Golf column - End of Summer

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Most of us will have experienced that sinking feeling when we turn around on the golf course to discover that our trolley is rolling unattended into the distance.

If the trolley is battery operated, anxiety is exacerbated, with the added knowledge that the trolley has about three more hours of charge to expend before it comes to a voluntary halt.

Imagine then the heightened anxiety if the thing careering out of control on the golf course is not a trolley, but instead a tractor.

That was the situation faced by Al ”Greens” Macleod recently. He was quickly changing the hole position on the twelfth green, one of the highest points on the course in Stornoway, when he glanced back to see his tractor trundling down the hill towards the clubhouse.

Amazingly, the tractor avoided all the trees in its path before bouncing over the first tee and crashing into the Starter’s Hut.

Such was the impact that the hut was moved entirely off its concrete base. Al’s relief that the vehicle has come to a halt before it reached the main road was immediately tempered by concern about the inside of the hut.

There was so much broken glass strewn around that Al thought that some of the Starter’s “belongings” may have been damaged.

There was no need for concern. And if there is an opportune time to attempt to demolish the Starter’s Hut, late October is ideal.

Last weekend marked the closure of the full course; the Hut will be unused for the next six months as we play out the Winter League competition over a twelve hole layout.

The Starter, John Graham, can spend much of that time browsing interior design brochures in anticipation of new accommodation next spring.

The last few competitions of the summer season were team competitions rather than individual events but, nonetheless, they were strongly contested.

The first of those involved teams of four, with the best two scores on each hole aggregated.

Murdo Maclennan, Pat Aird, Graham Morrison and Roddy Martin combined to post an excellent 93 stableford points but they were pipped by two points by the winning team of Iain Mackay, George Macleod, John M Morrison and Don Macleod.

The contest known elsewhere as a Texas Scramble is now more colloquially known in the islands as “that competition the teachers always win”.

The latest competition did not disappoint. Three teams posted scores of under 60 nett.

Gordon Kennedy, Chris Shields, David Gray and Scott Maciver were four under par gross and their five stroke handicap took them to nett 59 and third place.

One stroke better, Stuart Campbell, George Macleod, George Mould and Michael Smith must have thought that their five under par gross total might be enough to win on the day.

Unfortunately for them, they are not all teachers and therefore cannot win a Texas Scramble event.

The winning score of seven under par gross (nett 56) was put together by three current teachers – Neil Rowlands, Darren Beattie and Eddie Rodgers – assisted by a recently retired teacher in Liz Carmichael.

The final competition of the season was of such a complicated format that space will not allow a full explanation.

That actually added to the excitement of the contest, as most teams had no idea how well or badly they had played until they handed in their scorecards for computer analysis.

Two teams in particular managed to understand the format and finished well clear of the field. Peter Grant, Donald Macsween, Norrie “Onions” Macdonald and Neil Morrison amassed 115 points between them but lost out by a single point.

Past achievements by Peter Dickie, Eddie Mackenzie, Chris Kelso and Roddy Martin have been sadly ignored because the Stornoway Gazette correspondent went on holiday and failed to acknowledge their success. Thankfully, that has now been rectified and the distinction of winning the last eighteen hole event in 2016 is theirs.

This weekend marks the start of the Car Hire Hebrides sponsored Winter League. For the next six months, teams of two play over twelve holes each weekend.

There will be runaway leaders (who will eventually be caught), there will be allegations of banditry, there will be days of such torrential rain that some of the weaker-minded competitors may even consider not playing, and there will be fog and ice and snow.

And after all of that, the winners will appear in April. That’s the way we do it in the Western Isles, as they say.