Thursday, 4 March 2010

Elmwood Golf Course - course no 257

I played this course on 4 March 2010 on the first really Spring like day we've had this year. Only one jumper and no hat! Elmwood is a pay as you play course and is linked to Elmwood College in nearby Cupar, which offers green keeping courses, with the students learning their trade over the course. This is the approach to the first hole, an interesting 353 yard par 4. My 8 iron second from a downhill lie was my first shank in many months and the return of an old fault (hopefully fixable!) as this, for me, is easily the most destructive shot in golf. I will say no more, lest I disturb the golfing demons.

Elmwood is 5697 yards off the yellow tees and a par 70. I'd expected a parkland course, but Elmwood is largely sandy based and plays almost like a links course. I thought the best hole on the front 9 was the 4th, a 127 yard par 3 with deep bunkering and water to the right and behind the green. My tee shot found the front bunker, but with the sand still frozen, my second shot skimmed out, over the green, into a lateral water hazard. My fourth was pretty good but I had to laugh when a passing cyclist shouted the somewhat ambitious "get in the hole!" He's obviously not seen me play, but I appreciated the thought, making the double bogey more palatable.

The course had obviously suffered over the Winter and needed some warm sun (don't we all!) but the greens were pretty true. I also liked the sensible positioning of the holes, tucked away in corners to save the greens, but boy, how the putting suffered. The surfaces were good, but my 35 putts was way more than my normal 31-32 average. I three-putted three times, which is really poor by any standards. This is a view of the 10th, with the hole tucked away back left.

My most enjoyable hole was the 11th, a 290 yard uphill par 4. My drive easily cleared the fairway bunkering, leaving me an 8 iron to the hole. As anyone who has ever sh----ed a ball, the temptation is to try something (anything!) different, whilst desperately trying to avoid a repeat. I'd caught up a couple of ladies by the 11th, who were clearly intent on letting me play though, so I had an audience. Great, just what I didn't need! It was therefore something of a surprise that the ball flew straight for the hole and quickly dug in, leaving me a 15 foot uphill putt. I missed, but at least I'd played the hole reasonably well. The ladies stopped to let me play through on the 14th, probably the best hole on the course, a 174 yard par 3 over a stream. I'd wanted to play a 3 or 4 iron, to test my swing, but unfortunately the ladies had chosen to sit on a wall 30 yards to the right of the tee. Rather than risk the sh---, I played safe with the trusty 7 wood and managed a bogey. Not bad, but a good hole that I should have photographed.
Although there was no real rough to speak of, Elmwood still had a sting in its tail. The 17th and 18th are both over 400 yards, but are played over deep gulleys that I certainly couldn't clear. A couple of bogeys was the best I could do, so I'd gone round in 88, net 76, well adrift of an acceptable score on such a benign day. I enjoyed the course despite the poor play. Elmwood is certainly worth the effort to play it, but if I do visit it again, I'd hope to play a bit better.
I'd planned to play Cupar in the afternoon, expecting a short and flat 9 holes. Wrong! One look at the precipitous slopes of a course that started 100 feet above the town cemetery (the access road cutting right through it) and appeared to climb for a good few hundred feet thereafter was enough to convince me that this was not a course to be trifled with after a dodgy 18 holes at Elmwood. Wisely, I left Cupar to be played another day.

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