WINTER LEAGUE HITS THE HOME STRAIGHT
I am planning to start a self-help group. I looked it up on the internet and a self-help group was defined as a group of people whose members generally share a common problem, often a disease or addiction, and provide mutual support for each other. That sounds good enough for me.
The group is for those who regularly let down their playing partners during the Winter League. Letting down can simply be not turning up to play but it refers more specifically to those moments when you are called upon to make a contribution to the team and almost always fail to deliver. These are the occasions when your partner uncharacteristically plays a poor shot and asks, "How are you placed?" and you reply, "My ball is in the bushes" or even more tragically, "My ball is in my pocket."
These are the occasions when, to allow your partner to take on a birdie putt with more confidence, you offer to hole out for par and then timidly dribble the ball past the hole.
I appreciate that it is quite late in the day (the last day of Winter League to be precise) to be starting the group, but it is better late than never. I would put my own name forward to chair the group but I realise that I will probably let down the members. The chair should really be someone who basically cannot be bothered to get out of bed to lend support to a Winter League colleague; that is the sort of selfish streak that is needed to lead a bunch of inveterate failures.
The main purpose of the group will be to let members know that they are not alone and that, in fact, there are a lot of us out there. I genuinely hope there are.
Teams usually curse their bad luck rather than turning on one another, of course, and the penultimate round of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League had more than its fair share of hard luck stories.
Willie Macaulay and Donald "Sweeney" Macsween actually began their round with a stroke of incredible luck. Willie's tee shot on the Avenue rebounded from the roof of the Club House back onto the course, landing next to the green. However, their round ended with consecutive bogeys that cost them six points and the outright lead in the overall competition.
Norrie "Tomsh" Macdonald and Murdo Maclennan bogeyed their last hole, which deprived them of the additional three points that would have given them a share of the overall lead.
For the first time in a few weeks, a two under par nett total earned a point but the winning total was three strokes better than that. Three teams picked up a dozen points apiece for a nett 41 on what was, without doubt, the most beautiful day of Winter League play.
Darren Beattie and David "Spider" Macleod played in the morning and set the total to aim at with a solid round. A birdie on their opening hole, the Avenue, meant that, despite a bogey on the Ranol, they reached the halfway point in level par. A bogey on the Redan was the only blip in an otherwise par inward half.
John Cunningham and Scott Maciver birdied the Redan on their way to a one under par outward half. It was a similar story on the inward half, with a birdie on the Avenue giving them an excellent two under par gross total.
Kevin Macrae and Griddy Macleod have played together only three times this winter but still blitzed the course after a bogey start on the Avenue. There were birdies on the Manor, Ranol and Cup/Foresters in the opening half and another two, on the Gunsite and Long Caberfeidh, on the return, as Kevin and Griddy carded a gross 42.
More than twenty teams still have a mathematical chance of winning the Winter League and there are less than ten points between the major challengers. Angus Innes and Lewis Mackenzie are in eighth position on 40 points, one point behind Richard Galloway and Cal Robertson.
Pat Aird and Arthur Macintosh share fifth place on 42 points with Willie Macaulay and Donald Macsween. There are also two pairings tied for third spot: Colin Macritchie and Innes Smith are joined by Norrie "Tomsh" Macdonald and Murdo Maclennan on 44 points.
David and Michael Black remain in second position on 46 points, one adrift of current leaders Donald and DJ Macleod.