Isle of Golf: Macaskill stamps his authority in “emphatic style”

Saturday seems to have become the day of choice for weekend competitive golf at the Isle of Skye Golf Club’s Sconser course.

In days of yore, there was pretty well a 50-50 split but recently 90 per cent of the competitive play has been on Saturdays and that’s how it was recently for the second and final qualifying round of the club championship.

Once again it was defending champion and current UHI golf student Ryan Macaskill who stamped his authority on the qualifiers in emphatic style with a fine total of 68 which was by some distance the lowest score recorded in either of the two qualifying rounds.

Like his previous round, there was nothing brilliant in this score apart from its consistently high standard with a couple of birdies and halves of 33 and 35 – as easy as you like!

It was a Macaskill again, this time wee brother Archie who secured second place with a score of 75. His two-loop scores were 37 and 38 with a bit of an adventure on the final hole. I understand that the wind ‘knocked down’ his shot to the green and Billy the Bunker gratefully received it.

Unfortunately in these times of Covid restrictions, the rakes have been removed from bunkers for health and safety reasons so the ‘lie’ in the sand was less than good and he took two biffs to extricate his ball. Obviously shell-shocked and disappointed at a doubly bad break the youngster took three more shots to hole out so a possible 72 rapidly metamorphosed into a 75.

Also submitting a decent score of 75 on the day was Dan Macdonald. Covid travelling difficulties mean that this young fella hasn’t played as much golf recently as I’m sure he would have liked and he’s showing some signs of early-season rust.

Two birdies in his round but also two snowmen- that’s eights to the non-golfer- I bet it’s been a while since he had even one in a round never mind two, so there’s plenty room for improvement there?

Jim Cumming hit a bit of form, no doubt under pressure from his son Ross who’s been playing well recently and two nines of 39 and 38 saw him submit a nice score on the day but the damage to his overall chances was done last week with a poorish first round.

Murdo Gordon and Alex Munro completed the ‘prize list’ on the day each signing for scores of 78. Alex was unable to compete in the first round but submitted laps of 38 and 40. Murdo reversed Alex’s nines in what would ultimately prove to be a disappointing day for the former champion.

When the sums were done the four qualifiers for the matchplay semifinals were Ryan Macaskill, Archie Macaskill, Dan Macdonald, and John Maclean!

Yes, John Maclean who hasn’t featured so far in today’s write-up. In what was described to me as challenging conditions on Saturday morning John struggled with his game early on and will have been disappointed to sign for 41 and 40 for his two laps.

However, a robust performance last week saw him secure the fourth and final qualifying spot overall edging Murdo Gordon out of contention. Both players were tied on the same total leaving the computer to determine who would progress.

So it’s Ryan v John and Archie v Dan in the semis.

Although the blue riband competition was the priority there was also the ‘handicap’ equivalent to play for and the four qualifiers to contest their matchplay semi-finals are Ross Cumming, Robbie Weir, John Finlayson and Jim Cumming respectively.

Ross added a nett 66 to last week’s 60, Robbie delivered a nice 65 to add to the previous 67, John added 68 to 65, and finally Jimmy an excellent 63 in the damp, windy conditions of Saturday morning to dramatically improve on his 72 from the previous week.

Unlike the Macaskill clan who were kept apart in the ‘scratch’ section, it’s ‘son’ Ross versus ‘dad’ Jim and Robbie versus John in the matchplay semis.

In an innovative move by this committee- that’s why it’s always good to try to recruit fresh faces and consequent new ideas each year- the denouement of the club championship in both divisions will be played to a conclusion on the afternoon of Saturday 12th September subject of course to Covid rules and regulations that may or may not be in place at that date and time.

In an unprecedented move by the club, it is hoped members and possibly even spectators will be able to watch the final matches- a practice that is commonplace in many larger golf clubs in the country.

Perhaps even a sponsor could be attracted to raise the profile of the event?

On Sunday the ladies came out to play the second round of their club championship and like the gents equivalent, it’s also played off scratch.

Donalda Johnston shot 91 and beat long-time rival Jill Mackinnon into second place by one single shot. For many years now these two competitors have breathed life into the ladies section and to this observer at least they’re starting to get a nice wee group of ladies to compete as well as play social golf on a more regular basis.

Sandi Beatson has gone off like a whizz-bang so far this season but there appears to be some signs of life in these ‘veterans’ yet?

The ladies were back on the course again a couple of days later this time competing in another round of their Glamaig Stableford competition but although there were several girls booked to be on the course only one pair were eventually able to compete-it only takes two to tango though?

Sandi Beatson re-entered the winner’s circle with an honest total of 31pts while her playing companion and opponent Sandra Dew returned 23 points for her day’s effort on the links.

A plain, ordinary, common Medal was the midweek competition of choice on the gents fixture list but only a mere sprinkling of competitors were prepared to play Russian roulette with the unsavoury weather conditions.

The first two cabs off the rank were utterly unenthusiastic about the conditions prior to teeing off but tried and failed before aborting their mission and retreating to the sanctuary of home to dry off and warm up.

However, in adversity, someone always puts on a show and this time it was Stewart Johnston Snr. who defied the day-long ninja showers to shoot a dramatic handicap-bursting nett score of 60. Off his 25 ‘mark’ he limped out in 44 strokes but sorted himself out second time around with a nice 41 and a winning total.

New recruit to the competitive scene at the club Alistair Sutherland, off 7 produced a controlled display of golf to record meritorious nines of 38 and 35 starting with a birdie in the first hole and finishing with a birdie on the last-well done sir!

On a consistent run of form just now chef Graham Smith cooked up another tasty dish with 41 and 38 for his two laps on a dampish track. Graham like Alistair signed for a 66 but lost out on the better inward half countback.

This weekend the ladies were meant to be entertaining their counterparts from Lochcarron in the first of the two-leg annual club match but the current restrictions mean the match will be rescheduled for later in the season and a medal competition has replaced it on the calendar.

The gents will be competing in a two category handicap competition-the Alpha Trophy for the category one (0-12) players and the Sconser Trophy for their category two (13+) companions.

Finally, the club is pleased to announce that provision has now been made to allow visitors and non-members to play on the course but under the strict regulations required to comply with current government Covid policy.

Booking and registration are compulsory and prospective players can find all the information they require either on the club’s website or on the noticeboards at the clubhouse.


Ladies Section

Sun 12th July, Ladies Championship, Round Two.

1.D Johnston 91;
2.J Mackinnon 92.

Tues 14th July, Glamaig Stableford.

1.S Beatson 31pts;
2.S Dew 23pts.

Gents Section

Sat 11th/Sun 12th July, Club Championship, Round Two.

1.R Macaskill 68;
2.A Macaskill 75;
3.D Macdonald 75;
4.J Cumming 77;
5.M Gordon 78;
6.A Munro 78.

Qualifiers for matchplay semi-finals (Scratch)

1.R Macaskill 68+73=141;
2.A Macaskill 75+76=151;
3.D Macdonald 75+79=154;
4.J Maclean 81+74=155.

Qualifiers for matchplay semi-finals (Handicap)

1.R Cumming 66+60=126;
2.R Weir 65+67=132;
3.J Finlayson 68+65=133;
4.J Cumming 63+72=135.

Wed 15th July, Medal.

1.S Johnston Snr. 85(25) nett 60. 2 A Sutherland 73(7) 66 bih;
3.G Smith 79(13) 66.