Sunday, 13 December 2009

Scoonie GC and Falkland GC course nos 239 and 240

I played these courses on 13 December 2009 on a cold, clear and windless day with a heavy frost lasting all day. By the time I got to the Forth Road Bridge there was dense freezing fog and it looked as though golf was pretty unlikely. I pressed on to Leven, where the fog cleared and to my amazement Scoonie was actually open, though with winter greens and frozen ground. This is a view across the course to the sea and the sunrise. It really was as cold as it looks!

Scoonie is on the main road to St Andrews and is another excellent course operated by Fife Council. It is 5133 yards off the yellow tees and a par 67. With winter greens in play, it was playing a bit shorter but the unpredictable bounces off the frozen ground made the course quite tricky. I birdied the short par 4 second hole and particularly liked the 5th and 6th on the front 9. Both of those holes run alarmingly close to the main road and care was needed to avoid a hook off those tees. This is the 5th, a 282 yard hole.

The back 9 is pretty good too, with greater variety to the holes. The 13th was totally bizarre and the shortest hole I've played in a long time. At 104 yards normally, a winter tee and temporary green had reduced it to 55 yards accordingly my state of the art laser range finder. I missed the tiny green and took 4 - though the extreme slope on the green didn't help. I thought the best hole on the course was the 15th, a 412 yard par 4, with a downhill dog leg second shot. I managed to get round in 78, net one under par. Although the normal greens were out of play, the surfaces looked really good and I really liked the layout and enjoyed the walk. The clubhouse was pretty basic, but very welcoming for all that and the hot soup and sausage rolls afterwards were a treat on a bitterly cold day. Scoonie is well worth playing and a real bargain at £10. There are many other courses to play, but I'd happily go back when thermals and a woolly hat could be left at home and the full course was at its best. Another good local course, unpretentiously nestling over the fence the more famous Leven GC.

Falkland Golf Club was simply great fun and one of the best 9 hole courses I've played in a long time. Being out in the countryside, it was even more frosty than Scoonie, but I was assured in the clubhouse that it never closed and yes, "it was perfectly playable."

I was also invited to choose whether to play to the greens or to the temporary ones nearby. One look at the frozen course and it was obvious that the responsible option was the temporary greens. I really liked Falkland, from the cosy and warm little clubhouse, the genuine welcome and interest in what we were doing to raise funds for cancer research, to the course itself. Any club that puts up fairy lights around the first tee at Christmas time deserves a visit.

The first hole turned out to be devilishly tight, with out of bounds tight on the left, and with all 5 of the members in the clubhouse looking on, I managed to hit the fairway, to a round of applause from my indoor audience. Needless to say on such a cold day, I'd the course to myself, as none of the members felt the need to be out there. I parred the first 3 holes and birdied the 4th. The second hole was odd as the wide fairway was shared with a full sized football pitch, complete with changing rooms and a small shelter. At 476 yards par 5 and stroke index 1, it was formidable indeed, but I did wonder how things were on match days. There was a notice politely asking footballers to avoid walking over the teeing ground and the footprints in the frost showed that golfers avoided walking on the pitch, but is golf suspended when the football is on? I wonder....

the photo above is a view of the 6th green - a lovely winter scene.
By the time I got to the 9th tee, I was still on par and headed for a pretty good score, even on a shortened course with temporary greens. A good straight drive later and I had 90 yards to go, except I'd forgotten about the sunken stream traversing the first and ninth. I nearly fell trying get my ball and took a 6, to finish the round in 2 over par. My first tee audience had gone home by now and the clubhouse was closed. A shame, since I wanted to tell them that I'd really enjoyed playing their lovely little course. I'll maybe go back sometime, hopefully avoiding the water on the 9th. This is a view up the last hole, with Falkland Palace in the distance.

I wandered around the old village for a while. Falkland Palace was closed, but it looked stunning in the frost and fading light and the narrow streets were deserted apart from the odd tourist lingering, like me, to enjoy the last of the day.

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