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Wick Golf Club club championships are closely contested

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Back row (from left): Alan Farquhar, senior strokeplay champion; Alan Forbes, scratch strokeplay champion; Mark Mackay, handicap strokeplay champion. Front: Peter Taylor, senior club champion; Gordie Steven, club champion; Graeme Mackay, handicap club champion.
Back row (from left): Alan Farquhar, senior strokeplay champion; Alan Forbes, scratch strokeplay champion; Mark Mackay, handicap strokeplay champion. Front: Peter Taylor, senior club champion; Gordie Steven, club champion; Graeme Mackay, handicap club champion.

Wick Golf Club's senior, scratch and club championships were closely contested and played in a spirit that all could be proud of.

This year saw the club's seniors playing for their own club championship over the Reiss links.

After playing the three qualifying strokeplay rounds the top eight qualifiers with the best two-round totals were Alan Farquhar (136), Tom Tasker (139), Ian Thomson (141), Keith Dougan (143), Clair Falconer (145), Rob Sutherland (147), Graham Hay (148) and Ali McDonald (148).

Narrowly missing out was Peter Taylor, also on 148, but as Alan Farquhar had also qualified for the club handicap play-offs, and chose to continue in that group, Taylor was promoted to the senior matchplay.

The quarter-finals saw some hard-fought games.

Ali MacDonald had a good win over Ian Thomson to set up a semi-final tussle with his long-time playing adversary Keith Dougan who had got the best of Graham Hay. The other semi was also to be a battle between a usual Sunday pairing of Clair Falconer, who ended Rob Sutherland's hopes, and Peter Taylor, after he beat top qualifier Tom Tasker.

The handicap strokeplay qualifiers were also closely run with Mark Mackay taking the top spot on 133. Newcomer Jack Duncan continued his fine play to take second place with 134.

Alan Farquhar was third with 136, followed closely by George Sutherland on 137 and Seb Sandecki on 138 along with another recent recruit to the golfing world, Danny Mackay, also on 138.

Liam Mackay and Graeme Mackay filled the final two spots with 139s.

So the battle pairings were set with brothers Mark and Graeme Mackay meeting in the first quarter-final, with Graeme taking the win. Another usual pairing were pitted against each other with George Sutherland and Seb Sandecki going head to head and Seb landing the second semi-final place.

The third match saw Jack Duncan playing Liam Mackay, with Jack winning a close match. It was a delight to watch these two battle it out in their first proper matchplay and bodes well for the future of golf in Caithness.

The remaining quarter-final had a distinctive Wick Academy feel with Danny Mackay managing the win over Alan Farquhar (the older one).

Scratch, as always, was hotly contested with the top spot going to Alan Forbes on 139 followed by Nicky Klimas (140), Alan Larnach (142), James Howden (147), Michael McAllan (150), Gordie Steven (152) and Christopher Taylor (155), with Aly Mackay taking the last spot on 157 on countback from Ian Thomson.

In the quarter-finals on-form Alan Forbes won against Aly Mackay and Nicky Klimas defeated Christopher Taylor. In a repeat of last year's handicap final James Howden managed to get the win over Michael McAllan, while Gordie Steven's return to form saw him edge out Alan Larnach.

So the stage was set for the semi-finals, played on July 21. However, the Saturday prior to that, Nicky Klimas laid down the challenge when he played in the sweep, winning the money with 40 points in some pretty tough conditions, pipping Ross McAdie on the better inward nine.

His round was remarkable as he had an albatross on the 507-yard eighth, which was playing every inch of its length with a strong crosswind, and his second shot, witnessed by Mike Steven and David Nicolson, who were on the ninth tee, from 227 yards out with a hybrid took two bounces at the front of the green then rolled up and straight into the hole.

He continued his fine play the next day in the Glennie Medal when he won scratch with a 70, narrowly beating James Howden who returned a 71.

On to the Tuesday night and semi-final play. To say it was a miserable night weather-wise would be an understatement, wavering between light drizzle and heavy drizzle, and pretty cool with it.

First out were Keith Dougan and Ali McDonald, with Dougan taking the honours. Graeme Mackay got the win over Seb Sandecki and Jack Duncan held his nerve to get the better of Danny Mackay.

Peter Taylor continued his winning run, although Clair Falconer took him to the second extra hole before giving in.

The scratch section teed off last and Gordie Steven ended Nicky Klimas's fine run, while Alan Forbes eventually saw off James Howden – although the captain did have to go out and look for them, as there were concerns that they had managed to get lost in the gloomy conditions!

Friday night was at least dry, although there was a cool wind blowing. The course was scattered with socially distanced onlookers and the players were eager to get out there.

First off was the senior match between Keith Dougan and Peter Taylor. Dougan took first blood, winning the opening hole, but was quickly reined in as Taylor won the second.

There were halves on the third and Dougan won the fourth with a solid par, but wins on fifth and sixth saw Taylor go one up. Dougan won the seventh to go back to all square.

Taylor's bogey at the eighth was enough for him to go one up again. The short but tricky par-three ninth saw both players in a bit of trouble but Dougan took the hole to end the front nine all square.

Gordie Steven at the 12th at Wick on his way to victory.
Gordie Steven at the 12th at Wick on his way to victory.

Taylor won the 10th with a great par followed by another par on the 11th for two up. A birdie on the 12th saw him three up, and although they halved the 13th and 14th Dougan was unable to get back into the game and Taylor won the 15th in par to end the match 4 & 3.

Next out were the handicap contenders of Graeme Mackay and Jack Duncan. Mackay had won this championship before, while Duncan was playing in his first and in his first season at the tender age of 19.

Mackay set off at a cracking pace, winning the first and second with pars, but Duncan came back at him on the third with a par to win the hole. The fourth was holed in par and the fifth saw Mackay go two up again with another par – but Duncan wasn't letting him get too far ahead and took it back on the sixth with a par.

The seventh and eighth were halved in pars and the ninth in bogey, so it was into the turn with the youngster trailing by one. Graeme plays off 11 handicap and Jack off 12 so for them to shoot 38 and 40 was impressive golf.

The 10th and 11th were halved in bogeys and Mackay conceded the 12th to let the match go back to all square. However, a fine birdie on the 13th saw him get his nose in front again and he stayed there through the 14th halved in pars.

He nudged another one ahead, winning the 15th. But Duncan came straight back at him, taking the 16th and the 17th to level the match going down the last, and sank a 15ft putt on the 18th to match Mackay's par and force him back down the first.

Nervous pars at the first meant down the second, and although Mackay could manage only a bogey it was enough to win the match with Duncan taking a five after an uncharacteristically poor chip shot.

The final pairing of Alan Forbes and Gordie Steven set off at 6pm. Forbes took the first hole with a fine par but Steven won the second.

Third was halved in par, as was the fourth, and the fifth halved in bogey, but six, seven, eight and nine were all halved in pars.

There was nothing to separate these two and it was all square at the turn. Forbes went one down to Steven on the 10th and halved the 11th in par but a solid birdie on the 12th saw them back level again. Steven won the 13th with a birdie and neither of them managed to sink their birdie putts on the 14th, so still one up to Gordie.

He then went on to win the 15th with a par to go two up and neither could shake the other with pars on 16. Alan's putt on the 17th didn't drop to win the hole so Gordie was the club champion for 2020 with a 2 & 1 victory.

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