CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP TOP
The temperature was the first to rise as we headed into the annual Cross Week on 29th July 1995 on Islay's Machrie Links. The increase to 92 competitors for the Club Championship, the Lachie Mackinnon Memorial Shield and the over 50's competition was the second
indication that this year would be something special. The two-round Championship competition was won by former Cross winner John Edgar with a gross score of 156. Local distillery worker Norman Mackinnon took both the Mackinnon Shield and the over 50's's J W Thomson Cross with net scores of 65 and 35 over 10 holes. C.S.S. was 71 Conditions had been perfect, brilliant sunshine with a slight tempering breeze on a course immaculately turned out by Gavin Campbell and his team.
THE A.G.M. PLUS TOP
Saturday evening's AGM in the Hotel saw Alastair McLachlan hand over the Captaincy to Ralph Middleton. A busy week was ahead for Ralph as he also wears the mantle of Match Secretary. After the AGM, guests were invited to an extra celebration - that of Scott and Frieda Grier's twin sons Christopher and Geoffrey's 21st birthday party. The buffet, masterfully presented by chef Mike Petrie, the dance orchestrated by the Jura Ceilidh Band and the atmosphere created by some other mystical power were a promising forerunner for the week's activities. John Mason and Alistair McLachlan's parody on Gilbert & Sullivan's 'Bold Gendarmes' for the twin's benefit is available on the Carling Label.
VISITORS -v- LOCALS TOP
After the shotgun start of the Visitors -v- Locals match on Sunday, golf was incidental as players enjoyed a walk round the course exchanging stories and once again sampling the delights of just one corner of a beautiful island. Staff at the hotel were the first to feel the effects of the increase as 90 players converged on the bar to replenish the liquid lost throughout the round. By some very strange coincidence and without intervention by mere mortals the match was once again declared a draw, eleven matches all.
THE CAPTAIN'S PRIZE TOP
By the start of the first qualifying round - the Captain's Prize - the entrants had fallen from101 to 95 and the magic century still eludes us. On Monday morning the sky was clear and a mistral type breeze promised to keep the temperature bearable. During the day perfect weather conditions helped most of the field to achieve their goal of net 75 or better. Best of the field with a net 65 was local member, Dan Heads. C.S.S. for the day was 70.
THE PEKING CUP TOP
The second qualifying round for the Cross also rewards the best player with the Peking Cup. It is one of the oldest to be held by the Club and formally the only qualifying round that was always held on the first Tuesday of August. Perfect warm weather now being forecast to last the week - could this be the perfect week for many years? At the end of the day the Peking Cup holder, another local distillery worker, Kevin Campbell, carding a net 64 with a 22 handicap, was identified. Also known were the best 32 qualifiers for the Kildalton Cross and the next best 32 who would compete for the Kildalton Plate. For the first time a Consolation Cup was on offer to the best of the non qualifiers for either the Cross or the Plate. The C.S.S. for the day was 70.
THE DRAW TOP
At the Hotel during the evening, Ann Smith, daughter of Captain Ralph decided the fate of the 32 qualifiers by pitting them head to head in the 95th challenge for the Cross. Five former Cross winners including Ann's brother Iain were in contention. Young teenage hopefuls to optimistic retirees, all stood a chance given the right circumstances. The cut had come at a surprisingly high 149.
THE CROSS TOP
The light easterly breeze rose again as the sun warmed. A change of flag positions would keep the player calculating the right club. One more club than yesterday -or is it two? The tension now rises - is it the heat or the nerves causing the perspiration? - must keep the grips dry. At 8am on Monday the first of the sixteen matches teed off. Using the traditional methodof handicapping players were either holes up or down depending on the difference in their handicaps, up to a maximum of 12. The closest match of the round happened to be the first match off and last year's winner, David Livingstone succumbed to local man Charles Holyoake at the 22nd hole. One other former Cross winner also stumbled at the first fence. The afternoon round saw the competitors reduce to eight and only two former holders left in a head to head on Tuesday. The last eight were as geographically separated as were their ages. From Pasadena via Port-na-haven; from Middlesex to Aberdeen and all points north of Port Ellen from teenagers to impending 'wrinklies' Wednesday morning's four matches were played in identical steamy conditions. Local member Ian MacCuaig had the hardest battle against Donald Cameron, our Californian resident member. The match finished on the 21st hole leaving Ian to face Port Ellen member John Campbell jnr that afternoon. Former youngest Cross winner Simon Crawford, trainee greenkeeper at Gleneagles, was successful over Port Ellen's Arthur Holyoake. This left him to face Gordon MacMillan, twice Junior Cross winner from Ashford in Middlesex. After refreshments the local members set off to establish who had the honour to face the winner of the mainland members in a two round final the next day. Again the draw had thrown up an intriguing final. The local match finished 2 and 1 but the second match required two extra holes to leave Gordon facing Ian in the final.
THE FINAL TOP
Friday's weather was predictable. To start the players off in the morning round Vice Captain Tim Morrison announced the players, confirmed that Ian started four holes up on Gordon and wished them a sporting game which he would referee. Ian increased his lead to five by the third hole but a succession of lost holes had the match all square by the turn. The second nine see sawed back and forward with never more than one hole in it. Two perfect shots into the eighteenth green for par ensured Ian a one hole lead for the afternoon. Captain Ralph Middleton was to adjudicate the afternoon 's final round. A stroke play score of 37 for Gordon to a 41 for Ian ensured a 2-hole lead at the 27th hole. A par at the 28 increased Gordon's lead but a chip from off the green for a birdie at the 29th proved to seal Ian's fate. Although picking up another hole on the road home, Ian was unable to avoid a 5 and 4 defeat. A thoroughly enjoyable match followed by dozens of spectators including proud parents Alistair and Liz. Gordon's success was no doubt achieved with the help of his sister Fiona. She, earlier in the week, had promised to pull Gordon's trolley for a couple of holes on the way to the beach. Some detour!!
