Islay Golf Club's oldest trophy has returned to the Club after almost a hundred years.
In 1894, Sir Peter Jeffrey Mackie, the owner of Lagavulin Distillery, together with like minded businessmen, including John Ramsay, inaugurated the Islay Golf Club.
At that time new formed clubs were vying with each other to attract the best of British golfers and in so doing Mackie presented the magnificent Quaich for open competition. The first player to win the trophy was local man J Bolland. In subsequent years the trophy was won on three separate occasions by H C Cameron. As was the custom in those days the winner, despite the cost of such an expensive silver trophy, was allowed to retain it and so in 1899 it left Islay.
It remained in the Cameron family till the early 1970's when it was sold at auction in London. A local jeweller purchased the silverware and contacted the Club to do further business. Thinking it was one of the trophies stolen from the hotel a few years earlier, committee members were despatched to identify it. Unfortunately it was not one of the stolen items and the Quaich remained with the jeweller. The quaich was subsequently offered back to the United Distillers Company for an agreed figure.
During the 1980's the trophy was played for by teams in the distilling trade and for the past ten years it had been used only for display purposes.
Recently approaches have been made from U.D.'s offices at Shieldhall to John Edgar one of their golfing employees at Lagavulin. As a result the trophy was recently officially handed over from Mr Michael Nicholson, Lagavulin's Manager to Ralph Middleton, the Club's captain.
The committee are now considering what format of competition would best recognise their oldest trophy.
Wilf Cook and his wife Georgina spent the winter and spring staying with various relatives as their Bearsden house had been flood damaged. They were staying at a friends house on Islay before returning to Glasgow. Wilf, a keen golfer, phoned to fix a round with a local member and as a result, Wilf, Alastair MacMillan on holiday from Middlesex, Ralph Middleton and yours truly were seated in the Golf Bar reflecting on a pleasant round. Wilf, noticing Alistair's Club sweater, volunteered that he and his wife had just returned from Ashford. His daughter was married to a radiographer who worked in a Middlesex Hospital. Alistair - " My wife, Liz, works as a radiographer in Middlesex General Hospital but there are five such in the area". Wilf, "I don't know which one my son-in-law works in". Enter the wives (from different directions) . After introductions, "Georgina which hospital does Brian work in"?. "Middlesex General". Liz to the Cooks, "Brian, the radiographer?, he's on the opposite shift to me. How are your grandchildren, did they get over that bad cold they had "?.............
The purchase of the R&A book "Decisions on the Rules of Golf" has highlighted some strange cases which might make you think.
"B removes the flagstick, places it on the putting green behind the hole and putts. A believing that B's ball will strike the flag, picks it up allowing B's ball to roll beyond where the flagstick had been placed"
A loses the hole in match play or two strokes in stroke play. B incurs no penalty
On the tee a player may look at an opponents bag to determine which club has been selected but don't dare move a towel or head cover to see.
A player may use a device to warm his hands but he dare not use it to warm his balls. Rule 14-3
A players ball runs down a rabbit hole in a bunker and finishes at a vertical point below the green.
The ball may be placed on the green above that point
'HOLE IN ONE' CLUB INCREASES ITS MEMBERS
In January Malcolm King achieved his first hole in one at the fifth. On Sunday 12 May, Ian Turner was playing against yours truly and again at the fifth he aced his tee shot. This time it was in competition and Ian qualifies for the 'Sunday Post' putter. More remarkable was the fact that Ian qualified for the match play rounds of the White Horse trophy having taken an eight at the same hole
So you thought you came to Machrie to just golf and sample local produce. Well extend your horizons! Your next visit will surprise you. Croquette on the lawn, hockey /five a side pitch, climbing frames and swings (for the children). The snooker room has been decorated and is now very inviting. A Nature Trail has been mapped out and depending on the season the variety of flora and fauna will be quite surprising.
Three lodges have been completely refurbished and indicate the future standard of them all.
The reception area and bedroom suites have also received a major uplift and the Machrie Tartan will soon be on display on furnishings and staff.
Belinda is back again and she is in charge of the newly stocked shop with a wide variety of items, not just golfing requisites.
The cuisine is superb and locals are making much use of the Byre Restaurant as an alternative of places to go.
Anthony has arranged for Stewart Russell, the professional at Hilton Park to attend on 30, 31 July and 1 August to give lessons prior to Cross Week. Time sheets are displayed in the clubhouse for members to complete in advance. Junior coaching will also be provided, paid for by the club, and hopefully he may pass some if them in the Golf Foundation Proficiency tests.
THE MACHRIE OPEN
After an absence of six years the Machrie Open has been reinstated by the new owner of Machrie Golf Links on Islay, Mr Malcolm King. Together with the local distillery, Caol Ila, the once prestigious open competition is again on Islay Golf Club's fixture list.
