The huge influx of new golfers in Stornoway under the promotional membership scheme has prompted an innovative Texas Scramble event this weekend. The laudable aim is to introduce new and experienced golfers to one another and, particularly, to give the new members a taste of competitive golf. Tomorrow (Friday) teams of four drawn equally from new and experienced members will compete over twelve holes.
The desired outcome is for some naïve golfers to be so impressed by their more experienced partners that they will be attracted by the prospect of handicaps and competition to such an extent that their names may appear on the competition start sheet on the following day. The reality may be somewhat different.
The average experienced member, in fact, is likely to be a dishevelled emotional wreck who should be kept as far away as possible from any enthusiastic new golfer; if necessary, by means of a court order. Tomorrow evening, budding golfers will meet people who talk to themselves, while clenching and unclenching their hands in a forlorn attempt to find the decent golf grip that has eluded them for years.
The new golfers will meet people unable to look behind them without turning their body a full 360 degrees, the result of concentrating so much on maintaining a rigid neck position during the golf swing that their heads can now only face directly ahead.
The new golfers will meet people who address the ball while engaged in some sort of Irish dancing routine that continues right through backswing and follow through. They will meet people so bereft of hope that it will be no surprise if some of the new breed are themselves washing down anti-depressants before the evening ends. Welcome to the wonderful world of competitive golf: it will all end in tears.
Another seldom seen event was held last week. A mixed foursomes competition is always an excellent format and this particular event was to decide the destination of the Olsen Tankard. Ann Galbraith and Al “Greens” Macleod were the comfortable winners on nett 64, ahead of Mary Joyce and Huw Lloyd.
The midweek competition was the final round of qualifying for the Centenary Medal. Those golfing in the afternoon had the benefit of warmth and unbroken sunshine, but the evening golfers had to battle through strengthening wind and showers.
Martyn Macleod built a solid 38 stableford points that could have been much better. Only two over par on the Ditch tee, Martyn let four shots slip by on the closing four holes. That was enough for third place just behind runner up Eddie Rogers, whose 38 points by contrast saw only two shots dropped on the final seven holes.
The winner was John A Macleod, showing no signs of rust in his first outing for almost a month. A birdie on the Redan was reversed buy a double bogey on his next hole but, that apart, this was as steady a round as John has put together this season.
Another medal qualifying competition was held last weekend. This was the penultimate qualifying round for the Jackson Medal and it was played in probably the most difficult conditions for months.
As has become customary, David Black posted the lowest gross round of the day. An eagle on the Manor and birdies on the Heather and Memorial helped him reach the halfway stage in a superb three under par. His final total was gross 68 (nett 65) and, as is also customary, that was not good enough for a top three finish.
Adam Longdon was at the top of the leader board for a long spell during the day and third place represents a tremendous achievement for a junior member playing in a senior competition. A birdie on the Caberfeidh was the highlight of a round that brings his handicap down to 16.
Donald John Mackenzie took second spot with a round of nett 65. After around twenty five rounds of competitive golf this summer, his handicap is almost exactly where it was four months ago. Most golfers will accept that as a pretty satisfactory outcome but, for Donald John, it merely represents a step towards consistency and a lower handicap.
The weekend winner was Peter Middleton, who is about as close as golfers get to being a model of consistency. His handicap had hardly moved this season, until last Saturday. Four over par after five holes was not the ideal start, but a birdie on the Memorial and a string of pars took him to nett 64 and victory by one stroke.
There will be coverage of another successful Harris Open elsewhere, but it is worth recording the gratitude of Stornoway golfers who participated in search of a Harris Tweed jacket. The organisation and hospitality were excellent and there is no doubt that will also be the case in Askernish this coming weekend.