The type of person who can afford to splash out on a penthouse suite in the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews, is probably the type of person that would be enraged if water poured into his luxury apartment every time it rained. While hotel staff try to placate an irate guest, the true culprit is heading back to Stornoway. Step forward, Paul Maclean. Playing at the home of golf, Paul hit a wayward tee shot on the seventeenth hole. It struck the roof of the prestigious Old Course Hotel and dislodged slates.
The episode opened up the possibility of a Loose Slate Award to be given to the person deemed to have made the most wayward shot of the year. All nominations will be gratefully received with the promise of maximum publicity. Definitely not in the running at the moment is Richard Galloway. Some weeks back, an anonymous golfer on the eighteenth tee struck the ball in a beautiful arc – admittedly with more draw than initially intended – and it struck the back window of a car heading up to Lews Castle College. The furious driver looked around for the perpetrator and accused an entirely innocent Richard Galloway, who had been putting on the practice green adjacent to the first hole. It is not Richard’s fault that he permanently has that guilty air about him.
Last week’s celebrity visitor to the course was Harry the Hedgehog, who held up play in the Tupper Cup as he made his leisurely way down the Manor fairway before turning slowly to the left and wandering up to the Avenue green. Unfortunately, Harry was not the slowest creature on the course: rumour has it that one group of nameless golfers had slowed to such a crawl that they were forced to wave Harry through. When slow play begins to irritate even hedgehogs, match officials will have to step in.
The Rankin Family may be better known for their Gaelic harmony but a couple of less well known, and probably very distant, family members displayed their golfing prowess in the Tupper Cup.
Joe Rankin has recently returned to golf and his score of nett 65 could have been predicted by any of those who have played alongside Joe in recent weeks. A birdie on the Manor was the highlight of a round that finished with four pars on the closing six holes. The general consensus is that he will not have a handicap of 20 for much longer.
Robert Rankin matched his namesake’s nett 65 to tie for third place. Robert birdies the Caberfeidh but it was on the outward half that he did most damage, reaching the turn only four over par, with twelve shots of his handicap still intact.
The competition runner up was Duncan Maclean, whose birdie on the Memorial was the brightest spot of a solid round of nett 63. As was the case with Robert Rankin, Duncan played his best golf in the first nine holes. He was just five over par at the halfway stage and, when your handicap is 21, that is a very comfortable position to be in.
The Tupper Cup winner was Peter Grant, who has played some impressive golf this season. Last Saturday, he recorded his lowest ever gross score and his nett 61 gave him a victory margin of two strokes. A score of eight over par after ten holes suggested that Peter would finish close to par. Instead, a birdie on the Caberfeidh ensured that he completed the final eight holes in level par.
The midweek event was the Caledonian Medal final. As often happens in these events, the lowest score of the competition was posted by a player who had not qualified for the final. Iain Macleod’s gross 75 was his lowest score of the year and his nett 64 matched that of Any Macdonald, who had qualified for the final and, consequently, adds the Caledonian Medal to his other achievements in recent weeks – most notably, winning the Askernish Open. Andy had three birdies and an eagle on the Memorial in his first nine holes, to stand at four under par. Had he played the back nine as he did in the Tupper Cup, he would have been close to the course record. Instead, Andy relaxed a little too much but, with a further birdie on the Cup, he finished one stroke clear of Steve Bryden.
Steve reduced his handicap for the third successive round and is returning to the form he displayed early in the season. That in itself is impressive, as he is now playing off a handicap seven strokes less than he had in April.