Saturday, 17 April 2010

Barra Golf Club - course no 278

We'd arrived on Barra in time to see Phil Mickelson win the US Masters at Augusta and were delighted to mix with some locals, including some of "The Vatersay Boys" in a local bar. Those guys can really play (and drink!), so it was with some difficulty that we all mustered in time for an early start at Barra GC. It was also with some difficulty that we found the course, given the dense fog which was to persist for most of the morning. We found out after we'd finished the round that the club was awaiting delivery of some tee markers and scorecards and in the absence of such basics, our round over Barra was quite an experience. Visibility was about 100 yards, so Stu could find his ball easily enough most times (ouch! only joking, Stu) but we had no idea where we were going and I still have no mental picture of the course layout or hole distances. We found a white-painted stone a few yards from the Honesty Box (see above) and assumed that it must be the 1st tee, but it turned out to be the 8th. This is a view of the green, well protected from the many sheep that appeared to be our only company on the course. We then found another white stone, guessed the direction of play and eventually found the 9th green. More searching and we'd found the 7th hole. We'd taken woods and short irons at each of these holes so we assume that they were par 4's. I found an old score card in my bag from Torvean GC, so that had to do for record-keeping purposes. Amazingly, I had 4s at each of those holes. The fog cleared slightly and temporarily so we found holes 1-5 easily enough, with Craig's bright yellow trousers and my matching golf bag helping to keep us from getting completely lost. However, we came unstuck on the 6th (our last) hole. A sign on the fence surrounding the 5th green pointed us in the direction of the 6th tee, but with stones as the tee markers and the entire course built on rocky ground and the fog descending once again, we had to design our own last hole. We decided it should be a par 4 and having found our balls (within the 5 minute rule too!) we spotted a green which remarkably turned out to the the right one. Our scoring was pretty good, given the circumstances. We met the Club Captain after the round and asked him to post some score cards to us in due course, but lest I forget in the meantime, my scores in the proper order were 5, 6, 6, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, and 4, for a total of 42, with 16 putts (singles on holes 4 and 9).
Given the amount of climbing we did (necessarily or not!), we think that Barra is a hilly course with spectacular views (we always beware any course that advertises itself as having such views, as hills are inevitably involved!) The course was great fun to play despite the physical and visual challenges and the disorientating effect of the fog (or was it the previous night's partying?) The improvements needed were obvious and are all in hand so we look forward to playing this course again at some future point, with proper signage, a course map and score card. Our adventures on Barra weren't quite over, though. We thought we'd allowed ourselves ample time to play the course, but we'd not allowed for the fog or blethering to the greenkeeper and Club Captain afterwards, so it was bit of a shock to find that our ferry to Eriskay was leaving from Ard Mhor inside 10 minutes of us leaving the course. The fog cleared en route, but with single track roads and a slow car in front, we only just made it and where to find lunch was another mystery en route to Askernish. A long day lay ahead and we were in need of sustenance.

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