Monday, 31 May 2010

Linlithgow GC - course no 300

I played this excellent course with Polly on 30 May 2010 in the club's Mixed 4's competition. Linlithgow is a moderately hilly parkland course of 5851 yards, par 70, off the white medal tees and a pretty modest 5245 yards, par 72 off the ladies' red tees. The clubhouse and car park nestle snugly between the 2nd and 18th holes and this is a view down to the 2nd green from the 4th fairway. The 1st tee is right outside the clubhouse windows and although the drive should be easy enough, the clubhouse was busy, so I'd a sizable audience when teeing off. We scrambled a bogey at the 1st, but it didn't take long for the wheels to come off. Polly hit a decent drive at the second, leaving me an easy 7 into the green. Thankfully the car park is protected by a high fence, but although my quick hook avoided hitting anything valuable, it stayed out of bounds. After more faffing about we ran up a 10, so any ambitions about winning were gone. Respectability was our only remaining target so anything under 95 would do!

The front 9 is pretty short, apart from the 420 yard par 4 9th, a roller coaster of a hole from a high tee played down to a deep gulley, leaving a blind uphill shot to the green. We managed a double bogey there to go out in 48. Barring our disaster at the 2nd and better luck on the greens and we'd have been healthily placed. The greens at our own course are running very fast, so it was difficult to come to terms with those at Linlithgow. Unfortunately, Linlithgow's greens had also been affected by fusarium fungus, so the surfaces were pretty bumpy, making putting something of a lottery. We gathered that the greens were still pretty tricky to read when in good condition, so at least we'd a reasonable excuse for the occasional missed short putt.

The back 9 is markedly longer, with a couple of long par 5's back to back at the 12th and 13th. We were still 3 over 5's after the 13th and a good birdie at the 14th gave us hope that we could get under 90. Here's a view up the 15th, a short 279 yard steeply uphill par 4. By then the wind had got up, so I'd only a small target to aim at. We scrambled a bogey, but our playing partners, having been in contention until then, took an 8, killing off their chances. The signature hole at Linlithgow is the 17th, a 172 yard par 3 played from an elevated tee down to a tiny green at the side of the Union Canal. As shown here, the slope to the right of the green is semi-rough and does not allow the ball to run down to the green, so the only shot is to go for it. I eased back on a 7 wood but still went through the back and we managed to 4-putt the green (my fault!) for a triple bogey. The last hole was also pretty testing. Remember how the clubhouse windows looked over the 1st tee? They also looked over the 18th green, so when I was left with an 80 yard pitch and being prone to the occasional sh---, my thoughts were not entirely positive! Thankfully a good pitch and a couple of putts followed, and we'd gone round in 93 for a net 77.5. That was "only" 9 strokes behind the leaders, with most of the scores in, so we'd finished mid-pack and had had yet another "if only" round. We'd also won a bottle of excellent wine in the raffle, though sadly that one didn't survive the night! We agreed that Linlithgow was a very good and interesting course and we'll certainly play it again sometime, hopefully once the outbreak of fusarium has been overcome.

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