Jeremy Matte, director of golf, Castle Stuart Golf Links
The Rio Olympics provided a host of outstanding sporting memories, with Team GB surpassing even their most ambitious targets.
There was no shortage of heroes or stories of phenomenal achievement from the likes of Andy Murray, Max Whitlock, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny.
But my personal favourite tale of an incredible and unexpected feat came from Graham Nicholson, from Tomatin Distillery, who posted a personal best 43 Stableford points on his way to picking up the annual Castle Stuart Cardholders’ Quaich.
The best victories are those that come from people overcoming adversity. In Graham’s case it was his commendable fightback from the tragedy of scoring a total of 9 points last year. Yes, 9 points. Over 18 holes.
This year, however, Graham racked up 18 points on the front nine, then his inspired performance really took off, with a 2 (net 1) on the Par3 11th and a 5 (net 3) on the 12th on his way to an impressive 25 points on the back nine. Surely the news has now reached Darren Clarke in Ryder Cup year.
Graham was pushed all the way by the superb play of Calum Macleod, from Barchester, who managed a fantastic 42 points, which was highlighted by a birdie, net eagle, on the tough 17th hole.
As Rose, Stenson et al battled heat and humidity at Reserva de Marapendi in Barra da Tijuca, the Quaich competitors fought equally difficult conditions, with occasional sunny spells and a wind that was whipping up into a light breeze over the Moray Firth.
The Olympic competition was of added interest to our players, not just because Castle Stuart co-designer Gil Hanse was the man who created the course for the first Olympic golf event in 112 years.
Each of the 31 cardholders was paired with an Olympian for the day and their 18 hole Stableford score was combined with the Stableford score of a random player in the final round of the Olympic event. They were then able to track the scores of their nearest rivals, and those in Rio, using live scoring software provided by Castle Stuart and the Golf Genius app.
Graham and his ‘partner’, Wa Ashun of China, totalled 82 points and a massive 45-point tally on the back nine – resulting in a gold medal based on a better inward half – just pipping Calum and Jeung-Hun Wang of South Korea.
It was a fantastic day and the new twist we added this year with the Olympic theme and pairings worked well. It may be something we look to build on for next year’s event – feedback welcome.
A massive thank you from all of us for your participation, and your continued support of all things Castle Stuart Golf Links