In an ever-changing world, it can be reassuring that some things remain the same. On the other hand, some of the things that never change have now become deep-rooted problems that the greatest minds on the planet cannot resolve. As a result, our daily diet of news can often seem repetitive. Last weekend, we heard once again that relations between the US and Iran remain tense, that the settlement issue still threatens to destabilise the fragile Middle East peace process, that another professional cyclist is embroiled in a another doping scandal, and that the Gillies twins have lost another couple of pounds playing what can loosely be described as golf.
That final item of news has sparked a financial crisis in the Gillies households. A bleak Christmas is in prospect. We expect an emergency budget announcement shortly detailing a package of austerity measures to address the financial black hole that has opened up in the wake of the unremitting subsidising of other teams in the Winter League.
Funding for replacement of lost golf balls and the purchase of proper winter clothing will be ring-fenced but there will be savage cuts elsewhere. All money saving options will be explored, from own brand toiletries to past sell by date vegetables and red diesel. The latter already doubles as both the fuel of choice and much sought after eau de parfum in Shawbost. An IMF spokesman indicated that the organisation is pleased that the Gillies partnership has recognised that losing money every weekend is unsustainable. The spokesman went on to say that the team will continue to meet its financial obligations every Saturday and that, although there were fears that this coalition could collapse in petty bickering over the mounting losses, the IMF is encouraged by the approach taken thus far. He added that, at some stage, the partnership would have to address the root cause of the problem – their standard of golf – which the IMF describes as “embarrassing”.
The recipients of the Gillies generosity last Saturday were Alistair and Allan Macleod. A bogey on their opening hole may have given their opponents a glimmer of hope but it was Alistair and Allan who rolled up their sleeves and from then on had birdie opportunities on almost every green. The opportunities taken on the Glen, Ranol and Caber/Foresters put them two under par at the turn. On the return leg, birdies on the Ditch and Manor gave them a gross total of 43 for nett 40 and a share of second place.
For their opponents, the most difficult aspect of having to pay up for a golfing lesson is that Alistair and Allan clearly do not need the money. That was brought into sharp focus on the Memorial as the two Als strolled down from the tee in clothing emblazoned with the designer Galvin Green logo, followed by a disconsolate John R Gillies clad in an old pair of saturated canvas trousers and second hand wellies.
Two other teams also posted nett 40 and collected 10 points each. The father and son team of Colin and Willie Macaulay played what was by their standards an ordinary opening six holes of three pars and three bogeys. They came to life after that, following up four straight pars with birdies on each of their final two holes, the Short and Manor, for an excellent two under par second half.
David Black and Ewen Morrison had a more consistent round. Birdies on the Redan and Manor helped them to a two under par total at the halfway stage. A string of pars and a birdie on the Manor to finish gave them a gross total of 44. Their handicap had already been cut to 4 but even that did not last long and next week they will play off 3.
The winners by two clear strokes were Sharath Shetty and Andrew Sim, a pairing that has made an impressive start to this year’s Winter League. A birdie on the Redan followed by an eagle on the Manor made for a superb three under par total for their first six holes. A bogey on the Heather threatened to derail the challenge, but birdies on their two closing holes, the Ranol and Caber/Foresters, ensured a comfortable victory for Sharath and Andrew. Their gross 43 matched that of Alistair and Allan Macleod and was the lowest score of the day.
Sharath and Andrew have now amassed 44 points and opened up a lead of six points in the overall competition. To counterbalance that, their handicap has been halved from 6 to 3. In second place are David Black and Ewen Morrison, three points ahead of the third-placed team of Alistair and Allan Macleod on 35 points. One point adrift, sharing fourth position are Ken Galloway and John A Macleod and Arthur and Dougie Macintosh.