Almost unbelievably there hadn’t been a single drop of rain on the Sconser home of the Isle of Skye Golf Club for almost two weeks but one single day before the first of the scheduled weekend fixtures the weather forecast was grim and the skies darkened.
Consequently those who had booked their competition slots for the morning and were aware of the forecast began to delete their names one by one till eventually the booking sheet almost looked ‘live’ as the countdown to zero continued.
Cometh the morning the remaining names quickly disappeared as the heavens dutifully opened and the much needed rain dribbled down.
Greenkeeper John Cunningham was absolutely delighted though as had the precipitation not arrived as predicted he had planned to go to Sconser on Saturday evening-yes that’s correct, Saturday evening-to continue his hand-watering of the course!
With the lack of heavenly moisture the water level in the river had been way too low to allow the irrigation system pump to operate effectively so John ‘Greens’ and his trusty water-bowser had continued to empty tank upon tank of water onto the putting surfaces-seemingly for ever.
However the ground had become so hard and compacted that the water just puddled so JG had to use a brush to disperse it. I know-I wouldn’t have believed it either had I not seen it with my own eyes!
Thankfully 24hrs later the rain had come and gone, the wind had died down and then the sun made a shameless appearance. In fact one of the competitors described the conditions to me as being ‘perfect’-and he wasn’t even the winner!
Frustrated by no action the previous day there was a healthy turnout for the May Monthly Medal which was kindly sponsored by club captain Ally Young. His ‘good lady’(will I get the gender polis chapping my door for that?)Norma has kindly offered to sponsor the Ladies Medal so thank you both very much for your act of generosity.
The action began very early with form-horse Geoff Williams making yet another statement of intent by going to the turn in 38 shots. Fairly recently come to the club but a frequent player Geoff would have been unhappy with too many fives on the card. He certainly got his act together second time round when thanks to a strong 3,3,3, finish in particular-the last two numbers being birdies-he signed for a 34 shot second loop, a gross score of 72 and with handicap deducted a winning nett score of 61.
Well played Mr Consistency.
Interestingly he was partnered with the ‘first of the paramedics’(Last of the Mohicans eat your heart out!) to bite the bullet and try competition golf for the very first time.
A little nervous on the first tee our newbie struggled early on but the fact that he had played a few bounce games with Geoff eased his discomfort. As expected off a high handicap our man recorded a robust total but readily admitted to enjoying the occasion so much so that next day when the booking sheet became available his was the first entry to be made for the RNLI Shield competition the following Sunday!
I use ‘competition’ and not ‘competitive’ golf because most if not all golf is competitive to a degree and a game between two or more people can be competitive outwith the formality of a competition.
Can I also repeat for the final time that starting to play the game of golf does not necessarily have to lead to getting a handicap and playing in competitions. As mentioned here several times before national stats show that only between one quarter and one third of golfers have the desire to compete on a regular basis.
As long as you play the game of golf please enjoy it in whatever form you choose-whether it be recreational, competitive or indeed both.
The runner-up was victor ludorum last time out so despite a non-golfing holiday overseas(he really must do better next time especially as his ‘better half’-gender polis chapping again?-is one of our newbie golfers)the old magic is still there.
Chris Hanley’s two laps of the track were negotiated in 38 and 34 shots respectively and minus his handicap he signed for a nett score of 64.
Three nice birdies too including one each time at the statistically difficult 6th and 15th (same hole different tees) plus a cheeky wee finish on 18 for good measure.
Two players submitted scores of nett 65 with the scrutineer giving the nod to Robert Macaskill over Ross Cumming via the better inward half.
Like Geoff Williams and Chris Hanley last week’s ‘pairs’ winner Robbie continues on a good streak of form.
He navigated the first part of the examination in 39 shots but required three shots less to complete the paper before signing for a 65.
Like the winner Robbie birdied the final two holes which would have seen him exit the course with a bit of a spring in his step.
Ross’ two nines were 39 and 38 the second number inflated as the result of a nasty seven within sight of and only four holes from home. Otherwise for an ‘injured’ man his performance was eminently satisfactory as he treads the slow road to recovery.
Three ladies came out to compete for the May Medal and in an exciting finish it was Jill Mackinnon who edged out her old rival Donalda Johnston for the prize.