THE KILDALTON PLATE TOP
While the final stages were being played another spectator, Alistair McDonald from Bowmore, had achieved success over Aberdonian, Mark Aitken, in the final of the Kildalton Plate. Alistair had come close last year but this year's success is attributed some say, to his Boron shafted hip joints that he had fitted a few years ago. The captain's wife Mary presented all the trophies won throughout the year in the hotel courtyard. To end the week's festivities the Cross Dinner would beheld in the hotel during the evening.
THE DINNER -DANCE TOP
A sumptuous meal, with three main course choices, prepared by chef Mike Petrie for the 140 members and guests was a fitting end to a perfect week. The Murray Omand Band provided the setting for farewells well into the wee sma' hours.
One was seen on the first hole in the first qualifying round when Nicol Meldrum from Aberdeen chipped in at the par four hole. The second was seen over the 12th appropriately named 'New Mount Zion' when Max McGill, contrived to cover the 174 yards par three hole with a 3 wood. His ball was found safely 'nestled' in the cup for Max's first Ace. It's a pity the club's nominated hole for the putter is the fifth but Max drowned his sorrows in his own drams provided in a packed clubhouse. What a time to have a Hole in One! Unfortunately Max lost the match- play round in the Plate to the eventual winner.
THE RISES TOP
We have seen the rises - in temperature, in competitors, in membership, in standards of both course and hotel but now -.
THE FALLS .........
Bob Hogben was awarded 9.7 for artistic impression when an almost perfect cartwheel was witnessed at the 12th. It wasn't the fact he had made the green it was more that a rabbit hole affected his stance. Bob played on but the next day the after effects probably caused a 'fail to qualify'. Speaking of after effects, there was one member, who shall remain anonymous, suffering the effects of the heat wave and the general camaraderie that is Cross Week, arrived home in the early hours. Not wishing to disturb the family he tripped on the carpet in the dark, fell, cracked his ribs on a chair and remained silent for the rest of the night. His wife, Bam, said "He was fit to golf later that day". Such Spirit!! In another round an elderly spectator was seen to fall off his shooting stick at the 18th. Fortunately neither he nor the stick was loaded at the time and no harm was caused.
AND SOME SLIPS......
A player hit his drive into the rough, a provisional was played. Both balls were lost and he returned to hit a third from the tee. After doing so his first ball was found by his playing competitors. This ball was subsequently played out. Much debate by committee resulting in a fax to the R&A. Their decision, wrong ball was played out under rule 27 (you can't go back and play a provisional), result -disqualification. A lesson for most of us. Junior Championship was under way when one of the local juniors approached Ralph smiling. On being asked why he was not on the course, the lad merely handed him his card, still smiling. Having played the first four holes conventionally the lad's drive at the fifth found the bunker and 38 (thirty-eight) shots later he holed out. The question is - who was counting?
Consolation - the lad went on to win the Junior Cross, still smiling. I was invited to relate my slip of the week, or was it dared - having had a successful first round in the qualifying a steady score in the second was all that was required. This was going well and a poor drive at the fourth hole was rectified with a perfect three wood to the top of the greenside mound. A chip and a putt for par I said confidently. Six shots later I holed out. One of them was a practice swing beside the ball with the putter. It went 11 inches! Now admit it - you've all done it, but in the qualifying for the Cross? Football has its golfing casualties. Ask Alistair Livingstone and Arthur Holyoake. The week before Cross, Arthur left the football pitch with his knee twisted. He was replaced by Alistair who lasted two minutes and will now be on crutches for weeks. Both managed Cross week, Arthur qualified with his wife Anne for support and Libba spectated with Boron shafted crutches for support.
TO " Y" FRONTS
It is rumoured that the heat so affected some Aberdeen members they removed their trousers and continued the round in their Y Fronts. I'm assured they were more acceptable boxer type shorts, where else could they have kept their ballmarkers?
QUOTES OF THE WEEK TOP
"I'll nae be hame the nicht". Aberdonian Mark Aitken was overheard on the phone at lunchtime on finals day. Having successfully reached the final of the Kildalton Plate to be held in the afternoon the 3 o'clock ferry was out. The other finalist Alistair McDonald was in such good form the match ended 8 and 7. Quipped Alistair, with his pawky sense of humour "If you hurry Mark you'll still make the ferry.
FLYING THE FLAGS TOP
This year we are indebted to Eric Grieve and John Edgar for their sponsorship of the Kildalton Cross flags. Each year they are presented to certain winners and office bearers as permanent reminders of their achievements. Suitably framed, they make an ideal wall mounted conversation piece.
MACHRIE NEWS TOP
Friday 18th August was the closing date for offers to purchase the hotel, chalets and golf course. It had been confirmed that the complex was being sold as one parcel at ,500,000 and not as separate entities. This would rule out the possibility of the club raising enough capital to acquire the course. At the closing date we understand there were 16 offers some of which were negotiable. It would seem that it will take some time before we learn who our new landlord will be. Watch this space! The chef, Mike Petrie, who has done so well this year, is returning to Aberdeen to his own business. He has shown over the summer season how to get the customers back. Gavin Campbell, the greenkeeper, continues the work that brought the course up to perfect standards for Cross Week. He is presently making new tees for the ladies and creating bunkers where water is a problem in the winter. We await the decision whether the hotel and chalets remain open over the winter but we are fairly certain the course will be available for our winter league and other competitions.