Remembering lockdown promises and unbeatable Scarista golf in the sun

Norrie T MacDonald, the 19th Hole

I saw a man on the telly just now and he wasn’t sporting a beard.

I must have tuned into the wrong channel I thought; probably something from the ‘80s or ‘90s, so I quickly switched over as I was looking for the news.

The BBC News is now the official coronavirus channel, and frankly (sorry) I need a bit more variety.

Of course it’s important to be kept aware and abreast of what’s going on. But a bit like when Brexit was front and centre, they tend to fixate on the one major issue at the expense of all others.

France 24, Al Jazeera and even CNN manage a bit more diversity.

I just can’t watch regular Sky TV anymore as I require something (anything) that can hold my attention for more than the seven minutes of actual programme, before I’m subjected to yet another advert for erectile disfunction or starring a meerkat.

I flit and scan, switch and pre-record, generally annoying the bejaysus out of herself in my efforts not to waste what’s left of this life (the indoor, screen-watching, portion of it anyway) being bombarded by what, we’re constantly being reminded, actually pays for the ‘output’.

I’ve always hated adverts on the box.

Subliminal messaging, marketing communication, branding, call it what you will; it does my head in.

Which is why, when it comes to a product that costs me a fixed price every month and delivers watchable content, you can count me in.

The revolution in what’s being watched, downloaded and recorded for future perusal will, with any luck, see a massive change in what and how broadcasters decide to deliver to us, in the context of what they consider worthwhile viewing.

Most of it will still involve food, people scouring car-boot sales to make an £8 profit, idiots on an island or in a house, and talent(less) shows; but there will still be nuggets and you will be able to watch from start to finish without being subjected to opera masquerading as insurance.

I predict, as with everything else in this new world, that when you ‘target’ today’s mass audience, whether it be for programming, newspapers, shopping, food or even just plain political influence; when you aim for the lowest common denominator, you will still get Judge Rinder, The Sun, Amazon, Greggs and Boris & Donald.

I’m sure they all have their place.

We all know where we would like it to be.

That’s why, without exhausting the entire Netflix library, I have to scour the channels for something that I will sit and watch (for seven minutes at least).

Luckily, I don’t watch that much TV.

But I do know things are changing, more so now than ever.

I see many decent newspapers, with intelligent comment and commentators, struggling to survive against the onslaught of online, behind a paywall, available at 6am the next day, ‘print’.

Though in any toilet paper crisis there was always Murdoch, Rothermere and Douglas.

The demise of every local shop and town centre has been blamed on everyone else (other folk, the council, fuel costs), but never on our own individual choice to just ‘browse and click’, or ‘click and collect’.

Why go to your local cafe or restaurant when you can have something that’s travelled 500 miles and just requires microwaving?

As for politicians.

Do we really get what we deserve?

I’ve banged my head off this particular brick wall for many years, but now that a global crisis has shifted all of our focus onto the changes that will inevitably result; will we emerge better or worse from it?

My guess is that it’s going to be a massive struggle all-round.

How do you re-adjust and balance an economy which has been decimated by a world-wide pandemic?

How do we, especially here, way out west where we’ve been so hugely fortunate, ‘protect and survive’ whilst attempting to emerge, blinking, into a hazy new dawn?

There are still massive fears about opening everything up too quickly and that a ‘second wave’ may well be on the horizon.

For us, the fear is that it will be our first.

We rely hugely on what goes on in the rest of the world and how we interact with it, and it with us.

We need, like it or not, a tourist economy.

We need visitors using our hotels, restaurants, B&Bs, bars and shops; attending our festivals, watching our wildlife (catching and shooting it, too) and climbing our hills and taking endless pictures of our sublime beaches.

We need to be able to export salmon, prawns, lobsters and tweed.

We need the normality that afforded us all some income and stability.

You can use all the tortoise and ostrich analogies in the world and ponder on whether they will save us, or simply consign us to several more months of self-contained lockdown.

Don’t get me wrong, our elderly and most vulnerable are still being protected like they should; whilst the rest of us have, largely, moved into phase one looking over our shoulders at a bullet that whizzed by.

We remain, as we should, wary of ricochets.

Quite incredibly, before we’ve even moved from stage one to stage two, there are internet petitions wishing to turn us into North Korea.

So will we all shop more locally, eat the produce from our own doorsteps in local cafes and restaurants, watch our local football teams and, in the words of Willie Campbell and his ‘Tumbling Souls’, “dance a little better when we all hold hands”?

Will we stop taking for granted all the things that we promised we would protect and revere?

When all of this comes to pass, will we have ‘woken up’ to the realisation that sometimes, we need to stop treating this life and this world as just another ephemeral ‘episode’?

Remember what Confucius said…We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”

The least we should promise ourselves is to do better.

When it comes to golf, you really can’t do better than Scarista.

Certainly not last Saturday when the sun blazed, the field, practically in their entirety donned shorts, and the temperature soared.

Richard Marshall

The course is in magnificent condition, therefore it should come as no surprise that the entire field, bar just one solitary golfer, managed to better it.

Perfect conditions, perfect set-up, just a ‘wee course’, huh?

Be complacent at your peril when the fiendish James decides to get ‘creative’ with the pins.

Richard Marshall spent the whole of 2019 labouring under the moniker of Richard the Second, such was his proclivity to finish close, minus the banana.

He’d already managed it once already this season.

In the Hotel Hebrides Trophy last Saturday, he won, and with some style.

His 39 Stableford points were four better than no fewer than four other golfers, so we won’t dwell on them.

Steady as a rock over the entire course, his brace of birdies at the sixth hole (twice) were the icing on his fritter.

Whilst the rest struggled, he doggedly refused to yield anything much worse than bogey as he cruised to victory.

The previous Tuesday, in the first round of the Backpackers Stop Trophy, the greenkeeper himself was to the fore.

James Dunne, as mentioned previously, has been tampering with his game of late.

He’s taken stupidity out of the equation.

Success for James Dunne

He plays the shots he’s comfortable with and seldom reaches for any club he cannot control. In the wind and rain (yes, these are the Hebrides) he managed to finish just one down versus the course in par/bogey format.

The rest were put to the sword by various combinations of incompetence, inclement weather and improper clothing.

Down at Benbecula, club president, Archie Naylor, won the June Stableford last Monday with an excellent 39 points which saw his handicap slashed.

Runner up was Harry Luney with a very creditable 34 points.

On Wednesday the second round of the season-long Order of Merit competition was played. The winner was Shaun Brennan on 35 points, a point better than runner-up Damie Steele.

Finally, at Stornoway, we got underway with competitive golf with an ‘introductory’ Stableford at the weekend.

This format is popular with many, having spent the last three months pondering selling the clubs on eBay.

DJ MacLeod

Break ‘em in gently.

The winner, on 39 points, was the irrepressible DJ MacLeod.

Starting with two quick birdies set things up very nicely indeed.

A dropped shot at the fifth (Heather) was quickly redeemed at the sixth.

Out in 33 (two-under) put him in a great position.

He returned home in 34 (one-over) for a gross 67 and the best registered score of summer season 2020 thus far.

Five birdies were not enough for Scott MacIver (38 points) and a double-bogey, treble-bogey at 15 and 16 proved agony for Stuart Beaufoy (38 points).

Calum G Ross made a mockery of those complaining that the course set up was too tough, shooting a magnificent 86(58) in the Junior Enco Trophy.