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Gray gets off to a great start in bid for Thurso Winter Stableford title

By Ali Morrison

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After a hugely successful summer season at Thurso Golf Club, the winter fixtures are now in full swing.

The Winter Stableford is played over 10 rounds up until Christmas and each player counts his best four scores towards his total.

The first round was played on Saturday, October 10, and attracted a decent turnout of 35 golfers.

With the course playing much longer than recently, scoring was a bit higher with only four players managing to equal or break par.

In fourth place was Ronnie Gray with a creditable 36 points.

The foundation for Gray’s score was an excellent 20-point front nine. Sixteen points on the homeward stretch was good enough for fourth place.

Stephen Spargo’s 37 points took the bronze medal position.

Again, the score was built on the front nine with 20 points, including consecutive birdies at the seventh and eighth holes. Spargo’s 17-point back nine pipped Gray for third place.

In second place was the evergreen Jim Buchan. Jim has been playing golf at Thurso since the 1960s and has been, and continues to be, a fantastic ambassador for the club.

Even after all these years it is obvious that he is still very competitive, and this was reflected in his excellent score as halves of 20 and 18 points gave him his 38-point total.

The winner of the first round of the winter season was Darren Sinclair with a superb 41 points. A fine one-over-par front nine, including six pars and a birdie at the eighth, resulted in 22 points.

Despite a blip at the 11th hole, Sinclair still managed to break par on the back nine too with some very steady play yielding 19 points and a winning 41-point total.

Winter Stableford round one results: 1 Darren Sinclair, 41 points; 2 Jim Buchan, 38; 3 Stephen Spargo, 37; 4 Ronnie Gray, 36.

Round two followed on Saturday, October 17, with another decent turnout of 34 golfers.

Scoring was similar to the previous round with again only four players equal to or better than par

John Morrison took the fourth spot with 36 points, with two halves of 20 and 16 points.

Neil Reid was third, also with 36 points, but pipping Morrison by virtue of his 17-point back nine.

In the runner-up spot was the in-form Ronnie Gray, also on the 36-point mark. It is early days but Gray has made a great start in his bid to take the Winter Stableford title.

Callum Mauchlen achieved a hole in one in a Texas Scramble at Thurso.
Callum Mauchlen achieved a hole in one in a Texas Scramble at Thurso.

Gray bucked the current trend by scoring more points on the back nine than the opening nine, his two halves of 17 and 19 points being good enough to take second place and put him firmly at the top of the leader board at this early stage.

Gray also had the distinction of parring all five of the par threes, quite a rare feat, especially in the difficult conditions.

The winner of round two was Scott Mackay with 37 points. Mackay got off to a sizzling start, parring the first four holes for 12 Stableford points. Despite a blip at the eighth hole he reached the turn in 20 points.

The back nine was much more conservative, with several pars and bogeys giving up 17 points for a winning 37-point total.

Winter Stableford round two results: 1 Scott Mackay, 37 points; 2 Ronnie Gray, 36; 3 Neil Reid, 36; 4 John Morrison, 36.

Round three was played on Saturday, October 24, with a reduced field due to deteriorating weather.

The course is now getting a bit soft, with little or no run on most shots, but the greens continue to be in great condition.

Seventeen hardy souls set off in round three and, although there were some creditable performances, not one golfer managed to break par.

Davie Calder’s 32-point total, with two halves of 16 points, was good enough to take fourth place.

Playing partner Jim Farquhar went one better to take third place, his 33-point total coming from an even-par, 18-point front nine and 15 points on the back nine.

Jimmy Florence raced to the turn in only 41 strokes, racking up an impressive 21 points. A steady back nine followed, the only blemish coming at the last hole, giving Florence second place with his 35-point total.

Making yet another visit to the winner’s circle was Cameron Reid. Despite a poor start, with a double bogey six at the first hole, Reid covered the remainder of the front nine in one over par, resulting in 20 points at the turn. Sixteen points on the back nine produced a level par and winning total of 36 points.

Winter Stableford round three results: 1 Cameron Reid, 36 points; 2 Jimmy Florence, 35; 3 Jim Farquhar, 33; 4 Davie Calder, 32.

Some of the Thurso Golf Club members organised a Texas Scramble on Sunday as the weather was good and there was no official club competition scheduled.

It saw unquestionably the best shot played so far during the winter season as Callum Mauchlen holed his tee shot at the 186-yard, par-three third hole.

Using a hybrid club, his shot rose high in the air, bounced twice and nestled in the cup for his first hole in one – a great achievement.

This weekend’s fixtures – Saturday: Winter Stableford round four. Sunday: Winter Alliance at Royal Dornoch.

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