An easing of Covid restrictions, a return to competition golf and the first qualifying round of the club handicap championships combined to paint a superb backdrop for a capacity field to front for Saturday’s stroke round at the Blue Lake Golf Club.
And no one was better with the paint brush than winner Tim Bates.
Tthe A grader took home the trophy with his round of 73-5-68.
Bates had a mixed palette of colours on his scorecard, opening with two straight bogeys but then adding some blue with his birdie on the third hole.
Unhappy with that combination, Bates then added some dreaded red, with a double bogey on the fourth halting his momentum slightly.
However, he added another couple of birdies to his opening 37.
Mirroring the opening holes, Bates made bogeys on the first two holes of the back nine but from then on it was unblemished golf—another birdie was recorded on the 13th before closing with five pars on his way to a one over the card
Stroke competition always ensures the better players bring their A game to the course and that was the case with the chasing pack, including Daniel Christian (73-4-69) and Bob White (78-8-70), who took the first two spots in their grade.
Christian’s intimate knowledge of the course was on show early, opening with birdies on the third and seventh holes.
However, the added incentive of a prize for long drive on the 18th appeared to prove a disincentive for Christian, tainting his fine round with a closing double bogey that cost him the overall win.
White’s round was more sedate as he churned out pars at will but was unable to convert any of his birdie attempts to have splits of 41 and
In a classic case of the turtle and the hare, veteran Colin Stratford knew that he did not have the length to match the big hitters, but he made up for that with superior course set up, making sure he hit fairways and that his approach shots were in making distance.
He was another who had a higher finish in his sights standing on the 18th tee block, but a wayward drive saw him walk off with a triple
His good round was enough to take out the B grade win and set him up for another tilt at the club championship.
With the flag set down on the lower level of the 17th, it was expected that it would reveal several eagles and while there were two eagles on the day none were on that hole.
Zach Westwick found the bottom of the cup, with his well-executed approach shot on the 13th being the icing on the cake on a run of eagle, par birdie over the middle part of the back nine to take third spot in A grade.
Steve Dwyer was the other player to make eagle after he saw his second shot on the dogleg 15th take a couple of hops on the green before falling into the cup.
Alan Stewart will be happy with his second place in B grade, riding the roller coaster of a round that would have seen lesser players chuck it in.
Walking off the ninth green two over his handicap would not have filled him with confidence, but two pars on his opening back nine holes saw him back in the game for a round of nett 72.
Brett Lewis also saw his round almost slip away after finding trouble on the 12th and 13th, but he regrouped as well to take third place in the grade.
While the course was not set up to the longest the C grade players still struggled to make an impact.
A player who always makes a positive impact no matter where he finishes, Kevin Mansell battled superbly to take the grade win with 104-31-73.
Mansell showed that golf is a marathon and not a sprint, bookending a disastrous opening hole with a great birdie on the ninth.
Mansell managed to hold off the fast-finishing Trevor Gartside who chased hard with one under over his last six holes.
Jacob Reed took third place in C grade with 98-23-75.
A good field of women golfers ventured out for their stroke round at the BLGC on Saturday but only two players managed to break triple figures—Rosemary Martland and Ronda Edwards with an 89 and 98 off the stick, respectively.
However, the win was taken out by club committee person Beryl Mahoney with her round of 107-32-75.
With her confidence high after a par on the second disaster was just around the corner, finding trouble on the third and fourth to almost derail her round.
Finding more trouble on the 11th, Mahoney did well to bounce back with a brace of pars on the 14th and 15th to finish with splits of 56 and 51 to take the win.
Courtney Lewis was another to find trouble early, struggling over the second, third and fourth holes that would have had many flying the white flag.
But showing strength of character Lewis responded bravely, her par on the 12th showing she has the ability to take her game to the next level.
Her perseverance was rewarded with second place.
Rounding out the place getters was Martland who could not quite overcome a rough start with 46 but kept her nerve to come in with 43 for a nett 78.
Martland picked up another prize for her accurate shot on the fifth winning the NTP award while Lewis took out the Longest Drive award.