RAY FORD and Paul Strettle secured a narrow victory in the John McDonald Trophy at Helensburgh Golf Club at the weekend.

The contest is one of the tournaments in the club’s calendar which always brings out a strong field and the uncharacteristic hot weather ensured this year was no exception.

The competition is named after a popular former member at Helensburgh who tragically died on the course some years ago, and always attracts a large field of players keen to remember their former clubmate.

The format is a better ball fourball, and that, along with the dry conditions, ensured low scoring; it took a net 63 to secure the trophy for winners Ford and Strettle, who just pipped, by one shot, the teams of Ray Smith and Steven Court, and Craig Stirling and Stuart Buchanan, in joint second place.

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The competition was the latest event in a new season which is now well under way at Helensburgh, with the new year’s competitions having begun – appropriately on the weekend of a major naval exercise on the Clyde – with an RNLI Scramble competition.

The sunny weather produced a good turnout for the tournament, with 116 players in teams of four all trying to find their form after the long winter layoff.

The winning team had the benefit of both youth and experience – former Royal Navy man David Tolhurst provided the experience as well as a number of shots for the team, based on his higher handicap.

Young Jack Armstrong is at the other end of the age spectrum but all four members of the team contributed as David, Jack, Phil Armstrong and Shey Donald returned an impressive score of 54.2 to win the RNLI Quaich.

Runners up were Paul Duerden, Jon Sturgeon, Michael Stephen, Rob Prideaux with 56.0, while the podium places were filled by Ian McKenna, A Rankin, David Hogg and Dougie Stewart with 56.3.

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The season-opening scramble was quickly followed by two medal competitions: the first of the monthly Breingan Medals was won by Ian Porter with a great net score of 64 playing off his handicap of 10.

Gordon English won the second class with a net score of 65, playing off 14, and past captain Don Macdonald was the winner of the third class.

The nine hole stableford medal was won by Stuart Buchanan with a score of 18 points, pipping the trio of Paul Duerdon, Stuart Graham, and ex local restauranteur Filippo Madonia by one point.