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A competitive edge on the Sconser scorecards


On a recent weekend of golf at the Sconser home of the Isle of Skye Golf Club there were contrasting fortunes for the two scheduled team events.

On Saturday there was a challenge match between the players from the North and the South of the island-the first of a planned series of events to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the golf club.

On Sunday there was a charity event in aid of Kidney Kids Scotland.

While there was fine support for the former unfortunately the attendance for the latter was poor.

However one can have some sympathy for the club members as two ‘team’ events in one weekend is highly unusual and a very hard ‘ask’-especially for those players who can only play their golf one day per week.

As I’ve written here many times before, rightly or wrongly there’s never been too healthy an appetite in our club for fun, non-counting(for handicap purposes) events with the desire always to mark a card to try to get that handicap down.

By my reckoning though, four people devoted their whole golfing weekend to supporting both these club events and so I tip my cap to Donalda Johnston, John Finlayson, Jill Mackinnon and Duncan MacRae for a superb effort!

The number of players participating in club competitions is only occasionally what it might be-but we've been there before?
However when charity fund-raising competitions are being undersubscribed in favour of general play or no play at all I think-‘Houston, we might have a problem’?

The isolated location of our course requires every single one of us to travel at least a decent distance to access the facility. Consequently there can be no nucleus of resident and regular members in and around the clubhouse-the social hub of the club-to create a communal atmosphere.
Some members still get changed for golf in the car park whilst the gents changing room inside the clubhouse remains empty!

There have always been small groups of like-minded players whose only desire has been to play golf with their friends and there’s nothing wrong with that but in my humble opinion the demon Covid has at the very least temporarily derailed the cohesion, togetherness and wellbeing of our club.

During the pandemic golf fared way better than most other sports in our area. Football and shinty in particular were very severely affected because of the team ethos required of these activities.
But even then our clubhouse was required to be closed, toilet facilities were restricted, bunker rakes removed, pins were not to be touched and even handshakes were frowned upon lest the infectious disease be encouraged to spread.

Social distancing, hand sanitisers, pre-booked tee times with 15 min gaps were all quite properly put in place on the undeniable grounds of health and safety.
When the restrictions started to ease players were encouraged not yet to congregate for competition play but rather to arrange to have their outings in very small social groups of no more than two to three players.
Consequently it was completely understandable that friends continued to play with their pals and to this observer that trend continues to this day.

A booking system for both recreational and competitive play was introduced then and even now we still tee off in ten minute intervals-visitors and members alike.
That folks is the new normal.

I started playing golf at Sconser in 1975 and was elected to the committee for the first time in 1976. I felt honoured to be trusted by my peers.
At most AGM’s back then a voting process was required to elect the general committee after the office-bearers posts had been filled. Sconser Golf Club,as it was then was a very different beast to what the Isle of Skye Golf Club is now.
Comparable to a small business with the consequent financial turnover and with a mixture of full and part-time employees committee membership requires more time but no less dedication than ever before.

I’ve lost count of the number of members I’ve approached over the years asking them to ‘come aboard’ to make their contribution to running the club's affairs. The standard response is always one of two: ’I’m too busy’ or ‘I’m here to play golf-not to get involved in hassle’ to which the standard reply from me is-“If we all shared that attitude there would be no golf club”.

In approaching 50yrs of trying I still await a satisfactory riposte!
These last few years now a very small number of dedicated, unselfish men and women have kept the club ticking over.

As I wrote recently, in my opinion we have a golfing product to die for.

A very well-maintained golf course in a most beautiful location plus the absolutely golden opportunity to provide a facility for thousands of passing visitors to enjoy.

We have already lost one or two significant committee members this embryonic season so it looks like the responsibility for running the club will once more fall upon the gallant few.
The committee was required to conduct it's business by Zoom communication during Covid and I understand that still to be the case. Our office bearers and committee members, like the golfers have become used to conducting the club's business from afar and with some of the distances they would have to travel to sit around the long table in the clubhouse one can see why that too might be the 'new normal'.
Perhaps they, like the club membership in general have become rather isolated and fragmented as a result of the enforced pandemic isolation?

There's nothing quite like body language and the nuance of facial expression to communicate signals and messages. While a comment made during a telephone conversation may sound harsh, impersonal and be easily misunderstood the same message uttered round a table can be open to a very different kind of interpretation indeed.

