated what a formidable team they are. Their opening half may have been average but a solid second six of only two over par was enough to give a share of the lead and ten scoring points.
Seamus and Rod were playing alongside Norman L Macdonald and Iain Macleod and, as often happens, one pairing inspired the other. Iain and Norman played a tight first half to reach the turn in two over par. They recovered from a double bogey on the Dardanelles with a birdie on the Cup/Foresters and a second birdie on the Ranol gave them a one over par second half. With thirty one points in their last three outings, Norman and Iain are manoeuvring themselves into a threatening position.
Andrew Reeves and Iain Morrison comprise another team that is finding form at exactly the right time. They began their round by covering the three par 5 holes only one over and a birdie on the Ranol kept them at two over par at the halfway point. A further birdie on the Redan in the midst a run of four 3s sandwiched between two bogeys completed an excellent inward half.
Donald John Smith and David Macleod birdied the Whins to reach halfway level par. The test of the three par 5 holes was passed with flying colours and three pars to finish gave them a level par round.
The final pairing on nett 43 was that of Allan Macleod and Alastair “Greens” Macleod, earning scoring points for the second successive round. A birdie on their opening hole, the Ard Choille, helped them to a level par first half. A par on the Castle was followed by impressive birdies on the Dardanelles and Cup/Foresters. Another birdie on the Long Caberfeidh, their final hole, not only gave them a share of the lead but also the lowest gross score of the day, three under par.
The lead in the overall competition has changed for the first time since the start of the year. Murdo and Magnus Johnson have slipped to third place on 62 points, overtaken by two of teams posting excellent scores last weekend. Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie are now on 66 points, and they share top spot with Donald John Smith and David Macleod.
Allan and Alastair Macleod have moved into fourth place on 60 points, one ahead of three teams: Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway; Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie; and John and John R Gillies.
Gordon Kennedy and David Gray are in eighth position on 57 points, one ahead of Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh. Peter and Murdo O’Brien complete the top ten on 55 points.