The 2017 Argyll and Bute Matchplay Championship was held last weekend at Machrihanish. 16 of the Areas top players had gathered to try and wrestle the title away from defending champion Craig Pirie. Varying weather conditions greeted the players throughout the weekend with brilliant sunshine interpersed with a strong breeze from both East and West.
In the first round the main shock was the defending champion Craig Pirie being beaten by Andrew Wallace. The rest of the games were all close affairs with young Alastair Shaw pushing veteran Gordon Tyre all the way to the 19th hole.
The afternoon's quarter finals took place in an ever increasing south easterly breeze. Graham Bolton emerged from the first tie, sneaking through against local man George McMillan. Game 2 saw eventual winner David Lamont pipping Alan McKie at the last. The third quarter final saw former winner George Reynolds hold off Cowal's Chris Carson also at the final hole. The final game of the day saw Gordon Tyre defeat Andrew Wallace.
After the first day's play suprisingly the four remaining competitors were all over the age of 50. The first semi saw Bolton play Lamont. A closely fought affair for 12 holes until Lamont took charge and put Bolton to the sword 3&2. The second semi final was a marathon affair with some remarkable shot game skills allowing Reynolds to emerge the victor over Tyre after 21 holes.
The final took place shortly after with the players facing a stiffening North westerly wind and deteriorating waether conditions. George took an early lead with an early birdie at the first.David responded with a win at the fourth to square the game. With the rain now playing a part in the proceedings , the game became a dogged affair with George just keeping his nose in front. After 14 holes George was 1 up looking favourite to win 15th until David made a remarkable up and down to get a half. George at 16 had a chance to increase his lead with an opportunity from about 5 feet to go 2 up. It slid by giving David a life line, which he grasped after George's tee shot on 17 crossed the out of bounds line by some two inches. All square playing the last into the teeth of the wind and rain , both men after their tee shots had about 125 yards to the flag. David seized the advantage by drilling a seven iron to 20 feet after George had missed the green with his approach. George's pitch came up some 12 feet short and his putt failed to find the bottom of the cup , giving David an unlikley victory which was thoroughly deserved. Both players should be commended for their standard of play in atrocious conditions and for the manner in which the game was played.
The Area Executive would like to Machrihanish on again hosting the event and commend them on the condition of the course. The 2018 venue has still to be determined