Aigas Golf Course is primarily a pay as you play 9 hole course that forms part of a country estate with holiday cottages etc. near Beauly. The course had been developed in 1993 as a land management diversification project and is now a quality and profitable commercial development within the Mains of Aigas estate. We'd not been sure what to expect at Aigas. We'd heard that the course was a "hidden gem" but we're always wary on that over-used phrase, which more often than not indicates a marketing strategy rather than an objective assessment of course quality. However, Aigas really was a lovely little course, nestling on a valley floor between a forest and the River Beauly. This is a view from the 1st tee, somewhat unusually at the highest point on the course. The 1st was a 515 yards downhill par 5, so with the whole of the course to aim at going left wasn't the clever option. I just about stayed on the course, but since the hole developed into a dog leg left, a dodgy double bogey followed. A 139 yard par 3 followed, with the tee shot having to clear a wall in front of the green and stop pretty quickly before the out of bounds fence. An impressive 7 iron, pin high to 20 feet and a couple of good putts and I'd parred the hole, much to Stu's surprise, who I suspect had predicted another sh--- (see my Ullapool and Stornoway blog entries in particular!). I did hit a few dodgy shots, but I wasn't going to let that spoil such a good course.
Here's the 6th hole, a 323 yard par 4 dog leg right, with the river along the full length of the hole. I played safely out to the left, found the front of the green with an easy 7 wood (well, my ball was pretty new and with the river so close, it was the conservative shot). An easy 4 followed, but this was a dangerous hole. I can't remember what the other guys scored, but Craig did hit an old practice ball (not his ball in play) to just short of the green - a great shot. however, we're still not sure where young Craig's ball went on this, the 9th hole. To be fair, the small clubhouse is well within range off the tee (as was my car, parked behind the clubhouse!). Craig's 3-wood soared away in the general direction of the clubhouse. The somewhat metallic dull thud which followed was not reassuring so it was with some relief that we found no damage in the car park. We didn't find the ball either, but we concluded that the ball may have hit the clubhouse roof. I scrambled a final hole par for a 42, which was 9 over the course par of 33. Not impressive, but Aigas was a fittingly enjoyable end to our West Highlands and Western Isles trip. We'd played 11 good courses in 5 days, enjoyed each other's company and had a great laugh. I was only £2 down on our 3 putt challenge over the trip (a 50p penalty for each 3 putt, the penalty to be cancelled out by a birdie scored on the same day as the 3 putt). Some of the shots I'd played were poor, but many others were either very lucky, imaginative or skilfully played. We'd enjoyed the golf and we'd raised some further cash for our charity, so a successful trip all round!
As a final postscript to the trip itself, my 9 iron has been successfully repaired by Jim Affleck, a local club maker, with his £10 fee being added to the Justgiving website. Thanks Jim!