What a difference a few drops of water make. It may have been less than one centimetre of rain but it was sufficient to make ground conditions at Stornoway Golf Club more like a golf course and less like an airport runway. As a result, there were more under par rounds in the past two competitions than in all the combined rounds of the previous month. The fairways still remain fairly solid: what else can explain Griddy Macleod covering the 551 yard length of the Dardanelles in two blows? And he sank the putt for an extremely rare eagle.
To complete a good week for Griddy, he and Kevin Macrae once more walked away with the Biddley Fiver. As has been mentioned before, the competition format for the Biddley Fiver is that Club Captain Allan “Biddley” Macleod and Al “Greens” Macleod play a match against Kevin Macrae and Griddy Macleod, at the end of which Biddley invariably has to hand over £5. The whole procedure could be considerably shortened if the foursome simply met up in the clubhouse, relieved Biddley of his money and then went home.
Another golfer in fine form is Huw Lloyd, whose fortunes began to improve with a nett 65 in the second round of the Thomson Bruce Trophy competition two weeks ago. Huw followed that with a nett 64 to win the midweek competition for the Summer Cup, a competition played on one of the few days since Easter when the word “summer” seemed inappropriate. Huw survived a double bogey on his opening hole and dropped only one more stroke on the outward half. A solid finish gave him victory just ahead of Marten James.
Marten also had a bogey on the first hole – as we all know, the first signal of a dreadful round is often a par on the Castle – and that possible stroke of good fortune was confirmed by the fact that he, like Huw, dropped only one more shot before the turn. A disappointing double bogey on the last hole was probably the reason that his nett 64 took him into second, rather than first, place.
In third position, Griddy Macleod had a level par first half and a one over par return to post nett 65 and reverse the recent upward trajectory in his handicap. Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald, Iain Macleod and Alasdair Maclean were the other competitors to break par as the fairways and greens became more receptive in damp conditions.
No less than seventeen of the participants in the weekend Jackson Medal qualifying event broke par. That still means that over forty of the field did not, but there is a general feeling amongst most golfers that things are moving in the right direction. Given that this weekend sees the qualifying rounds for the Western Isles Open Championship, most golfers are in any case grasping at straws at this time of year. The Club Shop is busy as members buy up new clubs, balls, shoes and even performance enhancing clothing in a last gasp attempt to make their mark during Golf Week.
Performance enhancing clothing claims to have the technological wherewithal to promote circulation, flexibility, balance and recovery. Golfers would be glad of improvement in any one of those areas, but it is important not to become over excited by such a prospect. Any excitement rapidly dissipates when one manufacturer claims to have a hat that will enhance performance. In solemn and serious tone, prospective purchasers are informed that “wearing a hat on a hot and sunny day reduces the risk of you getting sunburn on your scalp as well as keeping your head cooler and the sun off your eyes. If it is cold and wet while you are playing your round of golf, a cap or hat will keep your head warm and dry.”
On this basis, the humble umbrella suddenly assumes the mantle of a performance enhancing accessory, keeping the golfer dry when it is raining and in the shade when it is hot and sunny; even the comfort derived from having a rolled umbrella in the golf bag on a dry day could significantly enhance performance.
Perhaps the easiest method of achieving enhanced performance is simply impersonating Huw Lloyd, who had another excellent round last weekend. A birdie on the Glen, followed by consecutive birdies on the Caberfeidh and Miller, helped Huw to his second nett 64 in four days. Unlike the midweek round, nett 64 last Saturday could only guarantee fourth place in the Jackson Medal event.
Stewart Davidson has been threatening a good score for weeks and finally broke gross 70 last weekend. An eagle on the Manor and birdie on the Glen were the highlights of a level par outward half. Further birdies on the Dardanelles and Caberfeidh for a nett 64 took Stewart to third spot.
Bryan Geddes was also level par to the turn, thanks in part to birdies on the Manor and Memorial. Two under par over the final five holes, with birdies on the Ditch and Cup, Bryan posted his best score of the year with nett 63.
Bryan was edged into the runner up position by the even better finish of Alasdair Maclean, whose nett 63 included a birdie on the Dardanelles. That result was a seven stroke improvement on his round the previous weekend. The only possible performance enhancement that could explain the difference was that Alasdair had no school reunion to attend last Friday night, unlike a fortnight ago, when meeting up with former Back School fellow pupils clearly took its toll the following day on the golf course.
The Ladies Section played a stableford off the medal tees last weekend and the two in form competitors from the Ladies Club Championship contested the top two places. Once again, it was Jane Nicolson who came out on top, her winning margin being six points over Christine Macleod. Mairi Maciver was third.