Bolton misses out on area matchplay title

ROTHESAY Golf Club’s Graham Bolton lost out in his bid to secure a seventh Argyll and Bute matchplay championship title at Machrihanish on Sunday after a titanic battle against the host club’s George MacMillan in the final.

Two up with two to play, Bolton was in the driving seat in the dazzling sunshine at the world-famous links, but MacMillan turned it around to level the match at the 18th and eventually snatched victory at the fourth extra hole.

Bolton’s Rothesay clubmate, 2009 winner George Reynolds, lost out to MacMillan at the semi-final stage, while Millport’s Les Pirie was the other losing semi-finalist.

At Bolton’s home club, assistant greenkeeper Shaun Kernaghan returned the lowest score of the day in Sunday’s April medal, when a net 61 won him the second class section by four shots from his nearest challenger, Tommy Kilpatrick.

Shaun’s 73 shots mean his handicap won’t stay at 12 for very long!

Mr Consistency, Michael Murty, yet again took the honours in the first class division with a net 64, playing off a handicap of five, while young Jack Mackirdy shot a fine net 65, off a handicap of six, to take second place - it is very encouraging to see some of the club’s younger members coming up through the ranks.

In the third class, Stevie ‘The Postman’ Maher delivered a net 66 to take the honours, though a countback was required to separate him from second-placed John McBride.

Those in Sunday’s field hoping for a windfall by scoring the only two of the day were left disappointed – no fewer than 12 twos were scored in the ideal playing conditions, including two eagles.

This weekend’s fixture list features the R.J. Anderson Trophy on Saturday and the Gordon McKinlay singles stableford on Sunday.

At Bute Golf Club last Saturday, a first-class performance by Jim McKirdy earned the Rothesay postman a second success in the early weeks of the season as he delivered a net 64 in the Belhaven Best national qualifying event.

Hard on the heels of his Peggy Adam Trophy victory at Port Bannatyne, the ever-improving seven-handicapper was one shot clear of Graham McArthur to finish leading scorer in the competition.

The winning form of McKirdy was underlined by two birdie threes at the 409-yard fourth/13th - the toughest hole on the course. He also beat par at the eighth on his way to the turn in 34, followed by a steady back-nine of 37 for 71, the best scratch score of the day - and, as handicap secretary of the club, later had the pleasure of cutting his own handicap to six.

McArthur (8) returned a solid round of 73 for a net 65 and runner-up spot in first class. Robert McKirdy (5) and David Bryden (8) were joint third on 67.

Stevie Neilson reigned supreme in the second class for the second successive week, this time with a net 66; the highlight of the day for the 22-handicapper was an impressive birdie two at the third.

John Bunyan (22) and Alastair McFarlane (13) were also among the leaders again, with both on net 67.

The competition scratch score was 66.

A busy Easter weekend at the Kingarth club begins with the annual RNLI medal competition on Saturday, and continues with the Easter medal on Monday.

Finally this week, two net 63s were the best scores of the day in the Hector Linden Qualifier at Port Bannatyne – but the round of the day was unquestionably that of Jimmy Gordon.

Aged over 80 and recovering from broken ribs which mean he is limited to carrying a bag not much bigger than a pencil case, holding only a driver, three wood, five wood, seven iron, pitching wedge and a putter, he proceeded to go round the course in 86 blows - which, less his handicap of 20, placed him only three shots behind the leaders. Maybe he has found the answer everyone is searching for!

The best net score of the day, by virtue of the better inward half, was carded by Bobby Pedder, but he is unable to compete in the knockout stages of the competition, which left Brian MacKillop’s net 63 the top qualifying score.

Next came the net 64 of Graham Dunn, ahead of John Marshall with net 65 and Ian Shaw on net 66.

MacKillop plays Shaw and Dunn faces Marshall in the knockout stages, with the ties to be completed by May 9.

Twos were scored by Taff Barnsley at the tenth and by Graham Fisher at the 16th; the CSS was 65.

This Saturday, April 23, is the Spring Handicap, while on Sunday the Port’s Firth of Clyde League team begin their campaign in the revamped competition with a match away to Gourock. A sweep medal has been organised for the remaining members.