Crossing the golfing line

There is a fine line between playing spectacular golf that will be applauded by fellow competitors and spectacular golf that elicits howls of derision about the handicapping system.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly where that line is; but it is fairly easy to recognise that Pat Aird was so far over the line in the traditional Stornoway Golf Club Boxing Day Stableford competition that he was almost out of sight – in bandit country. He was not helped by the fact that he was nominally in charge of handicapping.

Most golfers would be reasonably content with sixteen stableford points at the halfway stage of an eighteen hole competition. Pat had amassed that total after six holes and added another fifteen points on the next six holes.

For the uninitiated, a score of thirty one points is the equivalent to a scorecard comprising seven birdies and five pars.

No one came close and, amongst the rest of the field, the longest face belonged to Peter Grant, stunned that the Winter League partner he has carried around the course almost every weekend should produce his best golf of the year in an individual competition.

Second place went to Chris Graham, with a creditable twenty nine points that took him one clear of third placed Charlie Maclean.

The turnout for the competition was excellent and that was in part due to the stunning conditions on the day. The hard luck story winner was Ken MacDonald, whose second shot on the Miller went straight into the hole.

Unfortunately for Ken, it was a hole cut on a temporary green not yet in use and his potential eagle and the five stableford points that come with it suddenly took a substantial drop in value.

The following day saw yet another healthy field contest a texas scramble competition in calm conditions. The competition was organised to encourage new members to play competitive golf and they probably saw enough from seasoned golfers to convince them of two things: playing a lot of golf doesn’t necessarily improve your game and it doesn’t necessarily make you happy either.

The air temperature had taken a dip and, with the ground rock hard, chipping and putting became a lottery. With no control over flight and distance at the best of times, the Gillies twins generally seem to adapt well to comparatively unplayable conditions; true to form, one of them popped up in an unlikely winning combination of Liz Carmichael, Magnus Johnson and John R Gillies.

Four teams were tied on gross 46, with the handicap allowance giving the winners a narrow lead of 0.2 of a stroke over Richard Galloway, John A Macdonald and Bob Rankin.

Last Saturday saw the final round of the year in the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League. Conditions were not ideal but, considering that a few hours earlier winds of close to 80mph had battered the islands, most golfers were relieved to have a golf course that was open.

The storm damage was clearly visible: fallen trees mean that there appears to be a second gap opening up on the first hole. Wayward tee shots now have a fighting chance of going straight through what was once a cluster of trees and landing within wedge distance of the green.

The calmer weather helped low scoring and two under par was the threshold for scoring points. Four teams went one stroke lower on nett 42 to collect seven scoring points each.

Kevin “Lava” Macleod and Norman Morrison broke their duck in the competition on the previous weekend and promptly put in a repeat performance. The Johnson twins built on a level par outward half to record their best round of the campaign.

It was a similar tale for Huw Lloyd and Marten James, who were only one over par at the turn, thanks in part to a birdie on the Memorial. The final pairing on nett 42 was Donald John Mackenzie and Steven Bryden, who followed what is fast becoming a familiar pattern of struggling on one half of the course and demolishing the other.

Two teams tied on nett 41 for eleven scoring points apiece. David “Kiwi” Macleod and Stephen Moar played what is considered the more challenging half of the course in level par, with the bonus of a birdie on the Miller.

David Macleod and Donald John Smith birdied the Cup on their way to a one over par halfway total. They added two more birdies on successive holes, the Manor and Miller, in an impressive one under par inward half. David and Donald John have now eased themselves into the top ten in the overall competition.

The winning team was Peter and Murdo O’Brien, who have now re-established themselves as serious contenders for the Car Hire Hebrides Trophy. A bogey on their opening hole was soon put right by a birdie on the Memorial and they stood on level par at the halfway point.

Five pars later, Peter and Murdo signed off in style with a birdie on the Long Caberfeidh for a nett 40 and fifteen scoring points.

That result has catapulted Peter and Murdo into fourth place in the overall league table on 53 points, four points clear of Griddy Macleod and Kevin Macrae. David Gray and Gordon Kennedy are in third position on 54 points and the leaders on 56 points are Ken Galloway and George Mould who share top spot with Bryan Geddes and Colin Macritchie.