By John Marshall
In the blue riband event of the men’s season – the Club Championship – the first qualifying round was blighted by the weather.
Played over the whole weekend you ‘pays your money’ but only a handful of corrivals on Saturday afternoon had decent conditions in which to display their full range of skills while the rest of the competitors succumbed to cold, windy, drizzly conditions – not forgetting the intermittent inundatory downpours.
If Saturday afternoon offered the best playing conditions then the award for worst conditions goes to Sunday morning – but even then a pair of hardy souls actually played and competed!
The scores returned, though not reflecting the true abilities of most of the golfers, looked to this non-participating observer at least to be thoroughly respectable given the conditions.
Playing on the Saturday afternoon defending champion Ryan Macaskill returned the lowest score of the first round.
Although he required 38 blows to navigate the first part of his examination paper he needed only 35 biffs, including two birdies to complete his task for the day and lead the qualifiers into the second and final round.
Playing earlier that day and in the worst of the weather John Maclean recorded a doublet of 37s, also including two birdies.
That saw him secure second place in what was to be an excellent ‘field’ who turned up in good numbers to support our premier club competition albeit in the aforesaid unpleasant weather conditions.
Partnering John Maclean, Archie Macaskill matched his more experienced playing partner’s opening total of 37 for the first lap of the track but perhaps the youngster found the conditions rather unfamiliar in his fledgling golfing career as he concluded his round with four successive bogeys.
However as they like to say in football when a team gets pumped 6-0 ‘we learned a lesson and will come back stronger’.
Hopefully Archie does.
Ross turns it around
Performance of the round though must surely belong to Ross Cumming who sits among the top four after round one.
Off his 16 handicap he started 6, 6 and in the intemperate conditions might have been forgiven for wishing he’d stayed in bed. But he soldiered on to complete his first nine holes in an estimable 41 shots.
Goodness only knows what happened at half time but he required only 35 shots for the second nine, a gross score of 76 and a nett 60 which was to be the joint lowest nett score recorded during the whole weekend.
Great stuff there and with a higher handicap than all those around him and very much in contention he has nothing to lose in the second and final round.
Best wishes Ross-great play!
Lots in contention
Of course that’s only one round gone but with one still to play the likeliest contenders to depose those already occupying the qualifying positions could be Chris Mackinnon, Murdo Gordon, John Finlayson, Robert Macaskill or even Dan Macdonald.
Chris was 40/37, Murdo’s halves were 38/39, John’s loops were 39/39, Robert was 38/40 and finally young Dan was 39/40.
All these guys have a chance depending on how the leaders perform next time out but an honourable mention for John Finlayson who, like Ally Young in the RNLI Shield last time out compiled a fine score in the worst of the conditions.
Sunday dawned cold, wet and very windy and both he and his companion for the day wondered at the outset whether they would be able to complete their round as the greens were already holding water.
Two birdies in the final three holes of the first nine must have inspired John to dig in and that is exactly what he did to retain his chance of qualification.
Although the competition is played off scratch the four players with the best two-round handicap scores will compete for the consolation ‘handicap’ championship.
A meritorious performance here to consider for inclusion might well come from Hamish Philp whose nett 60 off a 28 handicap was a terrific performance in his renaissance as a golfer.
Obviously off that highish handicap his numbers won’t compare too favourably with the ‘lower’ men but two loops of 43 and 45 in the steady Saturday morning rain should give him a tremendous boost of confidence for both round two and the rest of this fledgling season?
Sandi wins again
Sunday morning’s weather conditions meant the scheduled ladies’ competition was abandoned without a ball being hit.
However, a couple of days later a lovely sunny and warm Tuesday welcomed a small group for another round in the Glamaig Stableford competition and yet again Sandi Beatson was declared to be the clear winner.
That’s four successive victories and this time the margin was six points over her nearest pursuants Sandra Dew and Shona Jackson.
With respect the scoring wasn’t great but was readily acceptable within the confines of the competitors and that’s plenty good enough.
The first midweek competition of this much-delayed men’s season was played for the Strath Cup.
