We seem to be mired in Groundhog Day in Stornoway this month. The usual scenario is that a number of golfers will turn up to play, it will begin to rain and the eventual winner of the competition will be Andrew Mackenzie. Last Wednesday was no different.
Misty rain drifted in during the afternoon but the absence of the strong winds that have prevented low scoring in previous weeks was the main factor in some excellent rounds. Almost one third of the field posted scores of par or better in the first qualifying round for the Centenary Medal.
Neil Rowlands took third place with a sparkling round that equalled the lowest gross score of the season. A superb eagle on the second hole was a good foundation for Neil to build on. A birdie on the Memorial helped him reach the halfway point one under par. There was a second birdie on the Caberfeidh, as Neil posted gross 69 for 39 stableford points.
Neil was pipped for the runner-up spot by a better inward half from Angus Innes. Angus dropped five shots on the outward half, three of those lost on one hole, the Redan. However, there were no slip-ups in the inward half and Angus went on to post nett 65, for 39 points.
It was a memorable round for Andrew Mackenzie: having broken 90 for the first time in his previous outing, he went three shots better in midweek. His nett 63 brought 41 points and Andrew chalked up his fourth victory in the first five competitions of the season. The even better news for Andrew was that his form brought an additional cut in allowance, meaning that his handicap has been cut by seven strokes in less than three weeks. That kind of achievement is generally only claimed in the fantasy world of golf equipment advertising and, even in those cases, such a drastic reduction in handicap allowance is probably considered to be a claim too far.
At this rate, Andrew will be playing scratch golf by mid-July. Unfortunately, that is not how the game works and Andrew will no doubt experience the full rollercoaster ride on his way to a single digit handicap allowance.
The ladies' midweek qualifying round for the Tuesday Medal was won by Liz Carmichael, with Jane Nicolson in second spot one stroke behind. Liz finished second in the weekend Flag competition, two strokes adrift of Rita Macdonald, who won her first trophy of the season.
The Lewis Cup was the prize on offer in the Men's Section last Saturday. In a field of close to sixty, only four broke par. David "Kiwi" Macleod birdied the Manor and Foresters for a nett 67, taking fourth place in his first outing of the year.
David Black began his round with a bogey, but quickly reversed that with successive birdies on the next two holes, reaching the halfway point one under par. The inward half had three birdies - on the Dardanelles, Caberfeidh and Avenue - as David posted the lowest gross score of the season, 66, for a nett 65 and third place. He will be playing off scratch in his next event.
Stuart Campbell had eleven pars and a birdie, on the Ranol, in an excellent round of nett 65, edging out David Black for second spot.
The winner of the Lewis Cup was an Andrew but, perhaps surprisingly, not young Andrew Mackenzie. Instead, it was Andrew Reeves, heading towards the other edge of the age spectrum and recently becoming a grandfather for the second time, who took the trophy with a scintillating nett 62.
For the first dozen holes, Andrew was playing to his handicap, but that all changed with a level par finish over the last seven holes. The highlight may have been a birdie on the Cup but it was steady golf that brought Andrew his lowest score for over a year.
Upcoming events include a May Day expedition over the Clisham for the inter-club match against Harris and another inter-club contest in Ullapool in mid-May. Before these matches, a Texas Scramble in aid of the Western Isles Golf Team will be held this Friday evening. The Team is heading to Gotland for the World Island Games in June and deserves every support, not least because all the team members have Stornoway as their home club. Entry sheets are available.
This weekend, the Healthworkers' Charity Trophy is on offer in both Men's and Ladies' Sections.