Pensioners love midweek golf. They can roll out of bed around lunchtime and have the butler deliver them to the Golf Club in time for a relaxed afternoon of competition. The same routine is followed by offshore workers on leave and other assorted characters, such as taxi drivers and shift workers. For those employed under normal working hours, it is a different story.
Rushing from work straight onto the course is never the best preparation for competition; but running to the first tee to avoid a penalty for late arrival is not the only problem. There is an additional irritation.
The late afternoon race from work means that golf clothing usually has to be thrown into a bag at around 8am. The type of clothing suitable for Stornoway in May ranges from arctic thermal to tropical linen – often worn at the same time. Close attention to the weather forecast will determine how many layers are packed; and that is where the problem lies. The weather forecast is like Kenny John Macleod’s golf swing: you feel compelled to watch although you know there is something far wrong with it.
Last Wednesday, all online forecasts showed a large yellow ball, pulsing in some cases, over Stornoway from 4pm until sundown. In fact, when a glance outside would suffice to reach the conclusion that there was heavy black cloud cover and that it was raining steadily, the Met Office weather map showing current conditions still insisted that there was wall to wall sunshine. That cannot even be considered poor weather forecasting: it is basic observation gone wrong.
Those golfers who had placed their trust in the forecast were deluged. By the time the third hole was reached, their summer attire had absorbed enough water to end the hosepipe ban in East Anglia. No one should complain about playing golf in the rain. What is worth complaining about is playing golf in the rain while impersonating a wet sponge.
The stress of the frantic race to the first tee does have the advantage of providing one of the most common excuses for appalling scoring. Very often that excuse is required within five seconds of the ball being driven up the Castle fairway. Peter Grant was probably rehearsing his excuses at that very moment in his round. An 8 on the first hole is hardly the prelude to a winning score but Peter settled down to steady golf for the remainder of the round. His 41 points proved to be the winning total in the Centenary Medal qualifying competition.
Two points behind, Steven Bryden knocked another stroke off his handicap, while Dave Sandison, making his first competitive appearance for eight months, carded a creditable 37 points in third position.
The weekend competition was for the Trades Cup. Teams of four, drawn by profession or trade, compete for a trophy with their best three aggregated individual scores. There is always added interest for those who are not entirely sure of what they actually do for a living; their team category should help. Norrie “Onions” Macdonald may have thought that he was a postman but discovered that, for Trades Cup purposes, he is some sort of gardener.
Norrie, the Club’s Greens Convener this year, was part of the Greenkeepers team that eventually won the team event. His nett 69 was added to the nett 67 posted by Cal Robertson and the nett 68 returned by world famous horticulturalist Pat Aird to give an aggregate score of 204. The fourth member of the team, Alistair Macleod, had a useful nett 71, which turned out to be crucial in deciding the winning team.
The Finance team also had an aggregate total of 204, thanks to international financier Kevin “Lava” Macleod (nett 65), Iain “Boozy” Macdonald (nett 66) and Murdo Maclennan (nett 73). The fourth member of the team, Norman L Macdonald, could not better nett 71 and so the Greenkeepers ran out worthy winners.
The individual competition was won by Peter O’Brien. There will be a rush to purchase whatever performance enhancing substances Peter has been taking – clearly in large doses – during the month of May. Whether it is porridge, stout or something more exotic, some desperate souls will adopt the O’Brien Diet in the forlorn hope that it will work for them. Peter had already taken two strokes off his handicap earlier in the month and added another to that with an excellent nett 63 last weekend. He had two purple patches in his round: five consecutive birdies in the opening nine and a strong finish sparked by a birdie on the Caberfeidh.
Kevin “Lava” Macleod, a member of the team finishing second in the team event, was also runner up in the individual competition, thanks to a return to form in the shape of a nett 65. A birdie on the Ard Choille was the highlight of his outward half and a finish of level par over the last five holes helped him clinch the runner up spot.
Bryan Geddes and Iain “Boozy” Macdonald each carded nett 66 to take third and fourth places respectively.
The ladies’ midweek Cancer Relief Stableford was won by Mary Joyce with Liz Carmichael in second place. Donna Young won the weekend Charity Bowl competition with a solid nett 72. Liz Carmichael surprisingly found herself in third position in this event, pipped for her regular runner up spot by Rita MacDonald.