Last weekend, Stornoway golf was all about the weather and how to cope with it. The rain was incessant and, at one stage, resulted in a late afternoon course inspection before competitions could continue. Some golfers seemed untroubled.
Rita Macdonald won the ladies’ Cancer Relief Stableford with a very respectable 36 points, one clear of runner up Liz Carmichael. Rita arrived unprepared for the downpour and had to borrow waterproof clothing. The only suitable attire was at least a generous two sizes too big and so Rita played the entire competition elegantly clad in an outfit held together with tape and rubber bands. Golfers are so superstitious that this ‘lucky’ outfit may have to be worn again until its charm wears off.
The Thomson Bruce Trophy was played over two rounds on Saturday but the dreadful conditions took their toll on the field. Many competitors wished that, instead of splashing their way through the course, they had entered the 10K run that snaked its way through the Castle Grounds during the morning round. The race may have required a little more stamina but at least there was applause at the finish. And it was over in about an hour.
Despite the adverse weather conditions, the first round saw some excellent scoring. Bryan Geddes took third place with a round that included three birdies, on the Manor, Memorial and Cup. His gross 69 was also the best score of the day under handicap at nett 64. David Black and Andy Macdonald shared the lead with gross 68. Andy was the model of consistency with a round of one birdie, one bogey and sixteen pars, while David managed five birdies in his round.
If anything, the rain in the afternoon was even more unrelenting. The one saving grace was a lack of wind, which helped to keep scoring down for those golfers who managed to stay on the fairway from tee to green. The best afternoon return was posted by Norrie O Macdonald, who bettered his earlier gross 72 by three strokes to take third place overall with an aggregate of 141. However, the first round leaders could not be caught and nor could they be separated. Both returned gross 70 for a total of 138. Once again, David Black had another glut of birdies, but two double bogeys pegged back the four birdies in his second round. Andy Macdonald had three early birdies and reached the turn in one under par but could not find another birdie on the return leg.
The winner of the trophy will now be decided by a four hole play off between Andy and David.
David and Andy also had the best handicap totals of the day, with 130 and 134 respectively. Third place went to Alasdair Maclean, who put together two solid rounds of 68 and 67 for an aggregate of 135. In fourth position, one stroke behind, was Club Captain Norrie T Macdonald. Norrie, with some reluctance, had to leave his usual high visibility clothing in his wardrobe in favour of more practical rainwear on Saturday. It is perhaps no coincidence that, on a day of unremitting deluge, Norrie’s latest mail order trousers arrived, ensuring that he will resemble a rather tasteful rainbow when he eventually summons up the courage to slip them on.
The hard luck tale of the day is undoubtedly that told by Gordon Kennedy. Standing on the Avenue tee, a par would have given him a first round nett total of 62, a remarkable score in the prevailing conditions. Instead, claiming that he was distracted by the rapturous applause being given to runners finishing the half marathon a few yards away, Gordon took nine shots to finish the hole. As if that was not disappointing enough, he compounded his frustration by completing the same hole in just two strokes in the afternoon round.
The highlight of the midweek competition came late in the day. Arthur Macintosh set the early pace in the TCB Trophy competition with an excellent round of nett 64, marred only by a double bogey on the penultimate hole. Allan Macleod matched that total, resurrecting his round with a late flurry. Allan birdied the Ditch and Cup as he completed the final six holes in one under par.
By the time Paul Maclean teed off on the last hole, the rain that had threatened all evening was teeming down and the temperature had dropped sharply. Paul’s only thought was of making par for a respectable nett total that would bring his handicap down by a stroke. He assumed that his ball had gone through the green but, ever the optimist, had a glance inside the cup on his way past. And there it was. Courtesy of that last gasp hole in one, Paul suddenly transformed a respectable round into the winning round of nett 63.
Next weekend sees the County Championship played for the first time in Stornoway. Hopefully, warmer, drier conditions will allow the best golfers throughout the Western Isles produce performances to match. Before that, a Jackson Medal qualifying competition provides the ideal warm-up event.