The three day event brought competitors from as far as Surrey, Wales and Aberdeen with good support from Oban, Lochgilphead and Greenock. A total field of 54 entered the qualifying round on Thursday 6 June with starting times staggered throughout the day.
One distraught entrant, Neil Armour, had been delayed on the mainland and phoned for an extended tee-off time which was granted.
Only this far north could a competitor leave Oban by car, drive 60 miles to the ferry terminal, board the ferry at 6pm, disembark at 8.25pm, drive to the course, tee-off with a marker at 8.35pm, complete his round and return his card by 10.25pm and still qualify for the top 16 players. Not the fittest or youngest of the competitors, Neil recovered well without medical aid.
The best 16 gross scores were to set the field for the ,200 winner's voucher and the new Machrie Open Crystal Vase donated by Malcolm King. The second 16 were to continue in a handicap competition for ,100 voucher and the new Caol Ila Claret Jug, presented and sponsored by the distillers, courtesy of Mr David Hardy, the local manager.
Not to disappoint the non-qualifiers, a Stableford Competition, would later be held with a prize of a suitable amount of local produce to drown their sorrows.
Weather forecasts were favourable for the weekend and the course had been presented more user-friendly with the infamous rough of yesteryear reduced to a controllable height and fairways widened.
Perfect conditions for the qualifying round on Thursday were not reflected in the cut which came at a high of 84. No one had parred the course but one of the best rounds was a 78 from visiting member, David Livingstone, previous Kildalton Cross winner, with a nine at the 163 yard, per 3, fifth hole. David asks that the name of the 17th hole, "Ifrinn", (Hell in gaelic) be transferred to the bunker guarding the fifth.
The 16 qualifiers comprised an even number of visitors to locals. The eliminating two rounds held on Friday, saw most matches using most of the prescribed holes for results. Several others ventured down the 19th fairway while others ventured to the 19th hole for consolation. Neil, would you believe, lost his second marathon by failing to drop a short putt on the 22nd.
The handicap contestants were also making full use of the holes provided and were loath to leave the summer conditions which prevailed.
By Saturday the semi-finalists were on stage in again perfect conditions. A tempering breeze, while not affecting the golf, kept the golfers (and caddies) from overheating. Saturday's players in the scratch and handicap were reduced to local members with the exception of Jim Litster, a 3 handicapper from Lochgilphead.
Past Cross Runner-up, Bob Hogben was drawn to play Jim, locally renowned for his effective 'shinty' swing. Bob's 9 handicap would have been in stroke play jeopardy as he confidently chipped and putted his way out of trouble. Honour oscillated till the last putt on the last green won Bob through to the afternoon's final.
Ahead the other semi-final as being played out by Simon Crawford, Islay's youngest Cross winner, and local member Sandy Peter. Sandy two holes down early in the match fought back to all square at the 18th. The 19th was halved in par but at the 20th Simon's ball found the rough near the out of bounds and failure to clear it well cost him the match.
The handicap section were also enjoying the competition. At the semi-final stage Colin Robertson was successful over Alistair McDonald and Kenny Gillies was triumphant Mickey Heads.
Ideal conditions prevailed at 1pm when the finalists were introduced by match referee, Captain Ralph Middleton.
An entourage of supporters followed the contestants as the final round proceeded. Halves in par until the third hole when Bob three putted from the back of the green to put Sandy one ahead.
Honour remained till the 7th when Bob's second shot found the new bunker in front of the green and Sandy's conventional four put him two up. Sandy's putting saw him three up at the 10th and a par at the 11th gave him a comfortable lead of four. At the 12th Sandy's pulled tee shot was punished by Bob's first confident par putt of the round. Another chance for a birdie win failed when Bob's downhill 10 footer stopped an inch from the hole. At the 14th Sandy's wayward tee shot left the door open but his opponent's pulled chip to the green left him dormie four. Houdini Hogben, with nothing to lose, tramlined his first birdie putt from 30 feet at 15th to reduce the deficit. A par at the 16th was enough to take it further. Was it Mission Impossible?
Perfect drives from both at 17th (Hell Hole, remember?) left the approach shots crucial.
Clubbed perfectly by yours truly, (I was told later), Robert smacked a perfect 6 iron, into the rough at the side of the green to leave Sandy the deserved winner of the Machrie Open.
The handicap finalists were also enjoying close encounter after Colin had gone four up by 10th. Kenny pulled the next two holes back to close the gap but Colin held on till they reached that Hell of a hole and this match also finished at the 17th.
Meanwhile, Allan Middleton, of that famous golfing family, totalled 36 points to win the Consolation Stableford event.
The prizegiving was held in the Hotel's courtyard where Ralph Middleton introduced Mr Malcolm King and Mr David Hardy to those assembled before they were asked to present their respective trophies and prizes to the winners.
Every one of the 54 starters were winners, as each had not only sampled the delights of Machrie but had guaranteed the success of the Machrie Open for future years.