The climax of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League appeared to be in doubt last Saturday morning. It had been raining constantly for the best part of two days and was still raining when the first of the final day matches was due to begin. A delayed start eventually allowed teams to tee off some five hours later and, in keeping with the Hebridean weather pattern, the last contest of the winter season was played out in warm sunshine. The saturated conditions underfoot served only to confirm that, had it not been for the determination to end the Winter League on, rather than off, the course, there would have been no golf played last weekend.
There was no drop in the high standard of golf played throughout the winter and, once again, teams had to post scores under par to earn points. Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald and Murdo Maclennan started the day three points behind the Winter League leaders, hoping for a miracle in their final round.
Thanks to Norrie’s match reports, many of us had long formed the opinion that the success of this partnership was built around Murdo’s golfing prowess and Norrie’s reporting skills. Their league campaign ended on a surprising note, when Norrie’s eagle putt found the bottom of the hole on the Cup/Foresters and the pairing posted nett 44 for a vital four points.
Richard Galloway and Cal Robertson were also in contention in the overall competition and they too carded a final round 44, falling just short of a top three finish.
One stroke lower, Robert Rankin must have been a contender for the best round of the day. Left alone, in the absence of partner Liam Mcgeoghegan, Robert had initially shown a little reluctance to exchange the comfort of the clubhouse for the sodden attractions of the course. Once on the course, sadly, his equipment still hankered for home comforts as two tee shots on the Avenue sailed over the boundary wall in the direction of the lounge. Despite notching a birdie with his third ball, a triple bogey on the hole turned out to be Robert’s only slip of the day and proved to be the difference between sixth place and a share of the winning total.
The winning total was the nett 40 posted by Chris “Tex” Graham and Martyn Macleod. Their start on the Avenue gave every indication of the remarkable round that followed. Tex hooked his tee shot out of bounds, where it struck a gate and rebounded onto the course, landing just short of the green. Tex made the most of his outrageous slice of luck with a birdie while his partner, who had taken a more conventional route to the green with a drive to within a couple of feet of the flagstick, holed out for an eagle.
A birdie on the Cup/Foresters ended the outward half on another high note. There was one more birdie, on the Gunsite, as Martyn and Tex finished their league campaign with some panache.
Two pairings tied for the runner-up spot. Eddie Rogers and Gary Murray gave notice of their intent from the outset, with Eddie tapping in for a birdie on the Avenue after his eagle putt slipped past the hole. Another birdie came on the following hole, the Manor, and a third, on the Ranol, took Eddie and Gary to the halfway point three under par. A birdie on the Redan was the highlight of a more difficult inward half and brought the reward of eleven points.
Donnie and D J Macleod have been the target for challengers for some weeks and they would have been well aware of the need to earn some points to keep them clear of the chasing pack. Their outward half was simply a string of par holes, but the round sprang to life with a birdie on the Avenue. A huge drive on the Manor resulted in DJ chipping in for an eagle, to be followed by another birdie on the Miller.
Finally, to round off a second outstanding Winter League campaign, there was an eagle on the Cup/Foresters.
Having shared the title last year, Donnie and DJ won the 2017 Car Hire Hebrides Winter League outright with a superb total of 58 points. Ten points behind, Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald and Murdo Maclennan moved up to take second prize, while David and Michael Black slipped to third on 47 points, two ahead of fourth placed Richard Galloway and Cal Robertson.