I played this little-known 9 hole parkland course on 17 May 2010. Craig and Stu had played it last Autumn and raved about it and the extreme difficulty of the 8th hole, so I was really looking forward to playing at Whitehill, located in Rosewell, just outside Edinburgh. The Whitehill House course is only 5 years old and is built in the grounds of a fine old mansion house that regrettably has seen better days. The course is 3089 yards par 35 off the yellow tees and starts pretty tamely with a downhill par 3, a really good downhill dog leg par 4 protected by a greenside pond and a short uphill par 4. From there, the course gets progressively more demanding, with a 562 yard downhill dog leg par 5. The green is quite small (in other words, I missed it!) and scrambled a bogey. The 5th is also gently downhill and is another chance to really open the shoulders with the tee shot. A needless flirtation with a gorse bush miles away from the fairway cost me a bogey, when a more restrained tee shot might have been wiser.
The 6th is a really good dog leg 385 yard par 4. The tee shot has to clear a pond, avoid out of bounds to the left and be short of a row of 5 bunkers awaiting any attempt to cut the dog leg. This is the gently uphill approach to the green with the old mansion house in the background. My 8 iron missed the green completely and I ended up with another poorly played bogey. I was now level 5s for the round and with the 8th looming in the distance, the scorecard did not look too pretty. I managed to par the 7th in 3. As Craig had promised, the 172 yard par 3 8th hole was simply magnificent, played from an elevated tee over a deep wooded gorge and requiring absolute accuracy to avoid the tall trees that dominate the hole. This shot was taken from the yellow tee after my tee shot, which I'm delighted to report finished on the green. However, the green is probably also the most difficult on the course to read. My ball had finished in a hollow 25 feet from the hole, requiring a 4 foot borrow. I left the putt around 4 feet short, but holed that for a par at what must surely be one of the best par 3's I've played recently. There was only a breeze blowing, but since the tee is very exposed, I shudder to think what this hole must be like on a stormy day. And so to the last hole, an uphill 462 par 5. I was too bold with my second shot, ending up half-stymied by a couple of large trees, as shown here. The rough was quite short, so a 60 yard pitch and run with a 6 iron played low off the back foot got me onto the green. I just missed the long birdie putt, but I was happy enough with the 5. I'd gone round in 41 and thoroughly enjoyed the course, which was in great condition for the time of year and after the recent harsh winter. The greens were slower than I prefer and as the greenkeeper commented to me when I met him on the course, the greens will speed up and improve further with some more warm weather. Like Craig and Stu, I'd recommend this course to anyone with a couple of hours to spare who wants to test themselves on one of the most tricky par 3's they'll ever play. Like me, they might also enjoy this last look back at the 9th green. Lovely.