The North District County Championships are among the oldest and most prestigious golfing events held in the Highlands. In the distant past, island golfers were eligible to compete in the Ross-shire or Inverness-shire championships, but local government reform, which created island authorities, signalled the end for local golfers entering mainland county competitions.
As county championships are held throughout the Highlands this weekend, one event makes its debut. The inaugural Western Isles County Championship in Stornoway will decide the winner of the North District Silver Medal. Apart from the unique accolade of being the first winner of the Championship, a prize fund of £500 is added incentive for the cream of island golf. In addition to the scratch prizes, there are also generous awards for handicap winners.
The event coincides with a period of healthy entries for competition and a time when many of the best local golfers are striking a rich seam of form. Last week’s golf provided proof in abundance of both. Three competitions attracted 160 golfers and scoring was very impressive.
The midweek event was the first round of the Neil Morrison Trophy, which has scratch and handicap sections. Scratch winner was Norrie O Macdonald with gross 68, underlining his return to old habits with four birdies, on the Manor, Memorial, Redan and Caberfeidh. One stroke behind was another golfer hitting his best form. Griddy Macleod managed five birdies, on the Manor, Heather, Gunsite, Dardanelles and Ditch, in a round that saw him reach the turn in level par.
Two players were tied on gross 70. For Colin Macritchie, that was more of the same, as he has returned gross 70 on no less than five of the last seven outings. Murdo O’Brien has made a strong showing in this competition since its inception and, once he is able to negotiate the opening hole in something close to par, he will be a threat in any event.
The leaders of the scratch competition were also well placed in the handicap section. Griddy Macleod and Murdo O’Brien share second spot on nett 64, one stroke adrift of Murdo Maclennan, whose birdies on the Ard Choille, Memorial and Ranol helped him to his lowest score of the season. With the top ten in both scratch and handicap categories separated by only a few strokes, the deciding round at the end of the month should be closely fought.
Friday evening’s charity event in support of Action Research was supported in large numbers by club members and provided a welcome break from individual competition. The event also produced a ridiculous score of 53.6 by the winning team of Bryan Geddes, Griddy Macleod, Kevin Macrae and Colin Macritchie. In fact, the team would have won the competition on their gross total of 55, which comprised thirteen birdies and five pars.
Rita MacDonald made a winning impression on the previous weekend, swathed in waterproofs. Last Saturday, she donned her summer frock to take advantage of the glorious weather and won again, on this occasion in the Ladies Saturday Medal Qualifier. An impressive nett 64 was Rita’s best total of the year and was six strokes clear of Ann Galbraith in second place.
The warm weather and calm conditions were reflected in the scores returned in the weekend Jackson Medal Qualifier, with more than a third of the field of seventy matching or breaking par. Murdo Maclennan repeated his superb midweek performance for nett 64, tied in third place with Roddy Martin and Alistair Henderson.
Kevin Macrae took second spot with a scintillating round of nett 63, his lowest strokeplay total of the season by some distance. A birdie on the Ard Choille took him to the halfway point in level par and further birdies on the Whins, Ranol, Caberfeidh and Avenue brought him home in two under par. However, that was not quite enough to win on the day.
Alastair ‘Greens’ Macleod also recorded his lowest round of year and, like Kevin, beat his previous best by five strokes. Consecutive birdies on the Redan and Gunsite gave him a one under par first nine. Alastair ensured victory by one stroke with a further birdie on the last.
Paul Maclean, who had the privilege of entering a 1 on his scorecard recently, had another opportunity at the weekend. Unfortunately, the 1 was followed by a 0, as Paul took seven attempts before escaping from the bunker below at the Cup green. It seems a trifle selfish of Paul to have spent so long playing in the sun-baked sand without inviting his wife and kids to join him.
The strong showing of low handicap players in recent weeks is reflected in the Galloway Aggregate competition, with the top dozen spots occupied by single figure handicap golfers. David Black and Bryan Geddes lead the field with 393, an average score of 65.5, four strokes ahead of Andy Macdonald. On the other hand, the leaders of the Perry Eclectic suggest that, if you’re out there often enough, sooner or later you’ll record a decent score. Cal Robertson and John R Gillies share the runner up position on nett 49, with Allan Macleod in a class of his own on nett 48.