There have been a few signs recently that we are emerging into Spring from a long, dark Winter. Some of the portents of Spring are not particularly welcome: the arrival of the Council Tax bill and the thud on the doormat of the optimistically entitled Next Summer catalogue are always a concern.
There are welcome hints: being able to drive home from work without the need for headlights. Although some of us absent-mindedly drive without lights anyway, at least now we are not being jolted to attention by flashing headlights and blaring horns. At the golf club, the opening of bookings for summer competitions coincided with a St Patrick’s Day when the sun shone and even Stewart Macdonald contemplated removing a layer of clothing. Even those golfers who now doubt their ability to hit a golf ball with any accuracy whatsoever, would have enjoyed a stroll in the relatively warm sunshine.
Perhaps the term “stroll” is a little exaggerated, as the pace of play was at times reduced to a crawl with some teams taking almost as long to complete twelve holes as they do to finish all eighteen in summer. Over at Match and Handicap, our own St Patrick (Aird) may have to resort to the whip to ensure summer competitions end on the day they begin.
The new course layout has a par of 50 but, despite the appearance of no less than four par 5 holes, it is clear that, in the right conditions, there are plenty of opportunities for low scoring. To qualify for scoring points last weekend, teams had to post nett 48 or better.
Four teams recorded nett 47 for seven points apiece. Kevin “Lava” Macleod and Norman Morrison lifted themselves into the top half of the overall league table with an excellent round that included birdies on the Memorial and Manor.
Seumas MacTaggart and Rod McKinlay returned from absence and completed the kind of round that they are all too familiar with. A birdie on the Redan helped to a halfway total of only one over par, but Seumas and Rod are always aware that there is a disastrous hole lurking around the corner. That duly arrived in the shape of a triple bogey on the Ranol but, nevertheless, amassing 27 points in their last three outings is no mean feat.
Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh began in steady fashion until a run of four successive birdies from the Memorial to the Castle transformed their round and, despite a bogey on the Dardanelles, a fifth birdie on the Short ensured they matched the lowest gross total of the day. Perhaps seven scoring points was scant reward for their play, given that their handicap now jumps from +1 to +3.
Another pairing that suffered a two stroke handicap cut as a result of last weekend’s round is the father and son team of Peter and Murdo O’Brien. A birdie on the Long Caberfeidh/Foresters kept them level par at the turn; they went on to pick up two further birdies on the Castle and Manor. The fact that they were three under par on the par 5 holes is testimony to Peter’s apparently dramatic increase in length off the tee. Or something like that.
One shot ahead on nett 46, Marten James and Huw Lloyd reached halfway with a birdie on the Manor. They picked up another on the Long Caberfeidh/Foresters to earn eleven scoring points and put themselves within striking distance of the overall leaders.
Stephen Moar and David “Kiwi” Macleod also posted nett 46. A birdie on their opening hole, the Castle, and two more on the Short and Manor, gave Stephen and David an impressive first six total of three under par. Their only slip on the back six was a bogey on the Ranol. Stephen and David were lying thirteenth overall after the previous weekend, but their performance last Saturday has catapulted them into contention for the title.
The weekend winners were David Black and Iain “Boozy” Macdonald. The sunshine that tempted Iain to make an unusual foray onto the golf course clearly also affected David and the pair birdied their opening three holes: the Castle, Dardanelles and Redan. With a further birdie on the Long Caberfeidh/Foresters, David and Iain went on to match the lowest gross score of the day. Their reward of fifteen scoring points was tempered by a handicap increase of three strokes.
The challenge for the CarHire Hebrides Winter League title is even closer after last weekend, with only eight points separating the top ten teams. Peter Dickie and Stewart Macdonald are in tenth position on 70 points, one behind Liam McGeoghegan and Bob Rankin. They in turn are one point adrift of Allan and Alasdair Macleod, who are tied for seventh spot with Donald John Smith and David Macleod.
Their weekend exploits have pushed Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh into sixth place on 73 points, two points behind Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie, who share fourth spot with Stephen Moar and David “Kiwi” Macleod.
Magnus and Murdo Johnson are third on 77 points. Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway are on 78 points but they now share the lead with Peter and Murdo O’Brien.