Thursday, 18 March 2010

Polkemmet Country Park - course no 265

I played this course on 18 March 2010 in a strong swirling wind that made scoring very difficult. Well, that's my excuse! I'd tried to play it earlier in the month, but it was still covered in snow, but the wait was certainly worthwhile. Polkemmet has a few simple holes, e.g. 1, 3 and 8, but the others are very demanding and would certainly not be out of place on a top parkland course. The course is 3247 yards, par 37 (only 1 par 3 hole) and played every yard of that, as there was absolutely no run on the fairways and the greens were slow and bumpy and still recovering from winter. After a gentle start, Polkemmet comes alive on the 4th hole, a 492 yard par 5 that runs parallel to the west carriageway of the M8. The green is dominated by "The Horn" a remarkably ugly piece of sculpture that will be familiar to M8 users. I'd expected the hole to be named after "The Horn", but West Lothian Council has gone for the even more elegant "Motorway." This is a very good hole and deserves better than that. Here's a view of the green and the aforementioned sculpture. Hideous.
I started this hole with a nearly new Titleist, but finished it with an old Top Flite, thanks to a couple of playful Spaniels, out for a walk with their master. One of the dogs lifted my ball in its mouth and after 5 minutes of being chased around around, finally dropped an old Top Flite. The dog obviously thought this was a great game, so I played the Top Flite, hoping that I could negotiate another swap further down the hole, but it was not to be. I managed a par, given that the dog is an outside agency.

The 5th hole is called "MSC" and I hesitate to speculate about what that has been taken to mean over the years. It could easily have been "my score collapsed" as the hole is 503 yards uphill, dogleg to the left, with a stream crossing the fairway, played directly into the wind, by now almost at gale force. However, I managed an excellent par, with a driver and 2 solidly hit 3 woods, a greenside chip and a single putt. This is a view from where my second shot finished. The next hole was Stroke Index 1, a tough 464 yard par 4. I missed a 3 foot putt for par, but given the lack of run on the fairways, this hole was almost a 5 anyway. The 7th was another long par 4 uphill into the wind. My second found the stream 50 yards short of the green and I ended up with a double bogey, but that stretch of 4 holes was really tough.

The 8th was an easy 255 yard par 4, leading to the only par 3, a teasing 119 yard hole over a deep gully, requiring an accurate drive. Here's the view from the tee. This was lovely little hole, finishing a course that was far better and certainly more demanding, than I'd expected. I played reasonably well and went round in 43, or 6 over par, but I really enjoyed this course.

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