Hebridean Golf Festival success

Western Isles Open winner Norrie "Onions" Macdonald
Western Isles Open winner Norrie "Onions" Macdonald

By all accounts, Golf Week 2014 was one of the best of recent years. The main reason for that opinion was the standard of play but the balmy weather certainly played a part. There were plenty of golfers who will have lasting memories of an excellent week.

Neil Morrison picked up four birdies in a superb nett 63, which won the Men’s One Day Open, edging out an impressive Dave Gilmour by one stroke. Ann Galbraith won the women’s one day event.

The Texas Scramble was won by Iain Macdonald, Murdo Alex Macleod, Stewart Macqueen and Kevin Macrae with a stunning nett 52.6. Their scorecard comprised ten birdies and eight par holes.

Robert Rankin notched up a season best nett 62 in winning the midweek stableford event with 42 points.

His level par finish over the final six holes just kept him ahead of Colin Macritchie, who racked up six birdies in a superb gross 65.

Colin went one stroke better for a nett 62 in winning the Men’s Greensomes event with Norrie “Onions” Macdonald. Murray Macinnes had a memorable week and one highlight was the nett 62 achieved with Angus Innes, just losing out on countback to Colin and Norrie. Ken and Rita MacDonald won the Mixed Greensomes competition.

Stewart Macqueen picked up a birdie on the eighteenth to win the individual section of the Team event by one stroke on nett 61 but even his contribution could not propel his team to a top three finish.

Instead, Murray Macinnes, Don Mackenzie, Michael Black and Iain Smith won by the narrowest of margins on nett 201 from Neil Morrison, Kenny Maclean, Iain Macritchie and Norrie “Onions” Macdonald.

Norrie was the week’s major winner, adding another Western Isles Open title to his collection.

He defeated Kevin Macrae in the final, with Kevin having the consolation of a semi-final win over favourite David Black.

David had warmed up for Golf Week by taking the Neil Morrison Trophy with two excellent rounds of gross 65 and 68.

Martin Flett came from behind in every matchplay round to win the Handicap Trophy, while Mick Butterworth won the Senior Cup and Christine Macleod secured the Ladies’ Western Isles title.

Understandably, the competitions immediately after Golf Week generate less interest than usual as exhausted golfers either enter rehab or think about giving up the game entirely.

Nevertheless, there have been good performances during the past week.

David Macmillan knocked a stroke off his handicap after racking up 41 points in the latest qualifying round for the Centenary Medal.

Ann Galbraith went one better, reducing her handicap by two shots following scintillating performances last week.

In the midweek Cancer Relief stableford, Ann amassed 39 points to win by some distance.

She continued in the same vein at the weekend, in the fourth qualifying round for the Saturday Medal. A solid round of nett 64 gave Ann another victory ahead of Jane Nicolson.

Alan Macleod now joins an exclusive club following his win in the weekend charity competition for the Leukaemia Research Trophy.

Alan posted a nett 64, mainly courtesy of a stunning finish of three birdies over the last four holes. Alan now becomes a Category One golfer, his handicap being reduced to a mere five strokes.

In second place, Angus Innes emerged from the doldrums of the past couple of months to make another attack on his own handicap with a nett 65.

Level par over the final seven holes suggests that Angus will do a great deal more damage to his handicap before the end of the season.

Iain Morrison, in only his third outing of the year, took third place, also on nett 65, edged out by Angus’ flying finish.

Next weekend, the two rounds for the Thomson Bruce Trophy will be played on Friday and Saturday respectively. Booking is now available online.

Finally, we wish Cal Robertson all the best in his new employment.

He has tended the course in Stornoway for the past eleven years and, while most of us would prefer to see Cal atop a mower creating artistic lines on the course fairways rather than frisking us at Stornoway Airport security, none of us would grudge Cal a fresh career opportunity.

Whatever flak he receives from a passenger stripped to the bare essentials and still setting off security alarms will be nothing compared to what he has left behind – all those complaints about everything from bunkers and rough to pin positions and teeing areas.