Monday, 21 June 2010

Strathendrick Golf Club - course no 309

I played this excellent 9 hole moorland course on 15 June 2010 after all of the excitement earlier at Helensburgh. Strathendrick is a lovely little course, measuring only 2399 yards from the yellow tees, with a par of 33. The course is on the road to Drymen from Balloch, at the south end of Loch Lomond. From the quaint little wooden clubhouse dating back to the opening of the course in 1901 (with original polished wooden panelling inside) to the mixture of interesting and well-designed and maintained holes, the course was a joy to play. The Starter advised me that the course was in great condition and that I was in for a treat, regardless of how I played and how right he was!

Strathendrick starts with an uphill 132 yard par 3, requiring the tee shot to be played in from a bank to the left of the green. The green was fast running so I was warned not to go direct for it. I took the Starter's advice, but found some rough to the left of the green, leading to a bogey. I'd been discussing the prospects for a midgie attack as we'd both noted the cloudy, hot, humid and windless conditions. My insect spray was in my other golf bag and my windcheater was in the car. Sure enough, the first swarm arrived as I walked through some trees to this, the second tee. The 2nd is a downhill 334 yard par 4 played from an elevated tee over a deep ravine and a first chance to get the driver out. I managed a solid par but any joy from that was quickly tempered by the poignant sight of a bunch of freshly cut flowers by the side of the ladies' tee at the 3rd hole. I remembered vaguely that a lady had been killed on the Strathendrick course some years ago by a stray golf ball. She was only playing the game we all love and my thoughts turned from our new grandson to the poor woman, her relatives and whoever had struck the ball. The 3rd hole is a short uphill par 4 of 268 yards lying between the 2nd and 4th fairways and vulnerable to anything wayward from those tees. The course was almost deserted when I played it, but this was a tight section that I was glad to get through. I bogeyed the 3rd, but had an easy par at the 4th, a 262 yard downhill par 4.

The 5th hole is a 348 yard par 4 and the Stroke Index 1 hole, for obvious reasons when you stand on the tee. A steep bank 150 or so yards out has to be carried, with woods on the left and out of bounds on the right. I'd just missed the narrow fairway and still had a long way to go, but by this time the humidity had got even more intense, the sweat was running into my eyes and the midgies had picked up my trail again. A double bogey there, a difficult par 5 to follow and I was wishing I'd refilled my water bottle before teeing off. The 6th is a 497 yard par 5 with great views of Ben Lomond and other local mountains. This is the view from the tee. I mishit my 3 wood second shot and somehow scrambled a bogey to lie 5 over par after 6 holes, but with 3 par 3's to finish the round, I was hopeful of rescuing a decent score. The 7th hole is a blind par 3 of 198 yards, played over a hill with out of bounds to the right and beyond the small green. I was happy enough with a bogey, having only just kept my tee shot on the golf course at the back of the green. The 8th is also a blind par 3, which 2 local elderly members assured me played far shorter than its 178 yards. Indeed, I was assured that a wedge (over the same ravine as at the 2nd hole) to the top of a hill about 60 yards away would run down the other side of the hill to the green. This seemed highly improbable and sure enough, my easy wedge shot stuck at the top of the hill, leading to much baffled discussion by the locals, who assured me that my next shot should be a putt (of around 120 yards!) I have to concede that these 2 old boys were right. I solidly hit putt went over the brow of the hill and ran all the way down the hill onto the green, but another bogey followed.

And so the last, a hole described in the course guide as "Arguably the best hole on the course, the hole is 193 yards long and follows the tree-lined curve of the River Endrick. With a greenside bunker and out of bounds to the right of the green [and behind it!] and accurate tee shot is not just a luxury, but essential." This is the daunting view from the tee. A solid 7 wood and I was just short of the green, but I took 3 putts from there for yet another bogey. I'd gone round in a disappointing 41, 8 strokes over par and somehow avoided being bitten during my first sight of midges this year. Strathendrick is well worth a visit!

1 comment:

  1. Some time after writing this blog entry, I met someone who knew more about the fatal accident I referred to. It seems the son in law of the lady who died had hit her with his drive from another tee. Awful.