Winter golf tees off at Stornoway

The late John Douglas Macintosh was a regular sight on Stornoway golf course for many years. Even in advancing years, Dougie, as he was more widely known, participated in Winter League competition. He was an engaging, witty character and a real gentleman. Recently, his family presented the Golf Club with a silver Claret Jug in his memory and that is now the trophy presented to the Senior Champion. It is a fitting tribute to one who was an integral part of the senior section for so long.

At the recent prize-giving, Dougie’s son, Arthur, was on hand to pass the trophy to the inaugural winner, John A Macleod.

The second round of the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League was played in the same calm conditions as the opening round. Despite the presence of an ominous black sky in the afternoon, there was only a passing shower and golfers made the most of the autumnal weather.

Once again, teams had to be at least three under par to gain points. Amongst those picking up one point on nett 46 were last week’s winners, Angus Innes and Lewis Mackenzie, and last week’s runners up, the Johnson twins.

Seven teams collected seven points apiece on nett 44. There were certainly different approaches taken in posting that score and, for several partnerships, an agonising dropped shot that prevented tying for first place on nett 43.

Pat Aird chose the approach of the lone golfer; with Peter Grant missing for the next few weeks, Pat is doing his best to ensure that Peter will have a lot to live up to on his return.

Dave Gilmour and Alastair Henderson racked up five birdies in a gross score of one under par. Al “Greens” Macleod and Alan “Biddley” Macleod went one better but the lowest gross score of the day was claimed by Kevin Macrae and Griddy Macleod, three under par. All three teams were tied on nett 44.

John Gillies and John R Gillies were heading for a level par inward half before a bogey on the final hole halted their charge. The two remaining pairings on nett 44 were playing together. Peter and Murdo O’Brien improved on last week’s performance by two shots with another consistent round. How they maintained their composure and the all-important pound is a mystery when their playing partners and opponents were creating mayhem on the course.

Jamie Duncan and Iain Mackenzie admit to problems with putting but, on occasion, they simply dispensed with the need to putt at all. On the Long Caberfeidh, Jamie hit an impressive drive but found himself playing his second from behind a row of trees. Instead of chipping back onto the fairway, Jamie ripped an iron shot through the branches straight at the flag. No one was more stunned than himself to see the ball roll up to the hole and drop for an outrageous eagle.

Bob Rankin and Liam McGeoghegan are one of a number of teams playing single-handed for almost half of the winter, because of work commitments. A nett 43 and maximum points go some way to mitigating that handicap. A bogey on the Glen was the only slip in an otherwise level par first half. The inward half began well, with a par on the Castle, but that was followed by a dreaded double bogey on the Dardanelles. Three pars followed to steady the round, before a birdie on the final hole, the Manor, lifted Bob and Liam clear of the field.

With no appearance points this winter, the principal concern of the near fifty teams participating is to avoid being left with zero points by Christmas or, even more embarrassing, by Easter. Two weeks into the Winter League campaign, around half of the competing partnerships already have at least one point. That statistic bodes well for the others still looking to break their duck.

Those golfers who like bunkers will appreciate some of the work being carried out on the course this winter. Bunkers adjacent to the ninth and eighteenth greens are being repaired and renovated. The gentle touch of greens staff is being applied to the facing of the bunkers in a process known as revetting. Basically, layers of turf are stacked up, each slightly offset to form an angled face and the results are certainly impressive on the eye. We have to wait until Easter to appreciate fully the beauty of the bunker makeover as we hopelessly hack around in the sand.