It was a sunny but bitterly cold morning that greeted the players for the Saturday Stableford-a competition which unfortunately attracted only a modest number of competitors throughout the day. However the scoring was extremely tight with the top eight players separated by only four points.
The winner was John Finlayson who, playing in the final group of the day breasted the tape just ahead of the field in a feat he’ll no doubt be hoping to replicate in the imminent Local Government Elections.
With a new Callaway Rogue driver in the bag-despite a presentiment of doom by his learned friend the Skeabost soothsayer-it was to be a day for keeping the ball as near the ground as possible and that was John’s adopted strategy as the round began.
The course is running hard and fast because of the persistent, prolonged drying wind and lack of rain. In these conditions the wise man adapts his game-even putting from off the green when necessary if that is deemed to be the percentage shot.
‘Steady as she goes’ golf then from John with 39 shots required for lap one and 38 more to complete the task with one single blemish-a triple bogey seven as early as the second hole.
Apparently the Rogue driver tee shot was dispatched with some aplomb but the ball came to rest on the upslope of a lazy bed plumb in the middle of the fairway.
Decision time then-to lay up or give it the full Monty? With an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other it was to be the latter’s persuasive powers that won the day.
However, off the up slope with a three-wood being the club of choice the ball drifted left before banking then bidding a fond farewell to the ‘cut-and-prepared’ as it vanished over the boundary fence.
Maybe we should consider filling in the centuries-old undulations to create a flatter landing strip?
Nevertheless and thereafter good steady golf is what John does-and he did it again en route to a narrow but well deserved victory.
Four players pulled up one point behind but Andrew Long’s 19pts harvest for the second lap edged the other three boys who all scored 18pts for each of their two circuits.
Andrew’s two nines were 38/37 while John Maclean’s two loops were 37/38. Jim Cumming’s tallies were 38/39 while Ally Young didn’t record a score on one hole so no comparable numbers are available for him.
Non-golfing readers should be aware however that the Stableford points method of scoring does not require a number to be recorded for every single hole hence the reference to it being a more forgiving form of play when compared with medal/strokeplay where every single shot counts-no allowances for aberrations.
For the record John Maclean(no repeat of last week’s horror finish), Jim Cumming and club captain Ally Young were the players who just missed out on the prizelist but as mentioned earlier the turnout on the day was modest so there was no requirement for forensic investigation to determine the minor placings
The ladies came out to play in the afternoon in the first of a series of planned events aimed at linking the players who already have a golf handicap with those from among the ranks of the newbies who are interested in acquiring one.
The four ‘handicappers’ present each took a group of new recruits under their collective wings as they made their merry way round the golf course. The emphasis was on enjoyment of the experience and that seemed to meet with the approval of those who were in attendance.
In fact several days later, in the club car park I met one of the ladies who had been part of the ‘occasion’. She was effusive in her enthusiasm for the project before adding that she couldn’t wait to get her handicap.
The same lady also confirmed the feedback I had received from the organisers and offered that although there was evidence of nerves and understandable initial apprehension that soon dissipated when the fun began!
Indeed one woman felt inspired and ready to grasp the nettle so she completed her lap of the track before submitting her scorecard for handicap assessment purposes.
Apparently the break for tea and biscuits was very well received too.
Sunday 22nd May is the next date in the diary for those ladies who are interested in this aspect of the game.
Good effort there and very well done to all involved.
Next day’s scheduled Fourball Better Ball competition was shelved at the eleventh hour and replaced by a Pairs Strokeplay event. Four gents and two ladies teams participated.
Yet again a sunny day was cunningly disguised as ‘inviting’ but once more the Baltic hoolie made it another challenging experience for the golfers of Skye and Lochalsh.
No problem though for the team of Robert Macaskill and James Colven. The latter played the best round of his life breaking 80 for the first time ever and Robert’s contribution wasn’t too shabby either as they ‘ham and egged’ their way to a three stroke victory over Alistair Sutherland and Alex Munro.
The Borve/Portree duo roared off to a great start registering six nett birdies and a nett eagle in their first nine holes.
Robbie,or should it be Eddie was the nett eagle ‘man’ with a towering 6-iron tee shot right over the pin on the seventh hole. The resulting putt was a cheeky wee downhill, left to right, six-footer but Robbie relished the challenge and the putt was duly drained.
An outward half of eight under par nett 25 was a superb effort by the two good and long-time friends.
The wheels nearly came off early second time round though as they started with a careless bogey before composure recovered they registered another four birdies to redress that unforgivable blemish on their scorecard.
Overall they recorded an eleven-under-par total of 56.
The Broadford/Breakish duo of Alistair Sutherland and Alex Munro recorded five birdies but sadly one bogey en route to a nett four under par 29 for the first of their two circuits followed by a further two nett birdies and a nett eagle for a nett four under par 30.
Overall they recorded an eight under par total of 59.
Their score might look modest when compared to the winners but handicap-wise they play off much lower numbers than their ‘opponents’ and if higher handicappers hit a bit of form on the day they will always be difficult to beat, carrying as they do several extra strokes.
The main difference between the higher and lower calibrated players is the high men will come good only occasionally whereas the lower men will return better scores with greater consistency.
Old habits die hard for this bodach so I attempted to apportion each of the four players handicaps for illustrative purposes but thanks to the WHS(World Handicap System)every result I perused had the players down for a different number!
The gents will be playing a strokeplay competition this Saturday when, with a nod to the past a draw will be made at 9am to determine the playing partners. Those members who may not be a natural part of a group are particularly encouraged to come along and throw their hats into the competitive ring, play their round of golf, enjoy the game, the craic and the company.
However those who do have regular playing companions are also asked to support the cause and make a special effort to join the happy band of fellow members in playing their game of golf by mixing with players in the best interest of engendering a healthy and vibrant club spirit.
We have recruited more than a few new members, both male and female recently who might flourish and benefit from a degree of social and golfing integration. Most of us wizened, old members now were young once upon a time and we were both influenced and encouraged by older and wiser men back in the day.
In my own experience I will always be grateful to George Gibson and Ian Fullarton in particular for the tutelage and encouragement they freely offered to me when I started playing the game.
I’d like to think that over the years in my own small way I’ve maintained and contributed to the upkeep of that tradition.
From my current vantage point on the sidelines I cannot help but notice that several pre-Covid regular competitors remain conspicuous but their absence albeit it’s still very early in the season and the weather conditions have been less than attractive thus far.
Additionally we are all two years older and while that matters not when you are but a bairn in your twenties and thirties it becomes much more significant for the sexa-and septuagenarians!
Maybe, just maybe it’s time to get the clubs out, roll up at Sconser and see if the old magic is still in the fingers?
You’ve already watched the Masters on television-it’s a good opportunity to give it a go this weekend.
On Sunday it’s back to the familiar auld claes an’ parritch booking procedure for the RNLI Shield which is a Stableford competition very kindly and generously sponsored by the Organic Sea Harvest company.
The girls will play round one of the Ladies Championship on Sunday then two days later they will play the first round of the Glamaig Cup. Both competitions are medal play.
Saturday 23rd April, Stableford Competition.
1) J Finlayson 37pts; 2) A Long 36pts bih; 3) J Maclean, A Young and J Cumming 36pts.
Sunday 24th April, Pairs Strokeplay Competition.
1) R Macaskill and J Colven 56(-11); 2) A Munro and A Sutherland 59(-8).