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Brora golfers targeting win number 21 in Dornoch Firth League

By Staff Reporter- NOSN

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Brora Golf Club is ready to celebrate win number 21 when its course hosts the Dornoch Firth League championship against Golspie, Invergordon, Tain and Royal Dornoch this weekend.

Since the scratch league was instituted in 1973 the format for the seven-man scratch teams was midweek home with home and away matches against Dornoch, Golspie and Tain, with Dornoch the first year’s winners. Then in 1977 Invergordon were admitted into the league and the format changed to one weekend of play at rotating venues.

Since then Brora, when hosting, have been beaten only once. That was in 2004 when, after finishing in a tied points total with Dornoch, the Targe was awarded to Dornoch on the tiebreak that Dornoch had beaten Brora in the round-robin fixture.

The Brora course is the setting for the Dornoch Firth League championship against Golspie, Invergordon, Tain and Royal Dornoch. Picture: Louise Mackay
The Brora course is the setting for the Dornoch Firth League championship against Golspie, Invergordon, Tain and Royal Dornoch. Picture: Louise Mackay

At Golspie two years ago Brora brought their number of wins up to 20 and for this weekend have brought into their seven-man team selection Highland Club member Dougie Thorburn (Wick) and away member Stuart Murray (Falkirk). They join the pool of James MacBeath, Roddy Cameron, Robert MacDonald, Graham Grant, Calum Stewart and Owen MacLennan.

Tain arrive to defend the Targe with an eight-player squad of Billy and Munro Ferries, Sean Kennedy, Ian Cowper, Gary Thom, Chris Ilett, Gus Gurney, Graham MacKintosh and Kieran MacKay.

Royal Dornoch even without Chris Mailley will be a big threat with their strong pool of 10 headed by Kevin Matheson and including Brian Watson, Liam MacDonald-MacLeod, Craig Mackay, Bryan Urquhart, Graham Minton, Craig Sutherland, Daniel Holden, Colin Taylor and Cameron Sutherland.

Having to contend with the strength of the bigger clubs are Invergordon, who have a new-look list headed by their club captain Brian Ronald (ex-Thurso), and greenkeeper Gary Urquhart (ex-Golspie) with David McCormack, Robert MacAskill, David Clark, Paul Clark, John Fraser and Tommy MacLennaghan.

Steve Doogan is in charge of the Golspie squad that includes his teenage son Danny, club captain William MacBeath, club champion Colin Sutherland, Robbie Bremner, Alistair MacDougall, Chris Sommerville, Jamie Innes and Jamie Oliver.

Recognising the ever ageing members in the clubs and the diminishing desire to play 36 holes per day, among other factors, Doogan feels it is worthwhile looking at using two consecutive Saturday/Sundays for completing the fixtures. A worthwhile discussion at Brora?

The order of play at Brora – Saturday AM: Brora v Tain; Invergordon v Golspie. PM: Brora v Golspie; Invergordon v Dornoch. Sunday AM: Brora v Dornoch; Tain v Invergordon. PM: Brora v Invergordon; Tain v Golspie v Dornoch.

A weekend of team and mixed events

Last weekend Brora, Fortrose & Rosemarkie and Royal Dornoch golf clubs hosted full houses of golfers competing on the north's top links and providing a widespread list of prize-winners.

Royal Dornoch hosted the Burghfield team event on Saturday for the Dr John MacLeod Trophy and their top player, Carnegie Shield holder Chris Mailley, led his team of elder brother Paul and John Gow to a winning best-of-two nett score total of 149.

Plus-two handicapper Mailley led the way with a nett 73 against the CSS of 76. Brother Paul (10) added a nett 76 for the winning 149 and John Gow (14) was nett 81.

A visiting trio of clan Taylor, two from Peterculter, Ryan and Brian, and Colin Taylor from Dunbar, finishing in second place on 150, following two nett 75s from the Peterculter pair. Then the home trio of Alastair Stoddart, Scot Aitchison and Sandy Fraser finished third with 153 after a third team member card countback.

The locals’ two best cards were Aitchison’s nett 74 and Stoddart’s nett 79, while Fraser’s nett 79 ruled out the non-returned card from USA Dornoch members Kirk Stark, 75 (Poppy Hills), Adrian Easterbrook, 78 (Wee Burn), as Bill Easterbrook senior failed to return a card which dropped them down to fourth place.

