Saturday, 17 April 2010

Askernish Golf Course - course no 279

We'd only just made it to the Sound of Barra ferry, but the rest of the travelling on 12 April 2010 was by road and causeway and with Askernish and Benbecula to play, we needed lunch. We found a petrol station and chip shop (surely a rare combination!) near to Askernish, but the shop was closed. Thankfully, there was a visiting party of students from Elmwood College at the Askernish course, so we were able to polish off the remaining soup and sandwiches from their lunch. Our thanks must also go to Ralph Thompson at Askernish for allowing us to play the course before it had opened for the season and for his other help to ensure we had an enjoyable round. Askernish is of course already famous as a rediscovered Old Tom Morris course and seems set to become even more respected as golfers like us experience its outstanding qualities and encourage others to play it. At 6164 yards par 72, Askernish is not overly long, but the holes are well spread out over the dunes, so the course was very demanding physically. We all agreed that Askernish was a superb layout, with all sorts of lies, requiring expert shot making and a modicum of luck to achieve a respectable score, hence my gross 98! Askernish also poses some other questions, as we discovered on the magnificent 7th, the 438 yard par 4 Stroke Index 1 hole. My drive was pretty good but with one bounce went straight down a rabbit burrow. Thanks to Craig for retrieving it with his driver. Here's the intrepid Craig in action, with Stu offering moral (I think!) support.

My own favourite hole was the 191 yard 11th, an outstanding par 3. The green is hidden from the tee, with only the top of the flag being visible. accordingly a hollow in front and to the left of the green is also hidden, as is the run off at the back of the green, shown here, meaning that anything seriously long risks being on the beach. My 7 wood was 10 yards short of the green and I ended up with a 5. Craig found the green with a superb 6 iron and got his 3 - impressive stuff! I think Stu also had a 5, but what a hole! Even in the almost windless conditions, the 11th typified the difficulty of this course, so goodness knows what Askernish is like in the windy conditions that are more typical of our many links courses.
Askernish is already a supreme test, is every bit as good as I'd expected and will in time mature into a very fine course. My only reservation about the layout was the 18th, a 509 yard par 5. The definition of the fairway was poor, as this view from the tee shows. The line proved to be over a half hidden white cow, but a marker pole would have helped. Better still, a fence to keep the cows off the course would have allowed easier presentation of this otherwise strong finish to the course. However, I don't want that comment to sound too negative, since we all really enjoyed playing this excellent course. This was my 48th game of golf in 2010, so I'd built up a good fitness level beforehand. Even so, I was glad of a brief rest afterwards before moving on to play Benbecula, our third course of the day.

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