Weeks of anticipation of the return of eighteen hole golf came to fruition last Wednesday, with the first competition of the summer season. For some, the excitement proved too much to cope with and several rounds came to an abrupt halt on the first fairway. Or, to be precise, somewhere within the vicinity of the first fairway; the average score on the opening hole was a double bogey.
Clearly, the challenge did not become any easier as the rounds progressed. Only two competitors in a field of close to thirty made par on the fourth hole, the Glen. Similarly, only two competitors posted a nett score under par.
Andrew Mackenzie has a reputation for hitting the ball a prodigious distance but we can never be certain of the exact direction. Unfortunately, neither can Andrew. The first eight holes of his round had all the frustration of wayward tee shots and little benefit from some excellent recovery play. And then, as is often the case in golf, everything changed. Fairways were hit with regularity as Andrew completed the inward half only five strokes over par. For a young player with a handicap allowance of 26 strokes, that is a winning formula. Andrew duly put all of the early woes behind him to win the strokeplay competition with a nett 66.
In second place, Iain Moir looked to have found the form that will take him back to the single figure handicap that his general play merits. Birdies on the Manor and Memorial helped him reach the turn only two over par. Despite a struggle at the start of the inward half, Iain finished only two over par for the last six holes to post a nett 67.
Donald "DJ" Macleod followed up Winter League excellence with a gross 72, the lowest gross score of the day and enough to give him a share of third place on nett 68. His total was achieved despite two double bogeys and was largely the result of a strong finish of one under par over the last eight holes, including birdies on the Caberfeidh and Foresters.
Over forty participants took part in the first qualifying round for the Jackson Medal, played last Saturday. Once again, scoring was tough in a strong wind and, once again, the opening hole proved to be the undoing of many a round. Only three players made par on what was not so much a bogey hole as a double bogey hole - or worse - for most competitors.
Four players shared third place with nett level par rounds. Norrie "Tomsh" Macdonald followed up an ordinary round on the opening day of the season with a much more consistent display at the weekend. Iain Moir was again on form, notching birdies on the Manor and Short in an impressive outward half.
Being elevated to the club captaincy usually coincides with a disastrous lapse in golfing ability. Ex-Captain Marten James shook off the curse with his second successive nett level par round and will be particularly pleased with a solid inward half last weekend.
Scott Maciver's gross 74 was the lowest round of the day. Scott picked up one birdie on the Manor and had the distinction of making the only birdie recorded on the Heather. However, it was his level par finish over the last six holes, including a third birdie on the Caberfeidh, that lifted him into a share of third place.
In second place, Dave Gilmour recovered from a double bogey on his opening hole with birdies on the Manor and Redan. Two over par at the halfway stage, Dave managed only one more par hole on the inward half but, crucially, snatched a birdie on the Foresters to card a nett 66.
The competition winner was again Andrew Mackenzie. There were some lapses but Andrew was much more controlled at the weekend and the reward was a nett 65 and another stroke reduction in his handicap allowance. His short game was particularly impressive even when he did not benefit from the subsequent putting attempts. There is no doubt that Andrew will feature regularly in competition reports this season. His work as a green-keeping assistant will no doubt enable him to perfect his course management skills.
This weekend's event is a charity competition for the Cancer Relief Shield. The matchplay draws for competitions throughout the season have been made and the entry sheet for the Club match against Harris Golf Club should be available.