Friday, 16 April 2010

Dalmally Golf Club - course no 274

This is the first course that Craig, Stu and I played on a Highlands and Western Isles trip between 11-15 April 2010. The plan was to leave Edinburgh early on the 11th, play Dalmally and Taynuilt, get the ferry to Barra, play the Barra course, get the ferry over to South Uist, play Askernish, drive up to Benbecula and play there, drive on to play Solles in North Uist, get another ferry to Harris to play the course at Scarista, then drive up to play at Stornoway, get the ferry to Ullapool, play there and play Gairloch and Aigas before going home for a rest. Eleven courses in all, needing good weather, lots of energy and the occasional liquid refreshment (in moderation of course!). We left as planned so here I am at Dalmally, with a swing as bad as the club's logo, pretending to be loosening up. We pretty much had the course to ourselves, even after I'd taken a wrong turning and ended up in the driveway of the big house next door, much to the surprise of the owner!

Dalmally is a short 9 hole course of 2084 yards off the yellow tees with a par of 32, but it's not an easy trek, as I was soon to discover. In setting up our visit, the club had advised that we take particular care at the 3rd, a lovely 159 yard par 3 ominously named "Orchy Splash." Water was clearly involved, but this was a fabulous hole to play and bonnie to see, as this view from the tee shows. Absolute accuracy is required and some luck to find and hold the small green. I managed neither and despite clearing the river with a chopped down 7 wood, I duffed an easy chip and ended up with a 5. The small Dalmally greens ran very true, but were quite slow and the heavy dew meant that the ball did not run much anywhere on the course. My pitching was erratic and alarmingly, I made my first proper sh--- of the trip on the 8th and ended up with a treble bogey 7. This is the view from the 9th tee, a lovely par 4 of 385 yards and the longest hole on the course, with Ben Lui in the background. I managed a 6 there, to go round in a poor 44, miles away from my expectations. We all agreed that Dalmally was a really good and testing layout and a hugely enjoyable start to our travels. We also noticed that there was ample space to the north and east of the course to add another 9 holes and we had some preliminary ideas by the time we'd finished. We did of course recognise that as a small village course heavily dependent on voluntary support and local membership such expansion would be impractical, but course design was to be a recurrent theme of this trip. Our sincere thanks go to the Dalmally club for all of their help.

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