A feeling of unity and togetherness is what we should all endeavour to recreate so next time the acid comment or criticism is on your lips-pause and think again.

Here's hoping things settle down and we can all move forward-together?

Strath Cup
Plenty competitive action to report on this time round starting, in chronological order with the Strath Cup, round two of five with the best four scores to count.

Competition Wednesday was a day of very blustery showers and that combined with air temperatures that could euphemistically be described as autumnal resulted in a turnout that was modest.

Kyleakin man Chris Mackinnon gets a mention this week for he topped the scoring charts with 34pts.His two laps were covered in 38 and 39 shots respectively.

Donald Bethune was the runner-up with a total of 26pts from his two loops of 51 and 45 shots.

No podium position for Jonathon Mackinnon on this occasion but the big hitting Kyleakin man registered three birdies at the 1st, 11th and 16th holes.
There was fresh snow on the Cuillin that day!

North v South Challenge Match

Twenty golfers turned out to support and play in the North versus South Challenge Match.The players were to be well fed and watered all day long.

The South recorded a convincing victory and Scottish Golf North Area representative Alan Cowie was on hand-along with Murdo Beaton who provided the Gaelic wording-to present the suitably inscribed and unique trophy.
Our thanks go to Mr Cowie for donating the hickory-shafted putter that forms the centrepiece of the trophy and for making the effort to visit and play the Sconser golf course of which we are all so proud.
I hope that he enjoyed his visit to Skye and if so perhaps he will spread the word among his mainland colleagues.
Although it was a team game the highest points scorers on the day were the patriarch and matriarch of Clan Mackinnon. Chris scored 37 and Jill scored 31pts respectively.

Kidney Kids Scotland Charity Event
As mentioned earlier it was a rich, two-day diet of team competition which unfortunately is not to everyone's taste but fair play to the three teams who came to compete and made a very fine fist of the challenge.
The relaxed format was two-ball, better-ball and the dynamic duo of John Finlayson and Duncan Macrae emerged as the victors with a points total of 41.
The two other teams of Jill Mackinnon with Donalda Johnstone plus James Colven and Robert Macaskill both rocked up just two points in arrears with 39pts so a good competitive outing and a great effort by those involved.

Storr Cup
Combine a bitingly cold wind, low temperatures and frequent blustery showers and it was a most unpleasant day of weather. Unsurprisingly none of the club’s senior golfers ventured too far from the comfort of home and there were no takers for the competition.

I am grateful to the folks at Shulista Weather Station in north Skye for making available the following information about the temperature on that day:
On June 10th 2023 the temperature was 23.

On June 10th 2024 the temperature was 10


Strath Cup
1) C Mackinnon 34pts; 2) D Bethune 26pts.

North v South Challenge Match
1) South 247 Pts; 2) North 216 Pts.


This weekend features the second and final qualifying rounds of the Club Championships where four players will progress to the semi-finals and final the following Saturday.


Club Championship sponsors 2024

Isle of Skye Golf Club are delighted to announce their new Club Championship sponsors as Torabhaig Distillery based at Teangue on Isle of Skye. This will cover the Ladies and Gents Championship for their Anniversary 60th year event marking golf played at Sconser. The game has been played at the Sconser location since 1964 since the origins of Sconser Golf Club and several events are in place to mark the Anniversary year.

At Torabhaig, we are pleased to support the Isle of Skye Golf Club Championship in celebration of the 60th Anniversary events. With the release of our third expression of the Legacy Series, Cnoc na Moine, we continue to explore the elegant side of peat smoke in our whiskies, made at Torabhaig and shaped by Skye.

Torabhaig Distillery is the second ever licensed Single Malt Scotch Whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye. The water, the land, the climate, all play a part in the character of the whisky produced which has been captured by Torabhaig. Isle of Skye Golf Club is proud to be associated with the Skye distillery and to be part of such a local, vibrant produce. Torabhaig Distillery are producing their own distinctive character whiskies which are evolving into a distinct signature style from a flavour profile known from what they call 'Well-Tempered Peat'.

Capt Robert MacAskill said 'It is a great opportunity for the Club to be associated with Torabhaig and to be part of their 'Legacy' portfolio'. We look forward to combining with Torabhaig and thank them for their generosity'