The Summer Cup sounds like a trophy that should be competed for against a backdrop of sunshine and warmth. That was indeed the case last week as the warmth of a calm, clear afternoon continued into a long, balmy evening. The conditions suggested that low scoring was a distinct possibility but there were two factors that ruined many a card. There was the minor difficulty of holding the ball on the firm greens and the major problem of finding any ball that missed the fairway.
Some of the more timid members are now afraid to venture into deeper rough for fear of surprising a wild animal. Even the rabbits seem to prefer suicidal squatting on the fairways and greens to the dangers of the great unknown in the rough; although it has to be said that, having witnessed much of the golf played this season, the rabbits have calculated that they are probably much safer on the fairways than anywhere else on the course.
Almost half of the fifty strong field returned scores of par or better. Three of those scores stood out. David Black had a level par round, with another clutch of birdies to add to his collection. Colin Macritchie was three under par at the turn and eventually finished on gross 66. The winner of the Summer Cup was Andy Macdonald, who was only two strokes short of equalling the course record. His gross 64 was bogey free, with both outward and inward halves completed in two under par and the four birdies took his tally to ten from his last two competitions. The resultant nett 61 was two shots clear of Murdo Maclennan, who made par on every one of the back nine holes.
Third place on nett 64 was shared by Ken MacDonald and John R Gillies. A little of the gloss of their performances was lost once they realised that someone had equalled their nett score without any handicap being deducted.
The contrast in weather from midweek to weekend could not have been more stark. Strong winds and heavy downpours prompted a rare complaint from Eric Anderson that conditions were more reminiscent of Winter League than summer golf. The outward nine holes and, in particular, the Glen and Heather were a severe golfing test. No birdies were recorded at either hole and only three competitors from a field of over sixty managed to par the Heather.
Nevertheless, there are always those who are oblivious to adverse weather. Pat Aird had the added problem of a double figure score on the opening hole but he battled on and finished with a creditable nett 65. His finish was enough to edge him ahead of Murdo Alex Macleod and Marten James, two of the club’s most improved golfers this season.
Murdo O’Brien bucked the trend of the day by playing some of his best golf in the outward half, reaching the turn in level par with birdies on the Manor and Memorial. Another two birdies on the back nine, on the Whins and Foresters, offset a triple bogey on the Dardanelles for an excellent gross 70 (nett 64).
The only golfer to break 70 did so in some style. Griddy Macleod is playing some of his best golf at present and generally does his serious scoring on the front nine holes. In fact, his last five outings have resulted in one eagle and nine birdies – all on the front nine. Four of those birdies came last weekend. It should come as no surprise that he birdied the Manor, as he is ten under par on this hole in his last ten rounds. The other birdies, on the Ard Choille, Memorial and Gunsite, helped him reach the turn three under par. A steady back nine of one bogey and eight pars gave him gross 66. His nett 61 won the competition with three strokes to spare.
The ladies could hardly have chosen a more challenging day to play from the white tees and experience what the weaker sex has to suffer every week. Holes like the Gunsite and Cup are in excess of a hundred yards longer than from the red tees normally used by ladies. Even with a following wind, that is a daunting prospect Congratulations are due to all those who survived the ordeal of the White Tee Stableford and, in particular, to runner up Mairi Maciver and winner Ann Galbraith. Neither player would have been disgraced in the men’s event on the same day.
This weekend sees the start of the highlight of the Stornoway golfing calendar. Golf Week commences with the two qualifying rounds of the Western Isles Amateur Open Championship, continues with competitions throughout the week and ends next Saturday with the One Day Open competition. When combined with the Hebridean Celtic Festival, it is an energy sapping marathon that requires golfers to be in peak physical condition. A cursory glance at past winners of scratch and handicap events underlines the importance of that elusive blend of athleticism and skill needed to achieve success in Golf Week.
The other essential ingredient required is payment of fees before participating. Hopefully, next week’s Stornoway Gazette will not carry the names of those who had the rounds of their lives only to suffer the embarassment of disqualification because they omitted to pay the entry fee.