Tropical golf in Stornoway

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Is there any other sport so insanely frustrating as golf? In the space of a few moments, a golfer can be transformed from one who believes he could feasibly par every hole into a quivering wreck unsure of being able to hit the ball at all.

And then repeat the process at least twice more before the end of a round.

What made that sort of torture bearable last week was the beautiful weather and a course that is in almost perfect condition.

The appearance of camera-wielding tourists wandering down fairways unaware, or simply uncaring, about being in the middle of a golf course did nothing to dampen spirits.

Had the tourists known that some of those carrying clubs were actually a danger to themselves, far less anyone else, they may have made short work of finding the quickest exit from the Castle Grounds.

With the temperature heading towards 30 degrees, the team match against Ullapool Golf Club had all the hallmarks of being an ordeal. Instead it turned into a comfortable win for the Stornoway team and overall victory in the inter-club rivalry this year.

It was clear that, despite the fact that Ullapool and Stornoway are separated by less than forty miles, the island climate of tropical heat combined with massive dozes of ozone took its toll on the visitors.

Of course, golf played only a small part in the itinerary for the visiting Ullapool golfers; the sight-seeing opportunities and hospitality were much more important.

The midweek competition for the Kenny Mackay Shield will rarely have been played in more idyllic conditions.

There were some outstanding performances, with Colin Macritchie emerging head and shoulders above the field. Colin opened his round, by his standards, in fairly average fashion.

Two over par after five holes is possibly below standard for Colin but, in any case, that soon became irrelevant.

Six birdies in the following eight holes simply blew the competition away and Colin finished on gross 65 (nett 63) for a well-deserved victory.

The runner-up was Lewis Mackenzie, courtesy of a scintillating level par outward half.

His nett 64 was two ahead of the third-placed Ken Galloway.

Despite the stunning weather, only three other competitors – Alasdair Gillies, Iain Mackenzie and Dave Gilmour – managed par or better.

The rest of the field was kept busy apportioning blame for poor performance on a variety of excuses ranging from heat exhaustion to the distracting sight of so many knobbly knees and wobbly calves on the course.

The latest qualifying round for the Jackson Medal was played out on a Saturday of two halves.

The day began hot and sticky and the competitors playing in the morning had the best of the weather.

With only one exception, golfers up at the crack of dawn filled the top ten positions on a day where morning was followed by monsoon.

John Sommerville produced his best golf of the season in posting nett 64, despite a frustrating finish of consecutive double bogeys.

One stroke better, Scott Macaulay was another who put together his best round of the year.

Although a birdie on the Ard Choille may at first glance be the highlight, the real work was done over an inward half with one solitary bogey and eight par holes.

It hardly needs emphasising that the winner, Iain Mackenzie, had his best round of the year and probably the best round of his life.

To put that in some kind of perspective, Iain beat his previous lowest score by six strokes.

Only four over par on the inward half, with a handicap almost six times that figure, explains why Iain won the competition by five shots on nett 58.

The resultant three shot cut in handicap should take care of Iain for the next few weeks.

Retirement is obviously suiting Liz Carmichael, whose performances this season have been remarkable.

With five second places and four wins – and a cut in handicap – already under her belt this summer, Liz added another victory in the latest Tuesday Medal qualifying round.

Despite her success, Liz will certainly empathise with the struggling golfers mentioned at the start of this article.

It is barely a week since Liz picked up an excellent birdie on the Memorial and promptly took fourteen shots on the following hole.

Her latest round also had an excellent birdie on the Short, followed by another double figure disaster two holes later.

These setbacks are less painful when we’re winning; most of us aren’t.