It was third time lucky for the Ken MacDonald & Co TeXmas Scramble last Saturday. Wintry weather resulted in two postponements at the tail end of last year but there was a silver lining: when the competition was eventually played, conditions could hardly have been better for the time of year.
Around eighty participants enjoyed a day full of birdies, so much so that all but one of the teams finished more than four under par. The fifth placed team of Iain Mackay, Colin Gilmour, Robert Rankin and John M Morrison posted 36.9, thanks to birdies on the Manor, Ditch and Short. They were pipped for fourth place by less than half a shot.
Angus Innes, Lewis Mackenzie, Donald DJ Macleod and Donnie Macleod played with one of the lowest team handicap allowances in the event. They began their round on the Manor, but had only one birdie on the card after six holes. A birdie on the Miller may have been the sole highlight of that opening half but the return was a completely different story. A second birdie, on the Glen, was quickly followed by three successive birdies, on the Gunsite, Short and Long Caberfeidh. The result was a nett score of 35.6, which left them agonisingly short of third place.
Ali Gillies, David Black, Michael Black and Bryan Geddes made a formidable team and they opened their round with a birdie on the Ditch. Three par holes followed before a four hole birdie blitz, on the Glen, Heather, Gunsite and Short, took them to five under par with four holes to play. With rapidly diminishing options from the tee, there were to be no more birdies and the foursome had to settle for third place on 36.5.
The runner-up spot was filled by Calum Moody, David Campbell, David S Macleod and Darren Beattie. They made a fine start, with birdies on two of their first three holes, the Ditch and Ranol. Back to back birdies on the Gunsite and Short completed an excellent round of 35.9.
Murdo and Magnus Johnson were part of the winning team in the same event a year ago. They repeated that achievement, but this time with new partners in Huw Lloyd and Dennis Wingate. There were a number of things that set them apart from the rest of the field. They were the only one of the top seven teams to play in the morning and they were also the only on of the top seven teams to have a bogey on their card.
After a useful start, a birdie on their third hole, the Glen, taking them under par, they experienced a demoralising bogey on the Heather. Four missed putts from six feet were hard to take, but they proved to be the incentive needed for some inspirational golf.
A birdie on the following hole, the Gunsite, was eclipsed by Huw Lloyd on the next. If any golfer were to select an event in which to make a hole in one, it would not be a competition with almost eighty participants. The reason for that is simple: a hole in one is traditionally celebrated in the Clubhouse by the shell-shocked golfer, who has just experienced a life-affirming moment, shelling out to provide a free dram for each and every fellow competitor.
That problem would have been far from Huw’s mind as he watched his tee shot on the Short sail through the air and nestle in the bottom of the cup. Now three under par in the space of two holes, the foursome went on to birdie the next hole, the Long Caberfeidh.
There was a brief respite before the final three holes, the Miller, Ditch and Ranol, each produced a birdie. An eagle and six birdies was easily the best performance of the day and Huw, Dennis and the Johnson twins posted nett 34.2 for an emphatic victory.
This weekend we return to the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League. There is a new longer course layout, with a par of 46. The number of rounds left to play has now dropped into single figures but there is still ample opportunity for several teams in challenging positions to narrow the gap between the Blacks and the rest of the field.
There are also a number of teams whose handicap allowance remains unchanged since last October. Over the coming weeks, they will expect to pick up serious points and, inadvertently, help the Blacks to Winter League success.