A Rudhach in Harris

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Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald is a man who likes to dress well. He can often be recognised on the golf course, from some distance, by the garish colours he wears. The one thing he has never worn on the course is a Harris Tweed jacket, but that can rectified after his weekend success at the Harris Open.

Norrie (pictured right) recorded nett 61 in winning a coveted jacket for the best score under handicap, three shots clear of Kenny Morrison. Norrie also collected the Archie Macleod trophy for the best score by a local member. Some may think it strange that a Rudhach like Norrie would ever be considered a local in Harris but they are a remarkably open-minded lot in Scarista and, to be fair, Norrie does spend an awful lot of time there.

Francis Clark (Royal Aberdeen) won the men’s scratch competition by one stroke from David Black (Stornoway). The ladies’ winner was Margaret Wood (Silver Springs, USA), who was six strokes ahead of Maureen Manley (Kirriemuir). In the ladies’ handicap section, Ann Mackinnon (Skye) also finished six strokes clear of the runner-up, Rachel Rooker (Sandy Lodge).

It may seem a cliche but, without doubt, the clear winner from the weekend is Harris in general and the spectacular location of the course in particular. Askernish in South Uist is in a similar setting and, next week, will attract golfers from all around the globe to its Open competition weekend.

The good thing about wind in Stornoway is that, when it blows, the midges stay away. And the good thing about rain is that, when it falls, the midges stay away. But not all the time. Last Friday evening, with rain teeming down on the golf course, the midges refused to take shelter. Those poor souls still out on the golf course, completing the first round of competition for the Kenneth Mackenzie Jubilee Trophy, were bitten as well as bedraggled.

David Black made a sad spectacle, standing in the middle of the Dardanelles fairway, sodden clothes hanging off him, his face buried in a towel in a forlorn attempt to ward off the midges. Even Murdo Alex Macleod, generally impervious to rain, looked like a rag doll. By the time they, and the other late starters, reached the last few holes, the greens were waterlogged and the course close to unplayable.

There were some excellent performances before the rain arrived. Eddie Rogers put together a superb opening half, reaching the turn in level par, helped by birdies on the Manor and Memorial. The inward half was almost as impressive, with Eddie picking up a third birdie on the Cup to post a nett 62 and lead the field into Saturday’s final round.

Norrie “Onions” Macdonald notched birdies on the Manor, Heather and Memorial, as he raced to three under par after seven holes. The setback of a double bogey on the following hole was redressed by two more birdies, on the Dardanelles and Caberfeidh. Norrie finished two under par gross for a nett 63 and took second place.

Five strokes behind, David Black somehow survived the evening deluge to grab third spot. The ups and downs of his level par round reflected the shocking weather conditions and the highlight of his round was undoubtedly his fifth birdie, on the Cup. How David’s long putt aquaplaned its way to the hole on a green pock-marked by puddles remains a mystery.

The midweek competition was the last of the qualifying rounds for the Centenary Medal, a competition held under stableford format. Conditions deteriorated throughout the day and, once again, those playing in the evening had constant rain for company. Calum Moody kick-started his round on the Redan, with a birdie that helped him reach the halfway stage with 19 points. A no score on the Dardanelles threatened to derail his round but Calum rallied to record 36 points and take third place.

Donald DJ Macleod took second spot with 38 points. A double bogey on the Heather could have proved costly but DJ had an otherwise exemplary outward half. That continued on the return leg, where a birdie on the Caberfeidh and six par holes was enough to take DJ into one of the qualification placings.

Stuart Campbell led the field, also on 38 points, thanks to an outstanding inward half that netted 21 points.

The midweek mixed foursomes competition for the Olsen Tankard was won by the evergreen husband and wife pairing of David “Coachie” and Jan Maclennan.