New member Helen Hamilton completed the trio on the day but it might take her a few more outings before she settles into the peculiarities of the Sconser layout.
Unfortunately two of the other ladies were unavailable on the day and that makes a significant difference when numbers are so small. However the green shoots of development in the ladies section are slowly beginning to emerge from their subterranean resting place as they steadily rise towards the light.
Could one see a competition result here anytime soon without Jill or Donalda featuring? Quite possible and I’m sure the two stalwarts would very much welcome being ‘so rudely interrupted’.
The girls were a bit rusty first time out this season and the scoring was modest. Jill’s two loops were 43 and 47 for a gross total of 90 minus 16 and nett 74.
Donalda’s two laps were each negotiated in 47 biffs for a gross total of 94 minus 19 and nett 75.
Our very own Roving-Pro golfer Craig Lee has, as is the norm visited to club on the first weekend of the month to continue to coach and inspire those who avail themselves of his services.
The feedback from his pupils is always very positive and the club would like to put on record not only their thanks for his sterling coaching efforts but also the manner in which he conducts himself as he goes about his business.
Grateful thanks also to Compass Builders, Inverness for continuing their sponsorship of Craig’s visits to our golf club.
This is the time of the year when our more adventurous golfers flap their collective wings and fly off to try their luck on the mainland competition circuit.
First up were the Macaskill brothers who competed in a Junior Tour Scotland tournament at Fortrose and Rosemarkie GC.
Saturday required them, plus fifty other boys to play 36 holes in rather miserable weather on a tight course before a redraw was made to determine the playing companions for Sunday’s final 18 holes.
Although both Ryan and Archie finished on the same ‘number’ and in the middle of the pack they enjoyed the thrill and the experience of playing the course in competition trim and alongside some very talented and low-handicapped players from throughout the country.
With live-scoring available from the course and my own football team in dire straits Saturday afternoon was spent keeping a wee eye on the boy’s progress.
How very nice it was to see the Isle of Skye Golf Club name alongside some of the bigger clubs not just in the region but in the land.
Apart from the continuing low temperatures and a biting cold wind the rainfall patterns are gradually starting to return to normal and slowly but surely the course condition is improving considering our geographical location and the fact that we are highly susceptible to the vagaries of the weather.
Indeed we are not alone in bemoaning the unseasonably cold weather. The much-vaunted new creation at Dumbarnie Links in Fife announced last week that it was closing the course till June as the anticipated arrival of warmer weather had failed to materialise and the young grasses on the greens just weren’t growing.
This on a course where one single round of golf can cost as much as the annual subscription at the IOSGC!
However there is one major and potentially serious problem with two areas of our golf course ie. the 3rd green and the practice putting green. Unfortunately both have both succumbed to an infestation of leatherjackets.
Not only do these pests eat the roots of the grass plant they also become a very tasty amuse-bouche for our feathered friends so the grass is being attacked both from above and below the surface!
A recent survey of golf courses throughout the UK reported that less than 1% were unaffected by these destructive grubs that leave the ground pitted and bumpy.
A European ban on the effective pesticides several years ago has left greenkeepers throughout the UK virtually powerless to act as they work together to find a solution to the problem.
Something worth bearing in mind next time you start mentally drafting a letter of complaint when you’re out on the course and things aren’t quite as you’d like them to be?
The Highland Cup is Sunday’s rearranged competition for the gents.
According to the fixture list a draw will be made for partners at 9am on Sunday 15th.
Intending participants would be well advised to check the up-to-date arrangements.
Good news too as the first midweek competition of the season will be Wednesday’s first round of the Strath Cup.
As I understand it following very poor attendances for last season’s midweek fixtures, with the laudable exception of the Plockton passel who were regular and enthusiastic adherents to the cause the committee took this into account in their reimagining of the fixture list.
Perhaps a larger and regular midweek turnout might lead to a rethink?
The ladies will be playing a Sunday Stableford with the Lochalsh Leisure Stableford competition on Tuesday.
Sunday 1st May, Monthly Medal.
1) G Williams 72(11) nett 61; 2) C Hanley 72(8) 64; 3) R Macaskill 75(10) 65 bih; 4) R Cumming 77(12) 65.
Sunday 1st May, Monthly Medal.
1) J Mackinnon 90(16) 74; 2) D Johnston 94(19) 75.