The Askernish Open weekend overshadowed a couple of important finals in Stornoway in the past fortnight. The destinations of both the Caledonian and Centenary Medals were decided in the midweek competitions.
In keeping with tradition, someone who failed to take advantage of the opportunities in any of the half a dozen qualifying rounds for the Centenary Medal suddenly found his game during the final. Graham Morrison has not had the best of seasons and was probably shell-shocked to find himself standing on the tenth tee with 22 stableford points in his pocket.
However, there was no evidence of stage fright, as Graham picked up another 21 points on the inward half to leave the field trailing in his wake.
He may not have been a winner on the day, but Graham managed to reverse the upward drift in his handicap in one fell swoop. He is now playing off two strokes less than at the start of the summer.
The real winner of the Centenary Medal was Andrew Reeves. Despite failing to pick up any points on the Memorial, Andrew had 20 in the bag at the halfway stage. The inward half was even more impressive, capped by a birdie on the Ditch, and Andrew posted an unbeatable 41 points.
David Black took second spot three points behind, with his usual handful of birdies, as he took another small step towards a zero handicap. In between Andrew and David, there were a few other non-qualifiers pushing themselves into the spotlight. John M Morrison birdied the final hole to reach 40 points, while both Iain Macleod and Norrie “Tomsh” Macdonald had totals of 39 and 38 respectively.
There was to be no doubt about the winner of the Caledonian Medal. Askernish Open winner Neil Rowlands returned to Stornoway and maintained his superb form with a level par gross round. One over par at the turn, Neil had successive birdies on the Ranol, Caberfeidh and Miller, posting nett 63 to put three strokes between himself and runner-up Cal Robertson.
Cal put together a level par inward half, helped by birdies on the Ranol and Cup, to edge out Peter Grant, who also recorded nett 66.
In between the two finals, another member of the Black family made his mark in the competition for the Glennie Trophy. Michael Black put together a solid round, bagging 40 stableford points and taking third position.
Donald DJ Macleod began his round with a double bogey. That proved to be an aberration, as DJ did not drop a shot for the rest of the round and picked up birdies on the Manor, Memorial and Ranol. His 41 points gave him second place.
The Glennie Trophy winner also had 41 points. Eddie Mackenzie made consecutive birdies on the Short and Whins and his excellent inward half of 21 points eased him ahead of DJ on countback.
Last weekend, the prize on offer was the Tupper Cup and the format was bogey/par, which is essentially matchplay against the course. Only eight of the field managed to come out ahead on a fairly calm, showery day.
Mike Smith attempted to disguise himself with a beard but there was no need to hide. A birdie on the Memorial helped Mike reach the turn only one over par. The inward half was steady and ended with an excellent birdie on the final hole to take Mike to three up on the course. That proved just enough to take Mike into third place.
John Fraser also finished three up. His opening half had a bit of everything, including a quadruple bogey, but John made par on the Short to pull ahead by one hole.
The inward half began brightly and although he tried to throw a couple of holes away, a par finish edged John into the runner-up spot.
Arthur Macintosh was already two down after three holes, but he recovered quickly and, by the time he made birdie on the Short, he was two up. Pars at every hole on the inward half, apart from the Ditch, lifted Arthur to five up on the course and a comfortable victory.
Jane Nicolson came a creditable fourth in the Askernish Open handicap competition and her recent good form has seen her handicap allowance cut by two strokes. She continued her winning ways in the latest qualifying round for the Saturday Medal, but it was a very close contest, with Jane finishing just one shot clear of runner-up Ann Galbraith.