From first light, the sun split a cloudless sky, with a warm breeze nudging the temperature to 20 degrees. Kenny Dalglish, along with another eighty golfers, competed for the Alcan Trophy. A film crew making a documentary roamed across the course. D R Macdonald was serving soup and sandwiches in the clubhouse. It was another typical October day in Stornoway.
The RBS Dalglish Bethesda Challenge celebrated its fourth anniversary last weekend in stunning conditions. As always, the golf played a secondary role in what is essentially an occasion for fundraising. This year will see the overall amount raised by these events move into six figures, an achievement that is not only testimony to the continuing support of Kenny and Marina Dalglish and the Royal Bank of Scotland but also due in large measure to the organisational skills and commitment of Bethesda staff and the unstinting support of islanders.
The team competition was peppered with excellent individual efforts. Kenny Dalglish himself returned nett 66, all the more impressive because he only plays the course every two years. John Mackinnon picked up 38 stableford points, while David ‘Kiwi’ Macleod and Mig Macleod contributed 39 points to their team totals. The individual winner of the Alcan Trophy was Duncan A Maclean with a superb 41 points.
The team competition was closely fought, with only 15 points separating all twenty teams. The RBS sponsor team amassed 50 points in their outward half but, fortunately, a few stray shots on the back nine spared them the embarrassment of winning their own competition. And despite Kenny Dalglish’s best efforts on behalf of his partners, the only hand-picked team of the event did not measure up to expectations.
The runners up in the team competition amassed 93 points as the aggregate total of their best two scores on each hole. Jamie Duncan, Kenny John Macleod, John A Macdonald and Kevin ‘Lava’ Macleod each played a part. They scored 7 points on the Manor, thanks mainly to Kevin’s birdie, while Kenny John’s birdie on the Foresters helped them to another 7 points on that hole.
The winning team began their round with only three players. Iain ‘Boozy’ Macdonald, who spends almost all of his spare time at the club trying to keep the wolf from the door, clearly looked at the names of his playing partners on the team sheet and decided that he could have the luxury of a long lie. He made his presence felt on arrival with four points on the Foresters. Picking up 8 points on the Heather was the team highlight and another 7 were added on the Manor. There were several other holes that brought them 6 points apiece and the combination of Liz Carmichael, John Gillies, Iain Macdonald and Iain Macritchie won the team trophy by a single point.
Mig Macleod won the prize for being nearest the hole on the Short although, having put his tee shot to eight feet, the excitement almost overcame him and he omitted to replace the flag, leaving the following team to guess where the hole was on the green.
The day was completed with a gala dinner for around 200 guests courtesy of the Caberfeidh Hotel, with the ingredients of a superb meal donated by island businesses. In times of economic uncertainty, the contributions from local firms in sponsoring the golf teams and supporting the gala dinner are greatly appreciated. The individual donations from all those involved in the golf tournament and dinner guests are humbling. It is clear that Bethesda merits all the assistance it can muster in maintaining and improving the care it shows to those in need and their families; last weekend was yet more proof that Bethesda remains close to island hearts.
As far as golf is concerned, and despite the balmy weather of last weekend, it is now officially winter. The first round of the Winter League competition takes place on Saturday and, at this early stage, it seems that many of the regular partnerships will once again challenge for the title. The teams, and their chances of success, will be examined in coming weeks. The course layout for the next six weeks has a par of 47 and sees the return of the long Caberfeidh/Foresters. That is marginally preferable to the Cup/Foresters, which will doubtless make an appearance in due course.