This time last year, Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway began a surge that took them to a share of the CarHire Hebrides Winter League title. This year, they sit at the top of the leaderboard a month earlier than last campaign. Their competitors can only hope that the pairing has peaked too early.
Last Saturday was a day when a sudden gale appeared from nowhere to disrupt afternoon rounds that, until then, had been played in something resembling spring conditions. It was also a day when a number of teams jostling for position in the Winter League threw down the gauntlet to other challengers.
The winning total of nett 42 was recorded by Iain “Tod” Mackenzie and Donald “Zebo” Macleod. Their fifteen scoring points may have seemed out of reach as they stood five over par at the halfway point, even with the bonus of a birdie on the Ranol. Nevertheless, their persistence paid off in a back six that included birdies on the Redan and Whins. With a handicap of 12, that performance was to prove unbeatable and also gave hope to those teams languishing in the lower reaches of the Winter League. Iain and “Zebo” were lying in thirty-fourth position until last weekend but they have now leapt twelve places and have the prospect of challenging the leaders over the course of the next month.
Another team that climbed around ten places last weekend was the pairing of George Macaskill and Jamie Duncan. George’s absence in recent weeks eventually persuaded Jamie to take the game by the scruff of the neck and his startling solo round took him to within a stroke of equalling the winning total. He made steady progress to complete the outward half in three over par before an excellent birdie on the Castle put him on course for a level par inward half. His nett 43 secured a share of second spot and eleven scoring points.
Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway also posted nett 43 with an almost faultless round. Birdies on the Castle, Dardanelles, Miller and Ranol gave them a scintillating start and even with a bogey on the Cup/Foresters, Cal and Richard reached the turn three under par. The return leg was completed in one under par, courtesy of five pars and a birdie on the Redan. Their total of gross 43 was the lowest of the day and they now become the target for every other team challenging for the Winter League title.
Three teams returned nett 44 for seven scoring points apiece. Liam McGeoghegan and Bob Rankin had a superb first half of one over par followed by a steady second half for a final total that pushed them into the top ten in the overall competition. Their position is even more commendable given that offshore employment means that Bob is “single” for around half of the campaign. Of course, being single has never stopped Bob from scoring, which puts added pressure on his Winter League partner to make a positive contribution in his sporadic appearances.
Clive and Neil Rowlands may have played only occasionally in the Winter League, but when they do, they have shown every indication of being a solid combination. Having taken eight scoring points on the previous weekend, they added another seven last Saturday. A relatively pedestrian first half was followed by birdies on the Castle and Ranol.
Murdo and Magnus Johnson last scored points in this competition on Hogmanay but their Winter League pedigree means that they can never be discounted. A birdie on the Ditch helped them to a one under par first half and a birdie on the Castle ensured a similar tally for the inward six. Their hallmark has always been steady golf and, even in the weeks when they do not pick up points, Murdo and Magnus are never far from the winning score.
Andrew Reeves and Iain Morrison picked up five scoring points for their nett 45 and that was enough to take them to twelfth in the overall competition on 60 points. Gordon Kennedy and David Gray are one place and one point ahead, while Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh moved into tenth spot on 62, courtesy of a single scoring point earned for nett 47 last weekend.
Liam McGeoghegan and Bob Rankin have moved up to 63 points and share eighth position with John and John R Gillies. Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie are one point ahead but trail the sixth placed pair, Peter and Murdo O’Brien, by three points.
Allan and Alastair Macleod picked up three scoring points with an excellent weekend round and now share fourth place on 68 points with Donald John Smith and David Macleod. Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie have slipped to third position on 71 points, overtaken by the Johnson twins on 73 points in second and new leaders Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway on 74 points.
With the summer season now only a month away, competition entries will be available shortly. Membership subscriptions are also due. For those who are returning to playing golf after some absence or taking up the game for the first time, Stornoway Golf Club has a special introductory offer of a £100 annual subscription for restricted membership. Anyone interested in this offer should contact the Club for details and membership form.