Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Jean Russell (89) wins Tain women's handicap 



It is a season of octogenarian champions in Ross-shire golf clubs this summer when Fortrose and Rosemarkie's handicap champion Morris Brown (83) was joined, then beaten on age, by Tain's Jean Russell when the Tain club championships ended last Saturday with a notable mother and daughter family double. 

In a repeat of last year's women's championship between sisters Mary Smith and Anne Ryan, Mary retained her title and then both joined in the cheering when their mother Jean Russell captured the ladies' handicap championship trophy for a third time at the marvellous age of 89! 

Jean, pictured above with daughter Mary Smith. will celebrate her ninetieth birthday in three months but still holds a handicap of 26. Now continuing to play with the help of a golf buggy, she surprised herself by even qualifying for the match-play finals where she met and the beat the Tain lady club captain, Audrey Duncan after 13 holes.
 “I play two or three times a week and practise every day on my large back garden lawn. I don't expect to play well every day so I just take what comes along on the course," said Mrs Russell who first won the Conon Handicap Trophy forty years ago (1978), then again in 2005.  A life time member at Tain the golf club honoured her with the office of vice-president this year. , 

Mary has two more of a family: Maggie Vass, current Tain club secretary, a position once filled by her mother's late husband, Willie Russell, and a son, Jimmy, who plays his golf on Aberdeen's Murcar Links. Jean also has six grandchildren and two great grandchildren, all with golfing genes. 
With Mary and Anne in the ladies scratch final. the family involvement in the finals totalled four when her son-in-law, David Vass, featured in the men's handicap final.

The Tain men's scratch championship was won for a second time by last season's four-day tournament winner, Lyle McAlpine (24). He beat a first-time finalist and promising teenager Sean Kennedy (19) on the 17th green. 
The women's final was for a second year between the sisters with the eldest sister Mary retaining her title.

Kennedy was very impressive in his first final and after the summer will head across the bridge to Dornoch to begin a four-year course in golf management in the UHI Dornoch campus where he will learn that one short missed put does not lose a match. 
But it was game changing. He lost his one-hole lead at the 10th hole. McAlpine then went ahead, winning the next for a lead he never surrendered. 

A birdie 2 from ten feet on the par three 16th green gave McAlpine the dormie lead and when finding the 17th green first saw Kennedy came up short on the sloppy bank to the right of the green. The youngster skinned his recovery pitch through the green and conceded a 3 and 1 defeat.   
Meanwhile the Smith and Ryan final drew to a close on the same hole. From a third shot at the fast running 13th fairway Smith could not hold the par five 13th green and her lead cut back to one hole.

But she won the next par five with birdie 4 to restore a two-hole lead before exchanging the next two holes to proceed to the 17th tee dormie two in front. She retained her title on the 17th green by 2 and 1.     

At 22, Fraser Oman was also making a final début in the handicap section, meeting a much older David Vass (61) who had to concede two strokes. They exchanged six of the first ten holes, Oman winning the 2nd, 3rd with stroke, and fourth then Vass recovering to all square by winning the 7th, 9th and tenth holes.
The fourth Russell family member and former twice scratch champion bunkered his second to the fourteenth green to go behind again and the next two holes were halved. Vass missed the seventeenth green from the tee and his recovery pitch was too strong to lose the hole and the tie to Oman by 2 and 1.

At a much further end of the age scale the picture looks very bright for Tain Golf Club when thirteen year Iona Ferries met and beat 12 year old Max MacAngus in the junior handicap final and in the scratch final two 17 year old teens met, Scott Macdougall and Paddy Murray, with Scott coming out on top. 

Invergordon championships

On his way to his first ever Invergordon Club Championship Ally McDonald beat the defending champion Derek Baker and multiple winner, Steve Buchan. 

Baker in his first final last year halted what would have been a four year tenure-ship of the championship by Buchan, but MacDonald (pictured right), aiming to become a first time champion, got the better of the holder in the semi final by 3 and 2.  

Buchan won through to the final once again but quickly found himself three down through seven  from some superb golf from MacDonald, who only lost the 10th hole. 
His birdie on the 15th put him back in the driving seat to emerge as the club's oldest champion a hole later. A well deserved win admitted the loser, “I was one under par for the sixteen holes I played”.

Invergordon now have a left-handed golf champion. Daniel Cormack beat Ken Kennedy after 16 holes of the handicap championship final. The losing semi finalists were Neil Bension and Greig Stefaniak. 



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