The ferocious wind of last weekend threw up an interesting query on the rules governing movement of the ball on the green. The scenario involves a player marking his ball on the green, then replacing the ball and removing his ball-marker. Prior to the player addressing the ball, the wind moves the ball from its spot. Is the ball to be replaced on its original spot or played from where it comes to rest?
The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is that the ball should be played from its new position, without penalty. It is quite conceivable that a ball originally lying twenty feet from the hole could be blown to within inches. Of course, that may not be advantageous to those of us who can confidently swing through a long putt but develop tremors and double vision when the ball is less than three feet from the hole. There are, however, a couple of conditions to bear in mind. If the player has addressed the ball and it moves prior to his commencing his stroke, the ball must be replaced on its original spot and a penalty of one stroke is incurred. That same penalty applies if it is considered that the player was deemed to have moved the ball by, for example, replacing it in such a manner that it subsequently moved. And then it becomes complicated.
The initial problem last Saturday was not so much movement of the ball as movement of the trees and bits of trees on the course. Above the Ranol green, the sight of a massive tree brought down by Friday’s gale was a stark reminder of the awesome power of the wind. It was also a stark reminder of the madness of golfers, given that both semi-finals of the Consolation Cup were played on Friday evening, in winds gusting at over 60 miles per hour.
The ability to play golf in all conditions was definitely the theme of this year’s Club Championship. The third round was completed in the wintry weather of Saturday morning and the final round had an autumnal feel. Spring and summer had come and gone on the previous weekend.
The lowest score of the day was gross 69. Three players posted that total in either the penultimate or final round. One of those was Murdo O’Brien. Two over par after the first five holes, Murdo went on to play the remaining thirteen holes in one under par for a nett 64, a remarkable round in the circumstances. His aggregate total of nett 267 gave Murdo the handicap title by the narrowest of margins. Runner up Al ‘Greens’ Macleod also achieved this overall total but his final round of nett 67 fell just short of what he needed to secure first place. Leaking five shots over the last five holes took the shine off what was an excellent round, with four birdies in an opening nine holes played in two under par.
Third place in the handicap competition went to Pat Aird, who played four steady rounds for a creditable total of nett 275.
The first gross 69 of the day was recorded by Norrie ‘Onions’ Macdonald. Birdies at the Heather and Memorial took him to the turn two under par and a solid back nine, marred only be a double bogey to finish, gave Norrie a comfortable five stroke lead going into the deciding round. His final round 75 meant an anxious wait until the last group of competitors putted out on the eighteenth green.
Colin Macritchie, the current County Champion, needed a level par final round to force a play off for the Club Champion title. In the end, he was one agonising stroke short, posting the third 69 of the day. Colin will look back on a triple bogey 7 on the Heather as a major reason for missing out but, despite that setback, Colin completed his first nine holes in just one over par, courtesy of an eagle on the Manor and birdies on the Memorial and Short. Incidentally, his eagle on the Manor made that hole Colin’s favourite of the moment, adding to birdie and eagle scored there in his previous two outings.
After taking the Western Isles Open title last month, securing the Club Championship last weekend was the culmination of a superb ten days of golf for Norrie Macdonald. Norrie also won the two midweek medals played in that same period and, in doing so, cut his handicap by 1.5, showing every sign that he is back to setting the high standards that he achieved two years ago. In the most recent of the midweek medal competitions, a Centenary Medal Stableford qualifier, second and third places were taken respectively by Innes Smith and Neil Morrison, both demonstrating a welcome return to form.
A healthy turn out in the Ladies Section seems to have been the catalyst for impressive scoring in the midweek stableford competition, with Anne Galbraith taking top spot on 40 points. Jane Nicolson was runner up with 38 points, four points ahead of third placed Flora Imrie.