With so many teams contesting the Winter League, it is no great surprise that the competition is close at this stage. The top twenty teams are separated by only 17 points.
What is surprising is the standard of competition and last weekend is as good an example as any. Teams had to reach five under par to score any points at all. The bad news is that, at this stage in the competition, a double bogey on the card is almost a guarantee that no scoring points will be collected. That makes depressing reading for those of us who make a habit of starting each round with a double bogey.
Last Saturday, 32 of the 43 competing teams posted nett rounds that were under par. The required mark for serious points was nett 41, six under par. Sharath Shetty and Andrew Sim birdied the long Caber/Foresters to offset a bogey on the Heather for a level par opening six holes. The same pattern followed on the return leg, with a bogey on the Ditch and a birdie on the Gunsite for a gross level par round. Their nett 41 was matched by two other teams and each earned 7 points.
Four pars in each half were the foundation for a solid performance by Ken MacDonald and Dave Rattray. With a handicap of ten, that level of consistency will always bring rewards.
The third team on nett 41 was Griddy Macleod and Kevin Macrae. Their rounds are generally littered with birdies but they began this round with two bogeys on their opening holes, the Miller and Ditch. The recovery was immediate, with a birdie on the Redan and an eagle on the Manor to take them under par for the outward half. The next three holes were played in par golf but consecutive birdies on the Memorial, Ranol and Caber/Foresters put a gloss on a round of gross 43. That display by Griddy and Kevin proved to be the lowest round of the day.
If avoiding double bogeys is a prerequisite of a winning score, the last few weeks suggest that being in a father and son pairing is another. Murdo and Peter O’Brien are already riding high in the overall competition and last weekend they were joined by two other similar teams.
Although being part of father and son team is an advantage, it is not necessary for both partners to put in an appearance. That was clearly demonstrated by Scott Maciver. While his father was probably sound asleep somewhere in Australia, Scott was putting together a superb solo round of nett 40 and collecting 9 points. Back to back birdies on the Gunsite and Short took Scott to two under par at the halfway stage. A bogey on his closing hole followed five consecutive pars for a gross total of 46.
Two teams shared the lowest nett score of the day on 39 and picked up 14 points apiece. Continuing the theme of father and son combinations, Arthur and Dougie Macintosh made up one of the pairs in first place. A bogey on their second hole, the Ditch, was quickly forgotten with birdies on the next three holes. On the return leg, two bogeys pegged them back but a birdie on the last kept Arthur and Dougie under par and a worrying handicap of seven did the rest of the damage.
Arthur and Dougie are now on 31 points, hot on the heels and a single point adrift of the overall leaders, Ken Galloway and John Macleod. The O’Brien family shares third spot with Martyn Macleod and Graeme Tait on 28, while their weekend efforts have lifted Sharath Shettyy and Andrew Sim into fifth position one point behind.
The second team sharing first place last weekend was the partnership of Liam Mcgeoghegan and Bob Rankin. With a handicap of ten, this pair need only put together a steady round to threaten the leaders every week. They excelled themselves last Saturday. Birdies on the Heather and Ranol were the highlights of their opening six holes, while a further birdie on the Redan ensured a share of first place for Liam and Bob. Given the necessity of having strong family connections in winning teams of late, their display begs the question of who is the Daddy in this partnership. Answers on a postcard, please.