Thorburn helps Brora to Dornoch Firth League victory
Dougie Thorburn, the Wick Golf Club head greenkeeper who is also a member of Brora Golf Club through its Highland membership category, played his first representative game for Brora last weekend and helped his second club to a memorable 21st Dornoch Firth League success.
The four round-robin, seven-man scratch league involves Brora, Golspie, Invergordon, Tain and Royal Dornoch golf clubs and began in 1973 with Royal Dornoch as the first winners. For the next four years Brora won, a sequence that has never been matched, but through the next 47 years at rotating venues Brora lifted the Targe on 20 occasions with their memorable 21st win arriving last Sunday when they hosted this season's league matches.
Brora's course record holder and head greenkeeper James MacBeath has always led the team and Thorburn, who was a North District champion and district team player in 2014, was slotted in to play at number two for Brora's Saturdays opening match against Tain, the defending league champions. He won his opening game against Munro Ferries on the last green and Brora won the match 4½ to 2½.
Due to a family birthday party in Inverness, talisman MacBeath was not available for the afternoon match against Golspie from where Brora took a significant step to become overall winners. Thorburn was elevated to first place but was hit by a birdie on the last green by Golspie's team captain, Steve Doogan, for him to earn his club's only half-point. Brora won it 6½ to ½ – each player receives a point or half point for his club from the match result.
Brora's big test came on Sunday morning against Royal Dornoch and the Wick player returned to his second position in the line-up where he again played all 18 holes, emerging a one-hole winner over Kevin Matheson. Brora won the final three ties to win 4½ to 2½.
Brora's final match on Sunday afternoon was against Invergordon and Thorburn turned on the style with a 5&3 win over Tommy McLeneghan in a match win of 6-1 for the club's points total of 21½.
But the danger of being in being caught or overtaken by Dornoch remained as they were involved in the double matches against Golspie and Tain in the afternoon, especially after a Saturday whitewash 7-0 result over Invergordon and their 2½ points from Brora, giving them 9½ points with 14 points still up for grabs.
But in two shock results Dornoch only beat Tain 4½ -2½ and for the first time ever in the league were beaten 4-3 by Golspie for Dornoch to finish in second place with a 17 points. Brora's winning total was 21½ points, Tain 11½, Golspie 11 and Invergordon nine.