The three other teams in the prize list were locals Kristain Sinclair, 75, Adam Mackay, 79, and Grant Mackay, 86, for a best-two total of 154. Then another home trio of Colin Chessor, Gordon J Sutherland and Alan Godfrey's two-score total of 155 on a better third card from Philip Lynch (Royal Curragh), Alan Greenhalgh (Walton Heath) and Pat Reid (Royal Curragh), also 155.

The following day at Dornoch in a single round walk-on open, Fortrose & Rosemarkie's Alan Cameron followed up his similar success at Tain in April with a gross 79 where again due to the wind and cold the CSS rose to 76. Scott Mackie (Hazlehead) returned to Aberdeen with a second-placed 78 and their were three gross 79s from Scott Walker (West Linton), Philip Robb (Peterculter) and Peter Kenpston (Mortonhall).

Dropping out of the scratch list was Kempston, whose nett 70 won section one, and Cameron Ross from Torvean won section two with the best-of-the-day nett 69 off 18.

Two of Cameron's clubmates from Fortrose were in winning action at Brora Golf Club in the Highland Office Equipment Texas Scramble on Sunday.

James Fraser and Morty Ross (F&R) combined with two Inverness Golf Club members, Ruari Benson and Callum Mackintosh, to forge a Texas Scramble winning card of gross 58, 12 under par and nett 54.7, to win the scramble competition over 32 other teams.

Second place in the scramble were four Nairn members, Craig Robb, Rory Fraser, Scott Fraser and Ian Henderson, who carded a gross 61 and nett 57.3. The local team of Alasdair MacDonald. Owen MacLennan, Scott Grant and John Griffiths were third with nett 57.4.

In fourth place were a trio of golf course greenkeepers, Darren Hexley (Muir of Ord), Chris Haspell (Coull Links) and Chris Mailley (Skibo Links), joined by Inverness vehicle sales manager Alan MacKenzie finishing in fourth place, gross 60, nett 57.3.

The Saturday format at Fortrose & Rosemarkie was a women's pairs better ball competition and on Sunday a mixed greensomes. Saturday’s scratch winners were the local pair of Lynne Fraser and Loraine Nixon with a better ball card of 82, with Tarbat Golf Club's Moira Gordon and Helen Gauld the same score but in second place on countback.

Third were the promising teenage Nairn sisters Katrina and Emily Tan with 83. Handicap winners were locals Annette McArthur and Joan Murphy nett 65.

The rarely played mixed format of greensomes golf on Sunday – where both players drive from each tee then choose the best ball to hole out with – was won by Invergordon's Steven Buchan partnering his mother Jane Borley (Inverness) with a scratch card of 74. The local head greenkeeper George Paterson partnered his wife Anna into second place with gross 77 and Inverness's Colin Harper and Jane Nicol were third with 78.

Robert and Aileen Smith (Nairn) were gross 78 and their nett 63 sped them to first handicap in section one, while Gary and Ilona Warburton (Inverness) won the second section with the same return.

Next week, commencing Wednesday, Brora Golf Club host the seniors Northern Counties Cup for a third time and with a very good chance of winning the B D Fraser Cup for a fourth time.

When Brora won on the two most recent occasions they held home advantage, in 2006 and 2012, following their first success in 2003 at Inverness The hosts are again including two team members from the winning years, Ronnie Sim and Robin Wilson.

Sim (75) and Wilson (74) for their farewell will again form a partnership but next week they are in the second team with Mike Mackintosh and Jimmy Murray, while the new Brora first team will comprise of Roddy Cameron and Tony Gill alongside Edinburgh-based members Norman Elliot and Charlie Tulloch.

The first team meet non-course-owning club Eriskay Whisky Galore, and team two can expect a stiffer encounter against Moray Golf Club whom Brora beat in the 2006 final.

Royal Dornoch have two teams entered, comprising club captain Rob Murray, David Pearson, Kenny Fraser, Jim Seatter, Derek MacDougall, Ian Thomson, Alan Ramsey and Ken Taylor. Their opponents will be Orkney Golf Club for their first-team choice and The Holders The Nairn for their second team.

Wick head greenkeeper Dougie Thorburn has been brought into the Brora selection on a Highland Club membership.
Wick head greenkeeper Dougie Thorburn has been brought into the Brora selection on a Highland Club membership.

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