I played this 9-hole course on the afternoon of 18 February 2010. Portobello lies a couple of miles to the east of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and is 2210 yards, par 32 off the yellow tees. It is owned and operated by the City of Edinburgh Council and is a fine little course, made all the better by its excellent and friendly Starter, Johan. As I mentioned in my 25 November 2009 entry, Johan had also played the only course in Sweden that I'd played. It's a small world. I also met another equally friendly council official whose job appeared to be checking that I'd paid my green fee. He'd a tricky job, I guess, but I did wonder whether I looked so shifty that he approached me on the first hole. I was just glad I'd managed a good opening drive, lest he also mark me down for ability!
Given the slight frost earlier in the day, I was pleased that the full course was in play and that the greens were pretty good. Indeed, the course as a whole was in very good condition, with well-raked bunkers and some really good holes. This is the 8th , a 320 yard downhill par 4. I managed a par there, just missing the 30 foot birdie putt. I'd missed a far easier chance on the 7th, having been waived through by a father playing with his 3 young sons. As any golfer will know, being waived through can be a mixed blessing, fraught with hazards. The occasional frustration of playing behind someone slower is relieved, but is replaced by the pressure of having to hit the tee shot before an expectant gallery. Indeed, there is little more embarrassing in golf than being let through only to duff the tee shot, or worse still, lose it, with those who had been kind enough to let you through questioning their wisdom (and your ability). The 7th is 160 yards uphill, played into a low winter sun. I took my 7 wood, swung easily and hoped for the best, since the low sun meant I had no idea where it went. The swing felt OK, but it was only the welcoming cry of "good shot" from the father that led me to hope that the ball lying 10 feet to the right of the flag might be mine. Thankfully it was, but the rushed putt missed narrowly. Perhaps that was just as well though, since I suspect that it is equally poor etiquette to birdie a hole when let through, and risk the golfing gods ensuring that your next teeshot is a shank!
The best hole at Portobello is the last, an outstanding par 3 of 193 yards fit to grace many a nobler track, as shown here. The green is long and narrow and is surrounded by 4 deep bunkers. My 7 wood finished just short of the front right bunker and a (rare!) good lob wedge was needed. Sadly, I just missed the 15 foot putt. I'd gone round in 37, not bad at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed my round at Portobello. Craig and Stu are in for a treat.