Island golf: Mastering the three club challenge as Hebridean competitions continue

Norrie T MacDonald, the 19th hole

One of the hardest/easiest formats for golfing competition is the three-club trial.

The premise is basic and simple enough, the execution not quite so straightforward.

With the putter a ‘given’ in 99 per cent of cases, it becomes, in reality, a two-club competition.

So what to pick?

For most of us ‘normal’, and I use the term loosely, golfers; a wood (in reality there’s no such thing unless you’re still stuck in the last century, using persimmons) and a lofted iron are the clubs of choice to accompany the small stick.

The bigger hitters, depending on the length and degree of difficulty of the layout, might opt for a low-iron and one of their collection of a dozen or so wedges.

This still baffles me.

I have two.

One says PW and the other SW.

Pretty wide and South West.

Each to their own.

Down at Scarista on Tuesday night, again with conditions varying from ideal to the sublime; the faithful attempted to navigate their course with plenty of spare room in the bag for supplements.

The stand out winner, by no fewer than four clear shots, was the cook who everybody called a damned fine fellow.

Russell Tennant should have been much further out of sight.

A treble and quadruple bogey, on an otherwise outstanding card, ultimately caused no serious damage as the rest struggled to come remotely close.

His 81(67) now has him contemplating the wisdom of additional choices.

Sometimes it’s much easier when Mr Hobson gets involved.

In the first Hearach ‘major’ of a truncated season, on Saturday Neil Rowlands conquered a tricky breeze better than anyone else to claim his first trophy in several years at the club where he has been their ‘champion golfer’ more times than anyone in recent history.

Marriage and the birth of twins can have a sobering effect on a player who regularly in the past has demonstrated his mastery of the stunning links.

The ‘Daily Mail Millennium Trophy’ was prized from the fingers of local hero, Billy Fraser, by just a single shot.

His brilliant 69(64) was scattered with excellent shot-making, recovery play and putting ‘insight’.

Scarista in the wind demands no less.

On the way out he birdied the 1st and the 6th, before turning back with a brace at 10 and 11.

Some minor slips were immaterial, but the double on his 17th hole could have proved very costly.

Luckily he made par at the beautifully constructed, new, 9th/18th to secure the win.

I’ll say to anyone, that conquering the two tricky par-3s, 7 and 8, especially in a wind, is the key to scoring well around Scarista.

They very nearly proved expensive for Neil.

Further south at Benbecula, Dami Steele continues his impressive start to the season, winning again in the Order of Merit competition on Tuesday night.

Dami Steele

His 38 points beat Willie Monk (36pts) into second spot on the night.

Points are awarded for how you finish, relative to the rest of the field.

Dami leads on 28 points, 6 clear of Shaun Brennan.

The first half of the 2020 President’s Cup was played on Saturday 20th June.

In a tight finish, Iain MacDonald took first place and maximum points on count back from our President and reigning champion Archie Naylor.

Points awarded on a sliding scale from first to last.

Winner: Iain MacDonald (61)

Runner-up: Archie Naylor (61)

Third: Willie John Monk (62)

Standings after first round below:

  1. Iain MacDonald 13 pts
  2. Archie Naylor    12 pts
  3. W.J. Monk.        11 pts

Down at Askernish, Captain Colin sends us this report:

June Medal – after a 3 month delay,  it was good to get back to competitive golf and this was reflected in a very healthy turnout. Played in fine conditions on a fast and tight links, scoring was probably above normal, given the fine weather, but obviously some players need some time to shake off the rust caused by the enforced lay off. Taking the first competition of the season (and surprisingly his first medal given that he has been here 4 years and is currently Club Champion) was Derek Cowan with a one under par nett 71.

No great surprise as he also carded this score in a bounce game with me on Friday and has a few rounds under his belt since golf returned.

Runner up was Ron MacKinnon with a Nett 72 and unfortunately he couldn’t match his bounce game the previous day when he posted a Nett 66!

The competitions will hopefully come thick and fast now and fingers crossed a bit more normality will return and we will be allowed larger group sizes.

June Medal Result

1st – Derek Cowan – 71

2nd – Ron MacKinnon – 72

3rd – Ralph Thompson – 73

Last Sunday, the ‘Longest Day Cup’ was played in blustery conditions and this was reflected in the scores returned, although to be fair nobody walked off for the 2nd week in a row! The winner was Steve Montgomery on 34 points with a round that was a classic case of the proverbial ‘game of 2 halves’.

Reaching the turn with the joint lowest score of 10, Steve romped his way through the back nine scoring a magnificent 24 points, coming home to seal victory by one.

Ralph Thompson improved to silver from last week’s bronze (position) with 33 and Ron MacKinnon reversed roles with Ralph finishing 3rd on the same total and again lamenting a tame finish to his round.”

Stornoway Golf Club, too, saw its first ‘big’ competition of the 18-hole season, the ‘Barber Trophy’, decided last week.

On Wednesday night, Colin MacRitchie narrowly pipped David Black by just a single shot to claim the first round of what promises to be a summer-long battle for dominance amongst the low-handicappers.

Birdies at the 2nd and 4th holes had Colin out in 2-under, 33.

The route ‘home’, however, wasn’t quite so straightforward.

Despite picking up another stroke at the 13th, a trio of dropped shots at the 11th, 15th and 18th took him back to level par, gross.

His 68(67) was just enough.

Davie had started bogey-birdie-bogey, before completing the next 15 holes in two under par. Standing on the 17th tee, ‘all’ he needed to do was finish with a brace of pars.

Peter Grant

If Scarista’s treacherous pair of par-3s at 7 & 8, measuring 159 and 182 yards, can have a huge bearing on any final outcome; then 17 & 18 at Lady Lever Park must surely fall squarely into a similar, ‘dangerous’, category.

At 230 & 209 yds respectively; they require a degree of skill, and no little good fortune, to negotiate in six shots or close.

Davie, as he has managed on his last three outings, could only manage to bogey both.

The difference between the guys at the top may well hinge on their ability to ‘close the deal’.

It promises to be an interesting summer.

In the handicap trophy, Darren Beattie’s recent practice has proved invaluable.

Nothing worse than single dropped shots is always a recipe for success for anyone of a mid to high handicap. Throw in a birdie and and an eagle and you might justifiably expect to be at the meaningful end of the leaderboard.

His 73(63) was a whisker in front of Michael Black’s, 81(64).

In Saturday’s TCB trophy, a gentleman who doesn’t mind the odd sponsor’s product to cool him down after a hard day’s hacking around, took a firm grip on the prize following a birdie at the 2nd hole and four pars on his opening 9 holes.

Despite a few scares on the way home, he managed a 3 on the last to pull the prize from under the nose of Stuart Beaufoy (yes, he bogied 18).

Peter Grant’s 83(65) was a hard-fought victory on a course where any errant shot, finding even the semi-rough, yields nothing but trouble.

The war of attrition, combined with the focus and determination required to navigate 18 tough holes, can leave even the most gritty of golfers drouthy around the lips.

Peter deserved his second can.

In the junior medal, Calum G. Ross, 82(57) took the plaudits by no fewer than 15 shots from a distant field.

It’s not often anyone follows up a nett 58 with an even better score, knocking 8 shots off their handicap in the process.

Take a bow young man.