The first and most welcome explosion is in the numbers of young people enrolling for coaching sessions. On Monday evenings, the course is swamped as in excess of seventy youngsters are tutored by a team of local golfers. The future of any club depends on young people and it is encouraging to see so much interest in golf. There is a lingering concern that some of the coaches have golfing habits that they may inadvertently pass on to their pupils: slicing, hooking, topping, to name but a few.
An explosion of similar magnitude appears to have taken place in the trolley shed. The device was probably detonated at the far end of the shed, since it is still possible to enter the building. However, once inside, trolleys and trolley parts, from wheels to spokes and handles, litter the floor. The situation is so bad that there may well be an unidentified injured golfer lying underneath the debris. Those with trolleys should make every effort to retrieve them before environmental groups are informed and the inevitable clearing up operation begins.
Small explosions on various parts of the course have become all too common. Explosions like those experienced by Peter Dickie and Richard Galloway last weekend. Both played the first nine holes in two over par, Peter having birdies at the Ard Choille and Redan, while Richard had a run of seven pars and two bogeys. With handicaps of 11 and 12 respectively, Peter and Richard were set for superb scores; but golf usually intervenes to thwart these lofty ambitions. Peter played the back nine in 41 for a respectable nett 67, while Richard had a disappointing 44 for nett 69.
Iain Morrison made a slightly larger explosion, probably aided by having a handicap of 16. He birdied the Manor and Ard Choille on his way to a halfway point of four over par. And then reality set in and ruined everything. Nevertheless, on only his second outing of the season, his scoring proves that there is still a golfer in there.
For an explosion on the scale of Mount Eyjafjallajokul, Alastair Henderson provided the unfortunate eruption. Following an excellent performance two weeks ago in the Trades Cup, Alastair gives every indication of playing a standard of golf well below his current handicap of 8. The weekend Jackson Medal Qualifier appeared to be the proof of that. Alastair began with a double bogey and then transformed his round with a run of eagles, on the Manor and Memorial, and birdies, on the Glen and Redan. Walking off the Gunsite green, he stood at two under par for the first eight holes. A par on the Short would take him to the turn in 33 strokes. But it was not to be. Instead, Alastair was into double figures before the ball went into the cup on the ninth hole. There was no way back from there.
Of course, there are golfers performing well over all eighteen holes. Or so we are told. Last weekend, Magnus Johnson, Mike Smith, Norrie O Macdonald and David Black all posted a creditable nett 66. The runner up in the Jackson Medal Qualifier went one stroke better. Liam McGeoghegan had his best round for some time with a birdie on the Caberfeidh as the icing on the cake in a nett 65. The winner by some distance was Pete Middleton. Pete has by his own admission played erratically this year and even this round had his almost mandatory triple bogey. Fortunately, that came on the first hole and the damage was partly repaired with a birdie on the third. A further birdie on the Whins was the inspiration for a back nine of only one over par. Closing out a good round is one of the most challenging hurdles in golf and, to his credit, Pete finished with four straight pars for a superb nett 62.
The Ladies’ Quaich was won by Jane Nicolson. A birdie on the Ditch made certain of victory and, despite her best efforts to throw it away on the last, she held on to beat Mairi Maciver into second place. The bonus for Jane was a cut of one stroke from her handicap.
The midweek competition was a Centenary Medal Qualifier, played in stableford points format. Murdo Alex Macleod followed his good showing from the previous weekend with a nett 65 for 39 points. In general, however, it was the low handicap golfers who took advantage of calm conditions to record excellent scores, with three tying on 40 points.
Bryan Geddes birdied the Manor and Ranol, while David Black recorded five birdies, on the Manor, Memorial, Redan, Dardanelles and Foresters. The third player on nett 64 was Cal Robertson, who posted one birdie, on the Miller, in a round that had only one bogey and sixteen pars. That consitency took him to second position.
The winner was Kevin Macrae on 41 points. His birdie on the Manor was the highlight of an outward half of 36 strokes. A superb start to the inward half of birdie, par, birdie and eagle brought him home in three under par for a nett 63.
At the time of going to press, details of the Stornoway Golf Club trip to Ullapool are still sketchy and rather incoherent. However, it does appear that Ullapool Golf Club won the match by one point and that, sadly, Pat Aird’s longstanding unbeaten run in inter club matches has now come to an end.