Monday, 12 July 2010

Meldrum House GC - course no 324

Craig, Stu, Polly and I played this hugely impressive and difficult 18 hole parkland championship course on the outskirts of the village of Oldmeldrum on the afternoon of 8 July 2010 in hot and windy conditions. Craig opted to play off the Black tees measuring 7010 yards, par 70 (SSS 75!). I went off the White medal tees 6418 yards, par 70 (SSS 72). Stu played off the yellows, a more manageable 5867 yards and Polly played off the ladies Red tees, a "mere" 5492 yards. This course is owned and operated by the excellent Meldrum House Hotel, and play is restricted to club members and hotel guests. Polly and I had been staying at the hotel and our thanks go to it for allowing Craig and Stu to play it with us. We'd been expecting the course to be fairly easy, as a holiday venue, but Meldrum House turned out to be a hugely challenging track for each of us. Craig and Stu played pretty well, but it was their 3rd full 18 hole course of the day and in hot sultry conditions, it's probably fair to say their energy wilted towards the end. No criticism guys, I'd have been on my knees long before the back 9! Above is a view down the 1st hole, as an example of the water hazards that feature on many of the holes.

I thought the best hole was the 8th, a 334 yard (for me anyway) par 4, with the drive played over a lake to a fairway bending 90 degrees to a small green surrounded by trees. This is the sand iron shot I had to the green for a very satisfying par. I'd played the front 9 in 42. OK, a few mistakes and mishits, but overall, I'd played pretty well. the front 9 is pretty flat but it was hot, we were tired and thankfully there was a refreshment hut by the 10th tee. I also liked the 182 yard par 3 10th, played over another lake, but there is not a single weak hole on this course and my only regret is that I didn't take a photo of every hole. We'd also been expecting that the course would be pretty easy walking, but the back 9 is hilly, with a succession of energy sapping climbs. Thankfully, the last 2 holes are flat. Below is the view from the tee of the 17th, a 318 yard par 4. The carry over the lake is longer than it looks and I only just made it with my 3 wood. The second shot is blind over a small hill. I should have checked the course guide before playing, as there are deep hidden bunkers just over the top of the hill, one of which Stu, Polly and I found, much to the amusement of the gallery on the sun deck of the clubhouse nearby. We also entertained the gallery on the last, a really tricky 178 yard par 3 played over a lake to a small plateau green wedged between tall pine trees. I was stymied by one of those trees after my tee shot but spotted a small gap in the branches. I played an excellent wedge through the gap but missed the 20 foot putt that would have given me a miraculous par. I didn't score so well on the back 9, but I was still pretty happy with an 89 total, net 9 over the 70 par (7 over the SSS). Now 7-2 in my match with Polly.
We'd commented during the round that Meldrum House GC would make a great venue for a professional tournament and it was no surprise to hear on our return from the trip that the Northern Open is to be played there for the next 3 years. No doubt the pros will take some of the holes to bits, but for mere amateurs like us, it's a tremendous test of your game and plays longer than it looks. Meldrum House is not cheap to play as a visitor, but the hotel is excellent and is a good base for travelling around the North-East of Scotland. Take the chance to play here if you can. It's a great test and if you ever find a Scottish parkland course in better overall condition, I'd be amazed.

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