A FIELD of more than 110 golfers will take to the picturesque fairways and greens of The Isle of Harris Golf Club this weekend to cross drivers and compete for the much coveted ‘Harris Tweed Jacket.

“The demand for places this year was so great that all 80 spaces on the Saturday filled in just a fortnight,” revealed tournament organiser Hugh Maclean.

“To avoid many golfers being unable to enter it was decided to have ‘round one’ of the Open on the Fri. afternoon with a tee-of time of 2pm. This allowed a further 40 spaces which quickly filled.

“This has resulted in the strongest entry ever. The extra Friday session has meant that many Stornoway boys are now able to enter and avoid previous clashes with their own Saturday club competitions.”

Opening up the competition over the two days means the talent pool for the tournament has becoming even stronger with the confirmed entry of Western Isles Champion Andy Macdonald and Stornoway Open Week Champion David Black who will take on the might of current ‘ jacket holder Steve MacIntosh (+1) Muir of Ord, and former winners and low handicappers A.Munro (Skye G.C.), Michael and Frances Clark (Royal Aberdeen), S. Chisholm (Muir of Ord) and first scratch ‘Jacket’ winner Alastair Grant (GC).

The Ladies entry for the ‘Jackets’ has held up well with a plethora of former winners among the entrants including Jane Nicolson and Mary Joyce (Sty GC), Nan Morrison (Dunblane) and Jill MacKinnon (Skye).

In the handicap sections it’s anyone’s guess. A. Munro returns to defend his ‘jacket’ as does last years runner-up Willie Mackay (Royal Dornoch), John MacEachen (Oban), Lenny Wilson and Neil Macpherson (Benbecula GC) and Stuart Robertson (Fortrose and Rosmarchie) are only a few entrants who could be a winner. In the Ladies H’cap all entrants are in the frame.

The Life Members Tournament, to be held on the Fri morning (tee-off 9am), has attracted an entry of 30. All Life Members live off the Island and travel specifically, often with their families, to compete – a great boost to the local economy. (Dwight Tichenor has travelled every year since 2004 to compete (from Bangkok)

Pushing for honours again will be the Clark brothers (Royal Aberdeen), Alastair and Niall Dickson (Wentworth and Hever Castle) and last years scratch winner George Robertson (Northern Ireland).

Former winner Pam Jack (Bellingham) has had to pull out of the ladies Tournie with a broken arm but returning to compete are Nan Morrison (Dunblane), Morag Wallace (Culcabock G.C) and Maureen Robertson.

The Archie Macleod Memorial Trophy for local Members is wide open this year as Hugh Maclean explains.

“Last year’s winner Tormod Morrison unfortunately broke his leg earlier this year playing football and is out. Second and third placed last year, Billy Fraser and James Maclean, will be after the big one this time round. They can expect strong opposition from Norrie (Tomsh) MacDonald, Paul Maclean and the evergreen Robbie MacCrae.

“A threat may come from the ‘old squad’ Billy Scott, Willie F, Eito, Sweeny, Alan Gunn and myself (Hugh Maclean) if we have the energy.

“This is a big event for the Club and for the Island as a whole. We are indebted to Caledonian MacBrayne, Harris Tweed Hebrides and Donald John MacKay for their superb support.

The Leverburgh boys always help us with erection of tents and our thanks to them also. We hope the weather will be kind to us this year. We invite you to come and join us on the course and see some great golf. You will be warmly welcomed.”