There will be coverage elsewhere in the Gazette of the Nicolson Institute Under-15 Girls’ historic victory in the Scottish Schools Shield final. One of the most impressive statistics of their performance was that, after giving their all in regulation time, the girls scored eight out of ten penalty kicks to secure the win. One penalty hit the bar, one was saved, and the rest were dispatched with aplomb. None was fluffed, none skied over the bar and none blasted wide.
The steely determination required to step up calmly when so much is at stake takes an extraordinary amount of character. Any golfer who has stood on the eighteenth tee at the business end of an outstanding round will appreciate the tension of being within sight of the winning line – but not quite there. Whether it is knees buckling, hands trembling, parched mouth, heart pounding, mind racing or all of the above, it takes a huge effort to ensure that the ball actually leaves the tee. Sending it in the general direction of the green is a welcome bonus.
A cursory look at the finishing holes of the midweek Bain Morrison Shield competition gives a fairly good indication of how golfers regularly stumble within reach of victory. The winner and runner-up each played the final three holes in level par. The next five places were taken by competitors, each of whom was in a good position to win the event standing on the sixteenth tee. Somewhere, somehow, between there and the bitter end, the famous five managed to drop twenty shots to par. As is often said, the most important distance measurement in sport is that between the right and left ears.
The winner of the Bain Morrison Shield was Norrie “Onions” Macdonald, who plays almost no golf during the winter months and yet still manages to stroll onto the course in spring and continue where he left off last autumn. Norrie picked up three birdies in an outward half of one under par. A further two birdies helped to a superb two under par gross score and nett 64. His reward is a cut in handicap to 1 and there is certainly the potential for Norrie to return to scratch golf this season
Griddy Macleod took second spot with nett 66 after a solid round, with birdies on the Manor and Miller. He is showing every sign of taking his handicap to new lows this year. That was confirmed by his performance in the Healthworkers Charity Trophy event last weekend.
It is common knowledge that Griddy is averse to winter weather, which explains his erratic appearances during the Winter League. However, with the sun shining brightly on a clear spring evening, it was no surprise to see him on the course. Ninety minutes later, the course was struck by a hailstorm driven by a fierce wind and the temperature plummeted below zero. Despite the arctic blast, Griddy picked up birdies on the Manor and Heather and an eagle on the Caberfeidh on his way to a nett 64 and a two stroke margin of victory.
The runner up was Stewart Davidson on nett 66, with birdies on the Memorial, Redan and Avenue. Stewart is a new member this year and a prodigious hitter off the tee. Once he masters the greens in Stornoway, Stewart will find his handicap falling dramatically.
Paul Maclean continued his good early season form to take third spot on nett 67, one stroke ahead of Peter O’Brien and Andrew Reeves. Iain Macritchie finished well down in the pecking order but he did have one memorable moment in his round: a hole in one on the Avenue.
The ladies played for the Health Board Trophy, with Jane Nicolson claiming victory after an excellent round of nett 64. Gill Chadwick was runner up. Jane Nicolson took second place in the midweek competition, which was won by Donna Young.
The first Monday in May is traditionally the date for the first leg of the match between Stornoway and Harris Golf Clubs. The clubs compete for the Roineaval Trophy and this year, the event was held in Scarista in glorious sunshine. The hospitality and surroundings were second to none but the golf proved to be a little one-sided, to put it mildly. A sound thrashing meant that the Stornoway team bus headed north at breakneck speed over the Clisham in case any locals asked about the score.
It was only once they crossed the border that the Stornoway team felt able to relax and even then, with John “Shillegan” Gillies at the wheel, some passengers remained in a state of hypertension until they reached home. A minor miracle will be required in the second leg if Stornoway is to prevent the Roineaval Trophy remaining in Harrris for a second year.
This weekend sees the first of the 36 hole competitions of the season. Juniors and seniors compete for the Kenneth Mackenzie Jubilee Trophy, while the ladies have a medal qualifying competition.