STAYING DRY IN THE SUNSHINE
It may be an age thing, or simply an indication of how little I get out and about these days, but the most exciting moment in my life in the last few weeks has been my discovery of waterproof socks. I have a good idea what you're thinking and, yes, I had exactly the same reaction when they were first mentioned.
I had imagined a plastic contraption that would resemble the kind of boot you have to wear when you have a broken ankle. The reality was somewhat different. They were similar to trainer socks and, despite being inside waterlogged shoes for hours on a golf course, they were not only dry afterwards but also odour free. It's a miracle.
For the past decade, I have played golf with wet feet for around eight months of the year. Even at my lowest ebb, wearing a fetching pair of wellington boots with spikes attached, my feet were still damp at the finish. I firmly believe that if I had been able to play golf wearing properly waterproof clothing and, in particular, shoes, I could have been a single figure handicap golfer. With feet that didn't have the texture of a prune.
I have now been wearing the socks for a month. Only on Saturdays, of course, and they have been washed now and again. My golf has improved to the extent that there are now moments when I can almost help out my Winter League partner, Ken Galloway. Unfortunately, there are occasions when squelching through the more sodden parts of the course that I experience the strange sensation that my feet must be wet, a sensation promptly followed by a loss of confidence as I revert to type. The "drenched golfer who loses control of his club during a restricted swing" type. Needless to say, when I take off my shoes and socks at the end of every round, my feet are bone dry.
The only thing required to make my sporting life complete is the invention of trousers and a fleece made of the same material as the socks. Somewhere out there is someone with the ability to do exactly that. It's the only stumbling block between me and scratch golf.
Last weekend, as Hurricane Brian visited other parts of the country, Stornoway basked in sunshine; the gentle breeze suggested that scoring would be low in the third round of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League. Scoring was indeed low, with the handful of pairings who battled round to record nett 45, four under par, rewarded with a solitary point. Spare some sympathy for Angus Innes and Lewis Mackenzie, whose nett 45 was their best performance of an impressive campaign in which they have already posted nett scores of 48 and 47 and earned the aggregate total of a paltry three points.
Amongst the four teams on nett 44 were David and Michael Black; their two under par gross total was the best of the day and the resulting six points seemed scant reward for their effort.
At the serious end of the scoring chart, three teams recorded nett 43 and picked up ten points apiece. Angus Macarthur and Neil Maciver dropped only four strokes in an excellent round to collect their first points of the year.
Norrie "Tomsh" Macdonald and Murdo Maclennan opened with a bogey but a birdie on the Dardanelles restored parity and they completed the outward half in level par. They reeled off another six par holes to post a level par round.
The father and son partnership of Donald and DJ Macleod also posted nett 43. They birdied their first two holes, the Avenue and Castle, and, despite dropping a shot on the Gunsite, Donald and DJ reached the halfway mark one under par. The inward half was a procession of par holes.
Stuart Beaufoy and Donald DA Stewart were the only pairing to record nett 42, the lowest total in the Winter League to date, and they earned fifteen points as the weekend winners, with their first cut in handicap allowance as a bonus. A birdie on the Memorial was the highlight of the outward half, while a birdie on the Castle turned out to be the difference between victory and a share of second spot.
Finally, a brief reminder that the annual prizegiving is just over a fortnight away. It would be helpful if last year's winners return their trophies, highly polished of course, as soon as possible.