GOLFING TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED
There has been a series of unusual events at Stornoway Golf Club recently. Firstly, one of the junior members, Cailean Linklater, achieved what many senior members cannot do in a lifetime. A wonderful tee shot on the eighteenth hole disappeared from sight but, when he and his playing partners reached the green, the ball was nowhere to be seen. Just before accepting that his ball had disappeared into the rough behind the green, one of the group glanced into the hole, saw the ball and Cailean had his first hole in one. Cailean has a good golfing pedigree: his uncle is Colin Macritchie and his grandfather, Iain Macritchie, is still regularly in the hunt for trophies in Stornoway.
The new balcony at the Clubhouse, overlooking the final hole of the course has proved to be an excellent improvement to the facilities. Unfortunately, it is fast becoming a magnet for wayward golf balls from various directions. One of the most unusual was a ball that struck the balcony from the second tee. Ali Gillies is one of the few members capable of hitting the ball that distance and his monstrous drive could probably have qualified for the accolade of the most stunning shot ever to have landed on the balcony.
Sadly for Ali, his moment of glory was short-lived, thanks to Kenny "Wang" Macleod. Kenny's tee shot on the Avenue, the final hole, carved left and landed on the balcony before bouncing through the half open door and rolling across the floor of the upstairs lounge. By the time Kenny arrived in the lounge, his ball was perched at the bar enjoying its second gin and tonic: that would hardly have been more unlikely than the shot itself.
In 1999, the official opening of the new clubhouse at Ullapool Golf Club by HRH Prince Andrew coincided with the annual visit of a team from Stornoway Golf Club for an inter-club match. Prince Andrew donated a trophy for the occasion and that trophy has been played for by the clubs every year since then. It is important to maintain these competitions, not only for historical reasons but also because the relationships built between the clubs are a learning experience and can open doors to further development of competition with mainland clubs.
There are many other demands on golfers' time and the struggle to raise teams for mainland visits means depleted numbers travelling which, compounded by playing in unfamiliar territory, often results in embarrassing defeat. The unusual event of the week, therefore, must be that the ragbag dozen wandering bleary-eyed onto the Loch Seaforth early last Saturday morning for the annual fixture in Ullapool returned bleary-eyed that evening victorious by four games to two.
It was no surprise that the hospitality shown by the host club was impeccable. What really stood out was the condition of the course. The fairways are in superb condition for this time of year and the greens must be the envy of clubs across the north of Scotland. Credit is due to those who gave up a Saturday to represent their Club and put in such a creditable performance. The course itself is well worth a visit, providing a good challenge in a beautiful setting, nestling beside the shores of Loch Broom.
The midweek event in Stornoway was the competition for the TCB Cup. Pleasant conditions helped towards good scoring, with around a third of the forty strong field posting nett scores of level par or better.
Iain Mackay proved his previous score of nett 65 was no fluke by carding a nett 67 to take fourth place. Another in that category was third-placed Bryan Geddes, following up a nett 62 with an impressive nett 67; even more impressive was his level par inward half, which included a birdie on the Cup.
Colin Gilmour finished off his outward half with a disappointing double bogey on the Short but that was put behind him very quickly. His last six holes were played out in level par, thanks in part to a birdie on the Caberfeidh. Colin equalled his best gross total of the season and his nett 66 took him into the runner-up spot.
Darren Beattie was the emphatic winner of the TCB Cup, breaking 80 for the first time in his competitive career. A birdie on the Manor was an early highlight but Darren's play improved as the round went on and a second birdie on the Foresters resulted in a nett 62.