There was welcome respite from the usual individual competitive diet at the Isle of Skye Golf Club recently when two 'fun' formats occupied prime position at the weekend.
First up on Saturday was a 3-Man Scramble, a format where members choose their own playing partners and attempt to mould three sometimes disparate styles and strategies into a composite whole! The day dawned bright and sunny but a very strong Baltic blast ensured that it wasn't going to be an easy ride for what was to be a decent turnout of teams. The scramble format dictates that all players play their tee shots and then the best shot is selected and all players play from that position, and so on till the ball is holed. The shotgun start meant that groups all started off different tees - then battle commenced.
Back in the day we actually fired a shotgun on the course to begin proceedings then car horns were used to start play but things are generally more sanitised now!
Starting on the second tee and straight into the wind were the eventual victors - 'The Sheisters' - the team of Alex Munro(8), Chris Hanley(9), and Andrew Long(8). On paper they were certainly favourites with a handicap allowance of only 3.1 but as we all know the game is not played on paper. Starting with a difficult shot into the hoolie off the second tee they recorded a strong par then later added three birdies to complete the first portion of their round.Their only blemish was a bogey (one over par) on the seventh hole. They caught fire towards the conclusion of their second circuit with a really splendid finish of five birdies in seven holes. Overall then eight birdies, a gross total of 60.0 and nett 56.9 in testing conditions - an unassailable lead?
It was to be good enough - but it was a very, very close call. The runners-up were the 'Scone sir?' team of James Colven(21), John Maclean(12) and John Marshall(13). They started on the ninth tee and found an excellent putting touch early on harvesting a most acceptable haul of four birdies in their first six holes. However it didn't last and they became becalmed for several holes, apart from one more isolated birdie, then committed the most heinous of crimes in this format, they too recorded a bogey! Their final total was 63.0 minus their 5.8 handicap for a nett total of 57.2 and defeat by 0.3 of a single shot!
However,on paper at least the winners off their handicaps and with a couple of bombers in their team compared with only one in the other team were expected to win but in the end the competition was good, fair, tough and there was much banter and generally good craic about the day's events in the clubhouse following the conclusion of the game.
Next day the troops assembled to play a Greensomes competition. Like the previous day's event members selected their own playing partners and like Saturday there was a relaxed air about proceedings. The weather was kind as the teams assembled to compete in a format where teams of two play together. Both players hit their tee shots, select the better one then one ball is played alternately till holed out. Like its companion format the previous day, it offers a respite, however brief, from the formal competition diet. Incidentally, by my calculations, to date we'll have had 15 days of competitive play since the season began - 12 Stablefords and 3 'others'. As mentioned previously the predominant - for the time being at least - Stableford form of play affords a degree of latitude that pure strokeplay does not and whilst the former format favours the more volatile higher-handicappers in the club, the latter offers the better players greater opportunity to parade their skills - but a 'balance' of 12/3?
One is extremely reluctant to don one's Mystic Meg garb and gaze into the crystal ball to see what's waiting further down the line.
The winners of the Greensomes competition then were the father and son combination of Robert and Archie Macaskill with a fine total of 42pts - even this competition was converted into Stableford formula. Despite a 5,6 start to their round off a 12 handicap they completed the first 'nine' in 37 shots for 20pts! A stronger start launched their second half and they did very well to complete the lap in 36 blows which converted to 22pts and ultimately their winning total.
Runners-up were the pairing of Alex Munro and Chris Hanley - having 'jettisoned' Andrew Long from their victorious Scramble team 24hrs earlier. Did he walk or was he pushed? These boys had a steady outward nine of 36 shots,their 8 handicap converting to 19pts but struggled to finish their round with two bogeys and a total of 38 blows for 18pts.
Incidentally, prior to this competition someone who shall remain nameless posted a Tweet on the club's website containing a link explaining the 'rules of procedure' for this more unusual form of play. Unfortunately the person who posted the 'advice' failed to read it as he and consequently his playing companion for the day were disqualified mid-round! You couldn't make it up!
This weekend's competition is the RNLI Shield whilst the ladies officially open their playing season on Sunday.
Sat 13th April,3 - Man Scramble.
1)' The Sheisters' - A.Munro, A.Long and C.Hanley - 56.9,
2) 'Scone sir?' - J.Colven, J.Maclean and J.Marshall - 57.2
Sun 14th April, Greensomes.
1) A.Macaskill and R.Macaskill 42pts,
2) A.Munro and C.Hanley 37pts.