If there are worse conditions than last weekend for golf this winter, it is almost certain that the course will be closed. With winds nudging 50mph and sheets of rain sweeping across the course, the latest instalment of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League came close to being a horror show.
Astonishingly, around a third of teams scored under par. That is testimony to either the resilience of island golfers or the fact that their golf is of such a standard that hail and high winds cannot make them any worse than they already are.
Unfortunately, the latter is more likely to be the case, as scoring was very similar to the previous week when weather conditions were much less challenging. One of the advantages of playing in atrocious weather conditions is that keeping one’s head down is instinctive.
No partnership was as immune to the weather as Iain Moir and Pete Middleton.
Compared with his play in the warmth of a still summer evening, the only noticeable difference in Pete’s golf in darkest winter is that his trousers are somewhat longer.
We suspect that Iain was simply trying to make it back to the shelter of the clubhouse in as short a time as possible and, consequently, in as few shots as possible.
Birdies on the Heather and Ranol, both played into the teeth of the gale, kept Pete and Iain under par at the halfway point. Two more birdies, on the Dardanelles and Gunsite, gave them an under par gross total and nett 43.
Pete and Iain were two strokes better than their nearest challengers and collected maximum points, which catapulted them into third position in the overall league table.
Five teams were locked together on nett 45, each picking up eight points. The stand-out performance was arguably that of Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh.
They defied the conditions to finish two under par gross, despite opening with a bogey on the Miller. A birdie on the Memorial put that right and ensured that they reached the turn level par. Birdies on the Castle, Gunsite and Manor gave Andy and Arthur a two under par gross total, the lowest of the day.
Gordon Kennedy would probably claim that his was the performance of the day. Having suffered as, in Gordon’s absence, his playing partner David Gray shared top spot on the previous weekend, Gordon would be relieved to be part of another impressive round on his return.
Peter Grant was another whose recent absence apparently had little effect on his team.
However, Peter and partner Pat Aird used a birdie on their opening hole as a springboard for a solid round.
Iain Morrison and Andrew Reeves moved off zero points, thanks in large measure to a level par inward half culminating in a birdie on the Manor. By contrast, Magnus and Murdo Johnson earned points for the third weekend out of four.
That form has taken them to fourth place in the overall Winter League table on 20 points, two ahead of Scott Macaulay and Kenny Maclean, a pairing that has picked up points in every round of the Winter League to date.
Pete Middleton and Iain Moir move up to third spot on 21 points, seven adrift of Angus Innes and Lewis Mackenzie.
Angus and Lewis added four points to their total with a useful nett 47 but that still meant they slipped from first place. Taking over at the top of the table are David Gray and Gordon Kennedy on 29 points.
Around a third of the teams competing for the Winter League trophy have still to earn points. Some have yet to compete but others are taking desperate measures to kick-start the campaign. Chris Kelso tried a pedicure as a last resort; his description of the treatment and the implements used suggests that the procedure was carried out by a vet.
In any case, it was unsuccessful in improving his golf, although fellow competitors commented on his dainty footwork as Chris paddled gingerly across the golf course.
Pictured - Renovations at the club house continue, the first floor lounge is now open for business and construction of the adjoining balcony, complete with decking, is finished. The next part of the project will see the renovation of the main toilets and the club shop relocated.