COVID-19 may have caused havoc for countless sports across South Australia when it took hold early last year, but golf was not one of them and Mount Gambier Golf Club member Craig Wirth took full advantage.
Having been stuck on a handicap of around 17 for a few years, Wirth took to the course at Attamurra on a regular basis when the lockdown was called.
It paid off, with his handicap coming down to as low as 10.
While it did not translate to any wins, that changed on Saturday when he took out the monthly medal with a score of nett 69.
Wirth teed off at 11am, just as the heavy rain the early morning players had to deal with began to subside.
On a day that saw just four players beat their handicaps, Wirth shot 80 off the stick from his 11 handicap to take the medal by a single shot from Joe Clements and Phil Bliss.
“I was very happy with the way I hit them,” Wirth said.
“I hit my irons very well, but I missed probably six to eight birdie putts from between 10 and 20 feet.
“Normally I’d make two or three of those.”
Wirth started well with pars on the first three holes, but came back to earth with double bogeys on the fourth and fifth after poor drives.
However, from then on he hardly put a foot wrong, playing his final 13 holes in just four over par.
The highlight was a birdie two on the par 3 eighth hole after hitting a nine-iron to just five feet.
That helped him shoot 40 off the stick on the front nine despite the two double bogeys and he matched that on the back nine to claim the medal and top honours in A Grade.
Clements took second spot from Bliss after the pair shot nett 70s.
Playing off a seven handicap, Clements had a respectable 40 off the stick on the front nine.
But birdies on the 11th, 12th and 15th holes helped him produce a quality 37 on the back to take second spot in A Grade from Bliss.
The only other player to beat his handicap on the day was Peter Miller, whose nett 70 saw him easily win B Grade by five strokes from Peppi Pace.
The C-Graders found the going particularly challenging, Kym Sykes taking the top prize on a count-back from Chris Gabriel after the pair shot nett 77s.
One player who deserved a special mention was Mitch Handford.
Playing off a seven handicap, he braved the terrible morning conditions, with one of the early starters describing his round as “the wettest I’ve ever been on a golf course”, to record a more-than respectable nett 73.
Saturday morning’s weather was in direct contrast to Thursday where 84 players contested the stableford competition.
In the end it was Graham Paterson who topped the leaderboard with 41 points.
Paterson, who also won back in March with an outstanding 44 points, was again one of just four players to beat their handicap.
Playing off an 18 handicap, he needed just 42 shots on the front nine, making the turn with 21 points already in the bag.
That was due in no small part to three-point pars on the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 8th holes.
He followed that with 43 on the back for another 20 points, a total that could have been even better had he not “wiped” the par 4 14th hole thanks to a triple-bogey seven.
Runner-up was five-handicapper Andrew Stark who shot an excellent 75 off the stick to finish with 38 points.
Stark parred the front nine for 19 points and while he birdied the 14th and 15th holes, five bogeys on the back nine cost him a shot at victory.