Craig, Stu and I played this absolutely excellent course on 15 February 2010. Considering that some of the courses I'd played recently had been using temporary greens, it was a relief to get back to proper golf, on a full course in such great condition. The Fidra course is 6560 yards, par 72 off the blue tees, which I played (Craig played the black tiger tees and Stu played the white tees, somewhat shorter than the blues). I'd been playing reasonably well recently on courses in much poorer condition than Fidra, so I was really looking forward to seeing how my form would hold up. Overall, not bad, as I went out in 43 and a 5 at the 395 yard par 4 15th would have given me a respectable 87, or 3 over net par. Sadly, my course management let me down, yet again. The middle 6 holes had been played in pretty persistent rain, such that the grip of my driver was soaking wet and even an all-weather glove didn't do much to inspire confidence off the tee. The final straw was a duck hook off the 15th tee, into some wet clinging rough. The lie was not too bad, so my trusty 7 wood seemed a sensible club selection. Wrong! Had I accepted my punishment and taken the wedge, I might have escaped with a 6. I ended up with a 10, so my score ended up as a 92, net 80. I'd hoped that this photo would also show the score, but you'll need to take my word for it!
We all agreed that Fidra was an excellent course and a really stiff test of our abilities. The rain didn't help, but such is the quality of the course that we didn't really mind. We'd played Archerfield's Dirleton course in November 2009, but despite considerable debate over a pint afterwards, we couldn't really decide which was best. Of the two, I think that Fidra is more linksy in nature and is marginally my favourite, although some design quirks that took me by surprise. For example, I thought that the manicured waste areas on the 6th and 12th holes, despite their plantations of coastal maram grass, were a bit out of character for a Scottish links links course. And although the upturned saucer greens provided some tricky run off areas e.g. the 9th, I thought that that design feature was perhaps a wee bit overdone. However, I don't want to sound too critical as overall, this was a really excellent course.
Despite my reservations over the waste area to the right of the green, I thought that the best hole on the outward 9 was the 6th, a 467 yard par 5. I managed my par, but the best shot on that hole was Craig's impressive recovery from a fairway bunker. I doubt I could have got myself into that stance but who cares, that particular bunker didn't really come into play for me - my drive finished 20 yards or more behind this bunker! My favourite hole on the course was the 11th, a 471 yard par 5. I'd pushed the tee shot short and right due to my hands slipping on a wet grip, but a good 7 wood recovery over some high Scots pines left me with a wedge to the green, which unfortunately trickled back off the green into a pot bunker. A bogey followed, but what a really pretty hole.
Below is the 17th green, a formidable 189 yard par 3. The last hole on Fidra is an absolute gem. At 563 yards for Craig, it looked well beyond my meagre ability and I was grateful that it was only 518 yards from the blue tee. Even so, I took 7 rather than the 5 I'd been hoping for to restore some respectability to my round after the debacle on 15. However, it was not to be. Perhaps another time, because this is a course that I would love to play again (and again!)