Polly and I played the Eden course on 1 February 2010 on the first Monday after my retirement. The recent bad weather had prevented me for playing any new courses since Girvan on Boxing Day and our golf was pretty rusty after the long lay off. I'd also been celebrating my retirement for several days, so it was good to get back to the golf. However, I must mention a great Saturday night out with friends at Mariachi's Mexican Restaurant and Grill, rightly voted the best Mexican restaurant in Edinburgh List Food & Drink Guide 2009 (http://www.mariachi-restaurant.co.uk/). Don't miss it if you're in town! Great food, service and atmosphere.
We'd got up at 05.30 to get to St Andrews in time and it was bitterly cold, such that tees would not go into the ground and the greens and bunkers were frozen solid. Polly had barely swung a club in weeks, and looked even colder than me. Still I enjoyed the course, despite the conditions and unpredictable bounces, accentuated by the frozen ground. I bogeyed the first 4 holes, having had trouble keeping the ball on the green with approach shots. For example, a good drive at the 4th left me with a lob wedge to the green, up a steep bank. Wrong club selection, my effort bounced through the green into another gulley and only a good pitch into the bank saved the double bogey.
Best hole on the front 9 was the 9th, a 484 Par 5. This is a good view of the 9th green, with the old town in the background. By then, I could just about feel my hands again and had stopped shivering. I'd struggled out in 44, holing some impressive putts, but with the easing conditions, my golf improved. Indeed, I was only one over for the first 6 holes on the back 9. This is the lateral water hazard at the 15th, a challenging par 3, despite being stroke index 18.
However, I made the fatal mistake of looking at the scorecard on the 16th tee to see what was needed over the last 3 holes. The Eden is 5,869 yards long off the yellow tees with a Par of 70, so 3 more pars would give me a net 68. Not easy, but very possible. A 3 putt on the long Par 5 16th led to a Bogey, so 2 more pars and a net 69 would still be pretty good. The 17th is in my view the best hole on the course. Only 407 yards, par 4, dog leg right, out of bounds all the way down the right, 3 bunkers on the left to catch your drive. Having hit the driver straight all day, poor alignment and a slight fade took me AOB. A second drive over the 3 bunkers on the left, a 6 iron to the front of the green and a couple of putts. Double bogey would have been acceptable, but my second successive 3 putt was to follow, leaving me needing a par up the last for respectability. Another fade off the tee would be ideal, not the low draw that found the first left side bunker. Remember the frozen bunkers? The ball was right up against a steeply rivetted face. Only three feet high, should be easy enough, but 5 shots in the bunker, a wedge and 2 putts later and I've finished 6, 7, 9, for a gross 89, net 77. Course management at its worst and a poor finish to a good course.