No festive cheer for golfers

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Channel surfing last week, I clicked on “Funniest Moments in Golf”, purportedly a compilation of the Top 20 most hilarious things that have ever happened in golf. Generally, I avoid that genre of programme, with its mind-numbing format of “celebrity” nonentities describing the clip that you are about to view, viewing it repeatedly and then, in this case, having the nonentities explain why it was hilarious. The reason that I watched the programme on this occasion was the nagging concern that I might feature in it.

Given that the programme lasts for an hour and there are only 20 clips to see, you will appreciate that there was a lot of repetition of each funny moment, sometimes in slow motion, and a lot of inane chatter to pad out the programme. Thankfully, they were into the Top Ten by the time I tuned in. I don’t think I missed much.

Number 8, if I remember correctly, was Sergio Garcia fluffing - by his standards - a routine shot from a greenside bunker and reacting by whacking his club into the sand several times. I noted a couple of things, apart from the obvious one that it was not particularly funny. Firstly, it was actually a pretty good bunker shot: it was Garcia’s third shot on a par 5 hole and the ball popped up and landed on the green, leaving a reasonable birdie putt. I would have been clearly delighted with that unless, of course, my playing partner was a low handicap golfer like David Black or Andy Macdonald, in which case I would make a show of shaking my head and throwing my club at my bag in frustration, whilst secretly praying that I avoid sand for the rest of the round lest I reveal my true bunker finesse.

Secondly, if this was the programme producers’ choice of the eighth funniest moment in golf, I dread to think of what the previous twelve were like. It was at this point that I switched channels and therefore cannot confirm whether the programme contained anything hilarious at all.

There is an open door in the Western Isles for any budding filmmaker intent on recording genuinely funny golfing moments. In any given round in Stornoway, it is almost certain that a funny thing will happen; in fact, if you choose your playing partners wisely - I am thinking here of names like Kevin “Lava” Macleod, Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald and John Fraser - it is likely that several funny things will happen. From my visits to Scarista, I am sure there is plenty of hilarity beyond the Clisham. My experience of Askernish is that golf there falls into one of only two categories: funny or tragic. Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other.

Unfortunately, the weather conditions put paid to any golfing hilarity over the festive period. Wind and rain combined to ensure that the TeXmas Scramble was cancelled twice and the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League became a distant memory, the last round having been played in mid-December. The only competitive golf to survive was the competition for the Hangover Trophy. Although traditionally played on New Year’s Day, with some competitors simply making a detour on their journey home to play, this year’s event was delayed until January 2nd. Possibly because of the additional recovery time, the competition attracted an impressive field of over thirty participants who, incidentally, appeared to be in much better condition than has been the case in previous years.

There were some woeful performances, with some impressive shanking on display, but the standard of golf was surprisingly high. John Morrison put together a steady round of 13 stableford points in each half to take third position.

The runner-up was Iain Morrison, who reached the halfway point with a dozen points. If that was creditable, his inward half was on another level. With a handicap of 12, Iain’s four par holes and two bogeys brought him 16 stableford points, leaving him a single point short of the winning total.

Chris Kelso may have that his chances of victory were gone when he was restricted to 11 points in his outward half halfway. The runner-up proved the difference a hot inward half can make and Chris underlined that in spectacular fashion. His final four holes, including a birdie on the Short, brought 18 points, the Hangover Trophy and prize money that may move him into another income tax bracket. Happy New Year!