Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Whitemoss Golf Club - course no 313

I played at Whitemoss near Perth on 29 June 2010 on yet another hot and sunny day (and again forgot the sun tan cream!). Whitemoss is an 18 hole parkland course, measuring 5639 yards, par 69, off the yellow tees. Whitemoss is easy walking, though the side slopes of some modest hills come into play on the front 9, adding to the interest (and difficulty!) of the course. The fairways are also pretty narrow, but the rough was short, so missing the fairways wasn't really a problem on most holes. I'd bogeyed the first couple of holes after missing the greens in regulation, but was really pleased to get away with another bogey at the 3rd, a 438 yard par 4. From the tee, it's obvious that the hole is a right angle dog leg, but it was tricky to judge the distance to the corner, since all you see is trees to the right and a hill some distance ahead, with the 8th green shelved into it. I suspect the right club would have been a 5 iron, but my 3 wood cleared the 8th green and was almost out of bounds. Where was the usual duff to the right that would have saved me from apologising to the threesome approaching the 8th green? My 9 iron recovery shot hit an out of bounds fence and rebounded back into play, leaving me here, some 150 yards short of the green, with a water hazard in front and out of bounds behind and to the right of the green. Thankfully, a solid 7 found the green and 2 good putts meant I'd only dropped a single shot.

I also made a mess of the 8th, an innocent looking 315 yard par 4. The fairway was even narrower than others, with a line of trees up the left side separating it from the 5th. Both fairways were on the side of a hill, so the plan was to knock the ball up the 5th and let it run down beyond the line of trees. I discussed this idea on the tee with a local member who had waived me through and should have taken more heed of his doubts and the advice that the green was tiny and was almost impossible to hold unless the approach was from below the green itself. I hit a decent drive but was blocked out by the line of trees. I should have played my next back onto the 8th fairway, leaving a simple wedge up to the green. Instead, I stuck to the 5th fairway strategy and had an almost impossible lob wedge from above the green which, as I'd been told, duly ran through the green. I managed a double bogey and made a mental note to listen more carefully to advice from local members in future! Some credibility was restored on the 9th, the Stroke Index 1 hole, a 588 yard par 5 (617 yards from the medal tee!). A good drive and a couple of 7 woods almost made the green but an excellent pitch and run and a single putt rescued the par. I was out in 43, but as I'd only had 13 putts my outfield play was clearly not at its best and my course management was pretty woeful.
Whitemoss probably has the greatest difference I've yet seen between the longest and shortest holes. The 8th is 588 yards, but the 13th, as shown here, is only 95 yards, a difference of almost 500 yards. I'd not really thought about that contrast before, but since the previous par 3s at Whitemoss had been 193, 160 and 197 yards, the tiny 13th comes a complete surprise. Since the course was so dry and sun-baked, this hole was also extremely difficult. The green sits on a small shelf with a deep bunker in front and gorse bushes behind. Banking immediately behind the green looks as though it acts as a back stop, but since that ground is rock hard, chances are that a ball would simply bounce through to the thick gorse. There are probably many ways to tackle the hole, from a pitch and run in off the hill to the right of the green, or a solid sand iron played with some spin to hold the green (aye right, Alan!). Instead, I opted for the somewhat unconventional sh--- into high rough way right, a lucky lob wedge around the banking and a couple of putts for a bogey. The course was quiet around me and my embarrassment had not been witnessed. I'd found an old Pinnacle (a poor choice when spin was required!) in my bag so I went back to the tee, determined to par the shortest hole I'd seen for a long time. I hit another sand iron and the ball certainly hit the green this time but bounced on into the gorse, where it will doubtless lie until some desperate soul with skin like leather finds it. I hope his find is worth the effort. There is ample space behind and to the right of the 13th to lengthen the hole, but I also hope that the club never considers such a move, since although the hole is quirky and silly short, it is great fun to play!

There are many other good holes at Whitemoss, but my favourite was the 14th, as shown here, a scarily narrow 256 yard par 4, with a water hazard some 200 yards off the tee, ready to swallow anything mishit. I cleared the hazard, but my short pitch was uphill, with only the top of the flag being visible. The green is also on 2 levels, but a good pitch and a 20 foot putt yielded a rare birdie (for me anyway!) I also made a 50 foot putt (Craig - witnessed by 2 guys I'd caught up with) on the next hole for a bogey after yet another collision with trees. However, my scoring had been better on the back 9 and a bogey/par finish on the last 2 short pars 4s would get me to net par. There's tons of room on the right from the 17th tee. All you need to do is avoid a line of skinny looking trees to the left. What do I do? I'll spare you the details, but you'll be right to think that wood was involved. Double bogey and an easy par up the 302 yard 18th meant I'd gone round in 80. Not bad, but with only 28 putts my newly regripped Ping Anser 4 (did it myself!) took most of the credits. Whitemoss was in really good condition and was an interesting layout, well worth a visit.

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