Excuse Number 279 for playing atrocious golf in perfect conditions: attempting to use a Bowel Screening Test Kit four hours before teeing off. Every male over the age of 50 is now routinely sent a Test Kit and all the evidence points to the conclusion that early diagnosis of bowel cancer saves lives. The Test Kit itself is fairly simple: can a test kit be any simpler when its main component is a lollipop stick? Nevertheless, in practical terms, using the kit is both physically demanding and mentally challenging. Enough said. However, it is worth noting that this excuse can really only be used once every two years.
One might have imagined that adding up the scores for the Texas Scramble competition between the Golf Club and the Sea Angling Club would be neither physically demanding nor mentally challenging. With Gordon Kennedy, the acclaimed Comhairle Calculator, in charge of arithmetic for the evening, confidence in the veracity of the results process was understandably high. In fact, the results took almost no time to verify, thanks to Gordon's lightning fast electronic abacus, and the Sea Angling Club emerged victorious by the narrowest of margins. Speeches were made and the awards ceremony completed. Some time later, questions were raised about the competence of the Comhairle Calculator and a hastily arranged recount revealed that the Golf Club had in fact won the match comfortably. Since the result was unimportant in any case, that made no difference to what was an excellent event.
Peter Dickie had to endure a physically demanding and mentally challenging ordeal of his own making in last weekend's Flag Competition. Having carefully manufactured a useful score over the first eight holes, Peter took more strokes than he has fingers (and possibly toes) to move the ball from tee to hole on the ninth. To his credit, Peter refused to throw in the towel and completed his round.
The dry weather of the past month has baked the course and most competitors, like Peter, came undone at some point in their rounds. The first hole was a particular favourite, with more than half of competitors making double bogey or worse. Only four of the field of almost sixty broke par on the day.
Norrie Mackenzie recovered from a triple bogey on his opening hole to return an impressive nett 67 for fourth place.
Iain Macritchie also posted nett 67 but took third place thanks to an impressive inward half, finishing with a birdie on the Avenue.
The runner up was John Mackinnon, now clearly returning to peak condition after his absence during the winter months. He was a welcome sight on the Avenue tee, having negotiated a course that, a few months previously, was about 5,000 yards too far for John to travel. A birdie on the Caberfeidh was the highlight of a round that has seen his handicap slashed by two strokes.
Stewart Davidson produced his best score of the year in some of the most difficult conditions. Hard ground and blustery wind combined to ensure that the Flag did not move far from the first tee until Stewart appeared in the late evening sunshine to plant it beside the Castle green. His level par inward half, including a birdie on the Miller, deserved the reward of his first competition victory in Stornoway.
Scoring in the midweek Caledonian Medal qualifying competition was much better than the weekend returns. Dave Gilmour’s impressive nett 65 was only good enough for fourth place; Dave will be berating himself for dropping five shots in the final three holes of what could have been a winning round.
Harris Mackenzie and Jim Watson also posted nett 65 for third and second positions respectively. Both were rewarded with cuts of a stroke in handicap; they promptly went out the following evening and lost their Consolation Cup pairs match on the last hole. That’s golf: pain and pleasure in equal measure.
The midweek winner was Iain Mackenzie, whose nett 63 was by some distance his best ever score; his handicap has now begun what he hopes will be a steady slide over the coming months.
The ladies had an encouraging field for their midweek three club competition. Two competitors posted the lowest score of nett 73, with Donna Young having to settle for runner-up spot. The winner of the Sinclair Macleod trophy was Mary Joyce; interestingly, Mary’s gross score, put together with only three clubs, was her lowest of the season. There is a lesson in there somewhere, and not just for Mary.
Donna Young used the midweek competition as a springboard for a sensational round last Saturday in the Cancer Relief charity stableford competition. Birdies on the Castle, Caberfeidh and Avenue contributed to 43 stableford points, or nett 62. No one else came close in another well supported event.