This trophy is usually decided on a season-long, best three from four scores basis but the club mandarins have to cut and paste a structure in this necessarily compressed playing season to keep the members and competitors happy so it was all or nothing in one single day.
And what a day it turned out to be with warm sunshine and just a whisper of a breeze for the thirteen hours of competition.
The fly in the ointment though was John-the-Greens’ concept of what constitutes a ‘challenging’ hole position on his well-nourished, nicely manicured putting surfaces.
Rumour has it that he’s ‘a bit of a player’ but as he’s yet to strike a single ball in anger the jury remains quite positively indecisive on that one.
However, on the assumption that he does actually play the ‘great game’ his mischievous positioning of pins-when he doesn’t have to try to access them-is causing some consternation and rabble’s babble.
Irrespective of the pin positions however, Batman and Robin were at it again as playing companions for yet another highly successful day.
Archie Macaskill and John Maclean reprised their excellent performances from round one of the Club Championship last weekend to finish first and second respectively.
Off the tee in the second group of the day and having overtaken the trio of old boys in front they were the first players to log their scores and their totals were to remain nonpareil all day long despite a mighty challenge from the large group of competitors.
Archie won the trophy and took the honours with 43 points, his two nines being 37 and 34.
Going out-of-bounds with his tee shot on the fourth hole was to cost him an 8 but he immediately secured a birdie 2 on the very next hole to get him up and running again.
Celebrating his 16th birthday on the course that very day the youngster went on to finish strongly with two more birdies in the final three holes of his round-great stuff and very well done.
John in form
John Maclean is playing more golf than for many a year as the pandemic has meant that his tourism-related business is closed and is likely to remain so for the time being.
But that has allowed him to play more golf, work on his game and slowly but surely his handicap is coming down.
35 shots were required for the first half and 37 for the second was good enough for 42 points and also included three birdies so the dynamic duo obviously gel very well on the golf course.
Eased out of second place by virtue of the better inward half Lou Gordon nevertheless returned a highly creditable score of 42pts.
Lou navigated the outward half of his round in a miserly 36 shots and like Archie and John also had three birdies-in the space of five holes. But two lost balls off the 18th tee unfortunately put paid to his chances of victory.
Graham Smith and Ryan Macaskill were the ‘best of the rest’ as they both signed for respectable 39pts totals – the former easing the latter by….you know the story by now?
Graham required 41 blows for his first lap but a sparkling 36 shots for the second lap with five straight pars to finish showed guts, determination and the promise of things to come?
Ryan is fairly steady off his 6 handicap and 34/36 was pretty well run of the mill scoring for him. An incident-free round.
Honourable mention in this competition for Andrew Long who after a faltering start turned-to in good order slotting four birdies in the run-in, including three birdies in the first four holes of lap two.
This weekend the ladies will be competing for the ‘First Minister’s Quaich’ while the gentlemen will play for the ‘Iain Campbell Memorial Trophy’ – in scramble format – on Saturday with a pop-up Bogey competition scheduled for Sunday.
On reflection then the golf season on the Isle of Skye is successfully up and running, the course is in excellent trim but still the times are strange.
Quite correctly denied the use of the clubhouse to date and sadly for the foreseeable future the club lacks a focal point and with competitors playing with their pals social integration and interaction is exiguous to say the very least.
It’s important that we appreciate and enjoy what we’ve got, reflect on what was missing from our lives for the three months of lockdown and just play golf and look forward to a brighter future.
Tues 7th July, Glamaig Stableford: 1 S Beatson 32pts; 2.S Dew 26pts bih; 3 S Jackson 26pts.
Sat 4th/Sun 5th July, Club Championship Qualifier, Round One: Leading Scores. 1. R Macaskill 73; 2. J Maclean 74; 3. R Cumming 76; 4. A Macaskill 76; 5.C Mackinnon 77; 6. M Gordon 77; 7. J Finlayson 78; 8. R Macaskill 78; 9. D Macdonald 79.
Wed 8th July, Strath Cup: 1. A Macaskill 43pts; 2. J Maclean 42pts bih; 3. L Gordon 42pts; 4. G Smith 39pts bih; 5. R Macaskill 39pts.