Winter League can be a terrible thing. In fact, golf itself can be a terrible thing. It can hardly be described as a sport or game because both names suggest an element of enjoyment.
You look forward with eager anticipation to Saturday, perhaps checking the weekend weather forecast as early as Monday. You may even pay close attention to the weather systems building far across the Atlantic and attempt to track their progress.
Everything falls into place on Saturday, and begins with a soaring drive from the Castle tee. Unfortunately, you lose sight of the beautiful arc of the shot, which is a pity, because that turns out to be your last decent tee shot.
The next time you see your ball it is sitting on the fairway, tantalisingly close to the gap. If you take a few steps forward, you can actually peer round the trees and see the flag. Were you a professional, you would bend the ball low around the trees, under the overhanging branches and see it come to a sudden halt close to the flag.
For some unfathomable reason, you think this is the shot to play. You have never before intentionally bent a ball in any direction but that becomes a minor matter. The main concern is that the green is clear because that is where you intend to make your next stroke. Instead, you hit a tree - not the overhanging branches - but the tree trunk directly in front of you.
A couple of strokes later, your ball is lying close to the green, with a bunker between it and the flag. There is plenty of green to work with but, inexplicably, you decide that a flop shot is required. Again, this is a shot utterly beyond your capability, one that you have never attempted, even in practice. Nevertheless, you open the face of the club, take a full swing and watch as the ball soars skywards, clears the green and heads in the direction of the trees.
At this point, you turn to your partner for assistance, more in hope than expectation. He has been in a greenside bunker for the past five minutes, creating his own sinkhole.
For the second week in succession, your Winter League challenge has evaporated on the opening hole. A few moments later, you watch with horror as your tee shot on the Dardanelles carves its way right in the shape of a banana, creating the exact trajectory you looked for in what seems now to be another lifetime.
To add insult to injury, on the following hole, your partner executes the perfect, textbook flop shot. On the tee. With a driver.
And then the hailstones came. That could be your story; regrettably, it was mine.
Alongside this catastrophe, there were people playing golf. The conditions were challenging for the latest round of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League and, unusually, a score of level par was enough to earn a scoring point.
Four teams posted nett 46, to share the lead and collect eleven points apiece. Scott Macaulay and Kenny Maclean dropped only one shot on the outward half and, after a bogey on the Castle, completed the remaining holes in par.
Chris Kelso welcomed back his partner, John Macleod, after a lengthy absence. That absence partly explains why the team still has a handicap of eight.
With only two shots dropped by the halfway point, Chris and John played a solid inward half to register their best performance of the winter.
For the second successive week, Richard Galloway and Cal Robertson experienced a disappointing end to an excellent round.
Back to back birdies on the Memorial and Ranol gave them a mid-round two under par total. They held that score until bogeys on two of the final three holes pulled them back into the pack.
The final pairing on nett 46 had an extraordinary round. Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh defied the elements to post a gross score of 45, the lowest total of the day. A birdie on the Ranol helped them to a level par outward half. The inward half opened with an eagle on the Castle, followed by a birdie on the Dardanelles and a final birdie on the Gunsite.
Arthur and Andy have now leapfrogged their way from fourth to the top of the overall table on 73 points.
Lewis Mackenzie and Angus Innes are three points adrift, with the Johnson twins a further point behind.