BIRDIE BLITZ AND LOW SCORES
In keeping with the time of year, there was quite the display of fireworks in the latest round of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League last weekend. Some players were probably inspired by the lunar cycle: the full moon tends to have that effect.
With almost everyone else hoping that the form of this year's Winter League leaders might dip, Andy Macdonald and Neil Rowlands demonstrated that a plus handicap is really no handicap when you can take the course apart in almost any conditions. Their ten point lead at the top of the overall league table looked like being extended when the pair went to five under par after seven holes. However, the course fought back and, despite finishing four under par gross, there were no points for the nett 47 posted by Andy and Neil.
Norrie Mackenzie proved that age is no barrier to good golf, with birdies on the Memorial and Avenue. Meanwhile, a mere "Balach", Norman Morrison, was showing that having a ridiculous handicap doesn't mean that birdies are hard to find. After opening with two bogeys, Norman chipped in for a birdie on the Heather. And, in an attempt to prove that was no stroke of luck, Norman repeated the feat on the next hole. However, even that was not enough to earn points on a day of low scoring.
Eddie Mackenzie is another name worthy of mention; more accurately, his putter deserves a mention. Despite scoring for his team on every hole, Eddie only used his putter fourteen times. Three single putts to save par on each of the first three holes is as good an example as any of the kind of day Eddie had. In fact, by the time it came to the penultimate hole, the Gunsite, Eddie had all but dispensed with the putter. With his partner in close in two strokes, Eddie stole his thunder by chipping in for a birdie. Eddie and Sandy Bruce had that putter to thank for a nett 44, which brought seven points. In all, six pairings were tied in third place with Eddie and Sandy.
One stroke better, a dozen points were the reward for Garry Murray and Eddie Rodgers. One over par after the opening hole, playing in the company of Andy Macdonald and Neil Rowlands, is not, as they say, an ideal start. Garry and Eddie recovered quickly and a birdie on the Cup helped them back to level par at the halfway mark. After a bogey on the Castle, back to back birdies on the Dardanelles and Redan followed and Garry and Eddie finished one under par gross, a gross total beaten only by their playing partners.
The winning total was the nett 42 posted by Paul Moorby and Robbie Ross, playing in their debut Winter League together. Their outward half was the epitome of consistency, with six straight par holes. There were successive bogeys on the Castle, Dardanelles and Redan but Paul and Robbie recovered to pick up maximum points and leapfrog over most of the teams in the competition.
This weekend will be the first competitive outing on a new course layout. It is a shorter version, taking account of the fading light in mid-afternoon for the next few months. There are two hybrid holes, the first being a short par 4 played from the Dardanelles tee to the Ranol green. For some of us, the Ranol green is often the unintended destination for tee shots played from the Dardanelles tee. We can take it for granted, now that we are trying to do exactly this, that the Ranol green is the last place the ball will come to rest for the foreseeable future. We may not even make it to the green in two shots.
The second hybrid hole is the more familiar monster played from the sixteenth tee to the seventeenth green. An accurately placed tee shot is required to find the gap through which the second can be played to the green. Unfortunately, the words "accurately placed" immediately rule out many of the Winter League participants, who will generally find themselves trying to play a second shot over, or occasionally through, the trees between the Cup and Foresters fairways.
As a welcome diversion from Winter League, the Ken MacDonald & Co sponsored TeXmas Scramble competition will be held on 9 December. Entry sheets, allowing the option of selecting a starting hole, are available in the Men's locker-room. All club members welcome.