Spring in the step for golfers

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In a recent interview, rock legend Alice Cooper revealed that he had taken up golf in an attempt to beat his alcohol dependence.

Within a year, regularly playing two rounds of golf with a professional for company every day of the week, he had a handicap of nine. He had successfully replaced one addiction with another.

Many island golfers can empathise with the addictive nature of the game although none has been able to replicate the dramatic reduction of handicap over such a short period of time.

It is somewhat ironic that the frustrations of golf can often lead to an irresistible craving for alcohol before, during and after a round.

The addiction is now manifesting itself even more strongly with the arrival of Spring and the realisation that summer golf is less than a fortnight away.

That also means there are only two rounds remaining in the Car Hire Hebrides Winter League.

Last weekend certainly had a Spring-like feel, with sunshine and showers and mercifully little sign of the strong winds that have blown almost continuously for weeks. Thirteen teams posted nett scores below par and all picked up scoring points.

The serious points were earned at four under par or better. Four pairings on nett 45 were rewarded with eight scoring points.

Ken MacDonald and Dave Rattray reserved their best performance of the campaign for the tail end of the Winter League.

A birdie on the Memorial kept them in contention and another on the Short cemented an excellent performance.

John Cunningham and Scott Maciver should be struggling with a hugely reduced handicap but, instead, they put together a gross level par round that keeps their league challenge alive.

A dropped shot on the Cup/Foresters was quickly erased by a birdie on the Avenue in the outward half. The return leg had a dropped shot on the Redan and a birdie on the Whins.

Stevie Bryden and Donald John Mackenzie were late starters in the scoring stakes but they are well on the way to putting that right.

Another step in the right direction was taken last Saturday, when birdies on the Manor/Caberfeidh and Memorial were the highlights of a solid display.

The final pairing on nett 45 was that of Richard Galloway and Cal Robertson. Richard and Cal have a history of challenging late in the home straight of Winter League and this year looks to be no different.

Birdies on the Glen, Memorial and Avenue helped them reach the halfway mark two under par. Further birdies on the Short and Manor/Caberfeidh gave them the lowest gross score of the day at four under par.

Willie Macaulay and Alasdair Maclean joined the ranks of those playing off scratch, thanks to a scintillating inward half.

A birdie on the Short kept them level par at the turn before birdies on the Memorial and Cup/Foresters took them to nett 44 and a bonus of twelve scoring points.

Neil Rowlands and Darren Beattie have only made six Winter League appearances to date but this was by far the most impressive.

It was made even more impressive because Darren had to leave before the end of the round, clearly unable to last the pace for twelve holes.

On the other hand, perhaps he genuinely was needed to bolster Stornoway Rugby Club’s Saturday afternoon efforts.

The sight of an onrushing Beattie with a golf bag still strapped to his back would put the fear of death into most opponents, on the rugby pitch and even more so on the golf course.

Darren and Neil played consistently throughout. The outward half comprised five pars and one birdie, on the Glen.

The inward half also had a birdie, on the Redan, for the winning nett total of 42 and maximum scoring points.

In the overall league table, Andy Macdonald and Arthur Macintosh still lead with 88 points, ten ahead of Lewis Mackenzie and Angus Innes.

Richard Galloway and Cal Robertson have moved up to share third spot on 77 points with the Johnson twins. John A Macdonald and Kenny John Macleod are fifth, two points behind.

For those aching for summer golf, the matchplay competitions are now open for entries, either online or on the forms in the locker room. On Friday, 11th April, there is also a qualifying competition for a national Texas Scramble event.

Teams of three can be entered for this competition, which will be played over twelve holes. Remember to pay membership fees before play!