Golfing fun in the Stornoway sun

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Looking out from the clubhouse on yet another glorious evening, it seemed very appropriate that we were dining on a Mediterranean feast of tapas. The latest pop-up restaurant at Stornoway Golf Club once again showcased the skills of Paul Moorby.

The food was authentic but we were all aware that the moment we stepped out into the sunshine in our tee-shirts and shorts, we would be only minutes away from hypothermia.

In fact, the course was closed in the early mornings last week until overnight frost lifted. Paul is back next month with a curry themed evening; we hope that the outside temperature by then will at least match one of the mild kormas on offer. Sadly for those of us unable to return decent scores at the moment, it has to said that the mild weather and the generally excellent condition of the course combine to present low scoring opportunities and there are plenty of competitors making the most of it.

All of that seemed a far cry from what some of us experienced last Wednesday. An early indication of weather prospects is the number of golfers deleting their names from a competition start sheet. By mid afternoon, the start sheet for the latest midweek qualifying round for the Centenary Medal appeared to have more withdrawals than participants. Never let the carefully written excuses fool you.

“Sorry, working late” or “Apologies, injured” are not always what they seem. Very often, the real reason is “monsoon on the way”. Last Wednesday, it was the approach of the Second Ice Age that was the problem.

It was the wettest round of the summer season and the coldest for at least a couple of years – including winter golf. While many competitors struggled to complete the round with numb fingers and perishing limbs, there are clearly members who are not only impervious to water but also immune from cold.

Darren Beattie was almost the epitome of consistency, a birdie on the Glen helping him to 20 points in the outward half. He looked to be heading for a similar total as he stood on the final tee but a triple bogey left Darren on 38 points, an outstanding total in the conditions but one that left him frustrated in third place.

Neil Rowlands took the runner-up spot on 39 points, courtesy of an superb string of holes in the middle of his round that included birdies on the Redan, Short and Ranol.

The winner was David Campbell, who did most of the hard work early in his round. As conditions continued to deteriorate, David ended the round in survival mode. His 40 points brought his second cut in handicap in three weeks.

Three days later, in temperatures around ten degrees higher, the inaugural Morenot Texas Scramble event took place. Sponsored by the Norwegian company, Morenot, which is involved in repairing, washing and drying nets used in the aquaculture sector and has a local base on Scalpay, the competition gave an opportunity to golfers of all abilities and none to participate in what is an enjoyable format.

By the time they left the course, some of those barely able to swing a club at the start of the day were reflecting on near perfect chips and putts. The standard of scoring was exceptionally high, with the teams battling for first place all around the thirteen under par mark. In the end, David Black, David Mackinnon, George Macleod and Norman Morrison emerged victorious but not without some setbacks along the way.

A ferocious swing by Norman had the unexpected side effect of splitting his trousers, something that the sponsor can perhaps look at repairing as a potential money-spinning addition to net repairing. Norman was then paged by Western Isles Hospital and had to leave his team to finish without him. No doubt a few strategically placed stitches at A&E prevented any patients from the traumatic shock of witnessing Norman’s shredded golf trousers.

Norman was not the only participant to experience a wardrobe malfunction. Calum Moody managed to play the round wearing his golf top inside out and without any of his partners noticing. Whether or not it becomes a trend is still to be seen and is entirely dependent on the standard of golf Calum achieved. The first whisper that it helped his golf will have fellow members rushing to play with every item of clothing inside out, including hats and gloves.