It was a weekend of unusual events in golf. Tiger Woods won a PGA Tour event for the first time in thirty months. Play for the Hassan Trophy in Morocco was suspended because of high winds gusting to 35mph, conditions similar to a weather system in the Hebrides known as either a gentle breeze or “a good drying day”. The mercury in Stornoway climbed to a sultry 16°, despite the slight chill felt by all those who witnessed the first public airing of the year for Pete Middleton’s knees.
There are now so many sporting events taking place on Saturdays around the Golf Club, from cross-country running to cycling and rugby, that some of our golfing athletes are a little out of breath by the time they finding a parking space. When they do wheeze onto the golf course, most of the teams challenging at the top of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League are finding it increasingly difficult to pick up points. The qualifying total for scoring points last weekend was nett 48 and even an excellent gross return of three under par by Kevin Macrae and Griddy Macleod had a meagre reward of a solitary point.
If three under par was a useful total, it is difficult to qualify the performance of Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie. By the time they reached the turn, Bryan and Colin were already three under par, courtesy of birdies on the Dardanelles, Redan and Short. Their inward half began with successive birdies on the Ard Choille and Glen and a further two birdies on the Memorial and Long Caberfeidh/Foresters completed a stunning round. This was by some distance the lowest gross total of the day and, despite the fact that a crippling handicap of +2 lifted them to nett 45, Bryan and Colin picked up nine precious scoring points.
Matching the total of nett 45, Scott Macaulay and Stuart Munro at last ignited their campaign with an excellent round. A birdie on the Long Caberfeidh/Foresters concluded a solid outward six and, after a bogey on the Castle, a string of five pars saw Scott and Stuart home for their best card to date.
Alasdair Maclean and Willie Macaulay gave a glimpse of what might have been had Alasdair not broken his own leg – and possibly Willie’s heart – while playing indoor football, a sport his body had advised him to give up years ago. Now back to what can be loosely described as peak fitness, Alasdair and his partner enjoyed an opening burst of four consecutive pars, followed by a bogey and a birdie on the Long Caberfeidh/Foresters. A birdie on the Castle followed immediately, with another on the Redan helping to secure a nett 44 and twelve scoring points.
Another pairing that may be contemplating what might have been is the father and son partnership of Clive and Neil Rowlands. Their visits to the course have been sporadic, to put it mildly, having managed only nine appearances between them in the Winter League. However, they had already picked up fifteen scoring points in the last month and doubled that tally with the winning total last Saturday.
A birdie on their opening hole, the Castle, followed by a string of pars, combined for a one under par halfway total. A birdie on the Ard Choille was cancelled out by a bogey on the next hole, but birdies on the Heather and Memorial gave Clive and Neil a nett 43 and victory by one stroke.
With only two rounds remaining, there are now seventeen teams within striking distance of the top of the league table.
Peter Dickie and Stewart Macdonald share tenth spot with Donald John Smith and David Macleod. on 72 points, one behind Liam McGeoghegan and Bob Rankin.
Allan and Alasdair Macleod are eighth on 74 points, with Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh one point behind. Sandy Bruce and Eddie Mackenzie are tied with Stephen Moar and David “Kiwi” Macleod in fifth position on 77 points.
Their superb weekend efforts have pushed Colin Macritchie and Bryan Geddes back into contention on 79 points. The fact that, prior to last Saturday, Colin and Bryan had been able to pick up only one scoring point since Christmas should give some encouragement to those teams struggling to cope with oppressive handicaps.
Colin and Bryan share third place with Magnus and Murdo Johnson, while Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway continue to share the lead on 80 points with Peter and Murdo O’Brien.