In a normal sporting context, the result of the match between the to two top teams in the CarHire Hebrides Winter League at Stornoway, last weekend, would have been the most eagerly awaited over these past five months.
That either of the teams could have outscored each other, however, mattered not a jot.
Bragging rights aren’t important in March.
Winning a whole pound in defeating your opponents is meaningless, at the ‘sharp-end’, unless scoring points are claimed.
The fact that D.J & Donnie MacLeod and David & Michael Black squared up to each other, whilst sitting jointly on 45 points at the top of the table, with just three weeks remaining; in any other scenario would surely have attracted a crowd.
Some interest maybe?
Golfers, however, are a hugely parochial lot.
Every single other contestant, and there were approximately seventy of them, were too busy dismissing flying figs and concentrating intently on their own battle for for insignificance.
The two best teams certainly served up a feast of golf, despite being their own audience.
A slow start saw D.J. & Donnie steal an early lead with the Blacks failing to par the longer, par-3, ‘Ditch’.
Then the real fireworks began.
D.J. drove the, 280 yd, par-4, ‘Gunsite’ and holed his putt for an eagle. Young Black’s birdie was scant consolation for them, although it did restore par.
Donnie then stepped in to keep the MacLeods on track, parring the ‘Short’ via a carefully executed ricochet off a tree, followed by parring the ‘Avenue’ after a dreaded shank.
In between, D.J. threw in yet another birdie, his ball rounding the hole twice before dropping in for a three at the ‘ Long Cabarfeidh’.
Some ‘regular’ par golf, unusual by the standards both teams have shown thus far, set up a grandstand finish.
The Blacks somehow managed a birdie three at the ‘Ranol’ from deep within the trees, whilst somehow their opponents contrived a three-putt, double-bogey.
This just made them angry.
The next hole, ‘Dardanelles’, at it’s full length one of the ‘most difficult par-5s in Scotland’ (from days gone by), has been shortened to make the flag visible from the tee.
It’s has been reduced to a par-4, driveable by the more accomplished long hitters.
Naturally both youngsters managed with relative ease.
D.J. ,however, holed his putt for yet another eagle whilst Davie could ‘only’ manage another birdie.
The last hole is the hybrid, ‘Cup-Foresters’, stretching over two fairways, separated by a road, some trees, and with an out of bounds down the left.
Sensible players hit a 9-iron into position, a fairway wood down towards the hole, then possibly a wedge into the green.
Not the ‘big guys’.
Reduced to a full drive and a wedge, a birdie (or better) is always a possibility.
Both lipped out their eagle attempts and settled for ‘just’ a minor avian dinosaur.
Three consecutive birdies by the Blacks, 44(47) to lose by a staggering four shots to a dominant D.J. & Donnie 42(43).
The defending champions response to their opponents drawing level, last week, in the race for the league title, emphatic.
They managed just 2 points to open up a slight gap, but it may well prove hugely significant.
How did I get the details of their match?
A birdie told me.
It might have been an eagle.
It definitely wasn’t a panda.
Winners on the day and putting themselves squarely into contention with enough time to make a huge impact, were the ‘Georges’, Mould and MacLeod.
With just two dropped shots and a birdie on their way ‘out’, a level par inward half for 47(39) claimed top spot on the day, and a full 15 points, by a comfortable two shot margin.
Now on 37 points, they still have a handicap of five.
Handily placed or what?
There were other significant moves also.
Ally Gillies and Bryan Geddes threw four birdies at the course for their 43(41) and 10 scoring points. But for a dropped shot at the ‘Millar’ their reward would have been greater.
Cal Robertson and Richard Galloway dropped no shots and also managed a 43(41) for similar reward.
A birdie at the ‘Long Cabar’ was their only dent in the course for ten holes completed with monotonous proficiency.
Finishing with a brace (of birdies) at the ‘Dardanelles’ and ‘Cup-Foresters’ threw them squarely into the ‘decent’ category.
Both teams, although now off scratch, find themselves within touching distance of the leaders.
They will need to find a superlative round from somewhere to make up the distance.
Spare a thought for former club captain, Marten James, who had been leader in the clubhouse for most of the day after his morning round 51(41).
With partner Donnie Graham hiding as far as possible away from events unfolding at Twickenham, it was left to Marten to throw his best golf of the last 25 years at the new layout.
He was delighted with his 10 points.
Then he went home to watch the rugby.
The top of the table now has 1) D.J. & Donnie MacLeod (+1) on 47 points, 2) David & Michael Black (+3) on 45 points and 3=) Murdo MacLennan & N.T. MacDonald (1) and Angus Innes & Lewis MacKenzie (0) on 40 points.
No fewer than thirteen teams are still within a win (15 points) of the lead.
Down at Scarista, things have a familiar ring about them.
My correspondent Hugh MacLean can’t quite figure out whether he is a fan or wants to kill him.
“No one can stop the juggernaut that is Simon Hunt. Needing just a reasonable score to clinch the winter league (gross) title, he goes and shoots a one over par round of 53 (to a par of 52).
Impressive scoring given the conditions.
He also managed to take the nett honours for the day. Playing off a handicap of seven his splendid score of 46 narrowly edged first place.
He also managed to squirrel away a decent portion of the sweep money.
His chest size is 46,Hat size...! So all in all a good day for Mr Simon.
Giving him a run for his money was the mighty (Chris) Sutton who posted a grand 63(47).
This also meant that a fair proportion of sweep money was seen heading in the direction of Tarbert!
Good scoring from the big man.
In third place with a gross 60(49) was the Luskentyre Doc, Bill Cross.
Billy ‘The Beard’ Scott went out in 27 but forgot to come back (37) The rest a motley crew of no returns and no ideas.”
Following last week’s A.G.M. at Askernish and the Bovril showers which had plagued golfers the week before, there may be a good reason why ZuckerCampbell is keeping quiet.
I will poke gently with a stick just in case the subs have gone through the roof.