Fresh from a winter of underachievement where the tag of “contenders” or “possible favourites” weighed too heavily on his and partner Kenny MacIver’s shoulders, Alan MacLeod emerged from his recent slumber, producing a magnificent round of 61 ( nett) on Saturday last, to win the medal qualifier, and shave two shots off his handicap. If anyone deserves to be heading for a lower handicap, then Alan is, without doubt, as deserving as it gets. Seldom off the course when his working day is complete, he puts in the time, practice and effort to improve his game, and has, over the short number of years since taking up the game, become as competitive as any golfer in the club.
Second on the day, and a man for whom practice is usually greeted with a shrug of the shoulders, was Norrie “Onions” MacDonald. Norrie is one of a very few naturally gifted players in the club for whom technical ability, advances in equipment, technology and constant practice (whilst important their own right) are of little importance. He is part of a select group of players who rely on pure touch and feel, and their inherent skill with a club and ball (whilst infuriating to us mortals who really struggle) will always do more than just get them by. Having seen his handicap increase to one latterly, he is now back down to “scratch” and but for a three putt on the “Ranol” would have tied for the top spot. His 64 gross was, as playing partner Al “Greens” MacLeod described “effortless, it could easily have been a 61”. With the course in excellent condition, and with Rhodes 2007 on the horizon, the “big guns” , Norrie , Andy MacDonald, Kevin MacRae and David Black, along with Colin MacRitchie and several other low handicappers will look to shoot in the low 60’s and challenge the course record of 62 set only last year. The players who will represent the Western Isles will look to show rest why they are the on the plane to the sun.
Despite the conditions, again the course proved hard to master for the majority of the field. Only 8 scores beat the standard scratch, proving that, as mentioned last week, despite being short in yards from tee to green, it is a great test of golf.
Scoring, however, was not the major talking point of the day.
For the first time that I can remember, the issue of slow play, which has been debated in the club for several years, was addressed by the Match & Handicap committee. I know that several of the golfers involved may feel that they were unjustly “targeted” by the letter which they were given, but they, and everyone else in the club, need to understand that whilst words are cheap, actions come with some costs, notably those involved in upsetting the norm. The norm has been too often that we ignore the issue, and hope it goes away. It didn’t, and that is why the brave decision was taken to deal with it. With rounds taking up to 4 hours for a three-ball completing 18 holes in perfect golfing conditions, people walking off the course rather than endure further “misery” (yes it can be miserable playing badly and slowly) and no-one paying the slightest cognisance to any of the suggestions made in this column, around the clubhouse, or at the bar, something had to be done. The letter was aimed at the “pace setters” who were out amongst the leaders in the morning and afternoon. It urged them to be less tardy, and to encourage anyone in a slow playing group to address the matter with playing partners taking too long to play the course. It gave them the full backing of the committee to do so, and also some (further) tips on how to avoid slow play.
It could have been anyone involved in slow play who received the letters, but the message was clear: it will be, and is being addressed. It is not acceptable, and it will not be tolerated. It is being argued that people need to take their time, to be more deliberate in their play, to score well.
Norrie Onions (and his two playing partners) went round in THREE hours on Saturday.
He shot 64.
Davy and Jan MacLennan both continued their recent excellent form, making it a family midweek double, winning their relative medal qualifiers. Well done both. In the ladies Texas Scramble on Saturday, Rita, Anne and Christine triumphed with a fine 65.5.
As the golfing preparations for the Island Games gets underway with the team showing some excellent form early in the season, it is especially pleasing to note the fantastic support already given to us by several local businesses. We appreciate that the demands placed on everyone in the local communities by groups such as ourselves, other charitable organisations and people looking for sponsorship for many other deserving causes can seem excessive at times. Sometimes it must seem as if there is someone at your doors daily looking for your help with their cause. Many apologies all, but as an Island we are very grateful for your continued support.
Ken MacDonald of Ken MacDonald Lawyers, who does more than his share for the club in general, was one of our earliest contributors, as was Paul MacLean, of MacLean, Mair & Nicolson. Another couple of fine town “institutions” also contributed, Donald Mathieson of Roddy Smiths ( Books), and the newly acquired , but old established, firm of Kenneth MacKenzie ( Holdings ) ltd. (Stickies Mill to you and me). Despite indicating support for another team participating at the games, we also received a contribution from Anderson, MacArthur & Co, and are grateful as a combined Island Team for their wonderful generosity.
We are still looking for contributions, either towards the team, or towards the fund raising raffle being held on the 1st of June after the Texas Scramble. Call me on 07799 765608, or send an e-mail to
or you know where the Golf club is to get in touch.
Don’t let the picture scare you.