Polly and I had entered the Mixed Greensomes Open at Fraserburgh held on 4 July 2010. Driving up there from Carnoustie, the wind and rain had increased in intensity, so by the time we teed off, with some doubts about whether we'd complete the course, the wind was absolutely howling. Founded in 1777, Fraserburgh is the 7th oldest club in the world and has been on its present site since 1891, with the course being redesigned by James Braid in 1922. We wondered how many competitions had been played since those times in such extreme summer weather! I'd omitted to pack my thermal underwear and double lined winter woolly hat and have no idea what the temperature was, but we were shivering in the car park and our wet suits and summer hats did little to keep us warm. The Course Ranger at Carnoustie had been right and the local weather was warning of structural damage to buildings, so what on earth were we doing, with a pair of equally daft golfers from Inverallochy, waiting to play? Our first hole was a sign of things to come. I hit a great drive, and after choosing that ball, Polly hit an equally impressive 3 wood. I then absolutely creamed another 3 wood to reach the back of the green. Admittedly we 3-putted, but a 6 was a pretty good start. Nearly forgot, the hole was a 404 yard par 4, into around a 60 mph wind. The 2nd hole was stroke index 3, an uphill 363 yard par 4, again into the wind. This time we needed driver, 3 wood (twice!), wedge and 2 putts for another 6. Jim and Victoria, our new friends from Inverallochy, had advised us in advance that the 3rd tee, the most elevated part of the course, was "pretty exposed" a masterly understatement. Above is a remarkably good photo from the plateau tee on the 3rd. The wind by then was difficult to even stand up in and as we waited to tee off, calls were being made by mobile to ask the organisers whether the competition should be suspended. Much to our surprise, play continued and in a perverse way, we were actually enjoying ourselves. Any ambitions to score well and compete were displaced by a grim determination to complete the course, accepting anything the weather could throw at us. Our spirits were also raised by a remarkable par at the 5th a 183 yard par 3, my driver finding the green, straight into the wind.
The Fraserburgh club had put up a prize for nearest the pin in one, on the green, at this hole, the 7th, a downhill 165 yard par 3. The green is almost surrounded by run off areas and bunkers and is apparently notoriously difficult to hold even in normal conditions. None of us were contenders for the prize (or even hit the green at all) and I wondered afterwards whether any of the 100+ competitors won the prize, such was the difficulty of the tee shot. Polly and I got to the turn in 50. The wind by then had dropped to a mere gale and the sun had come out. Wet suits off, our play was getting better (well, acceptable). We completed the back 9 in a remarkable 43, strokes, including a par at this, the tricky 198 yard par 3 14th. We'd survived and gone round in 93, less 14.4 for a 78.6. Our trip meant that we only got back home late on 10 July to a mountain of mail and newspapers, including vouchers worth £40 for coming 3rd in the handicap competition, so well done us! We finished the Corbie Hill course just as an ominously dark cloud filled the sky to the west accompanied a distant clap of thunder. I'd hoped to play the 9-hole Rosehill Course at Fraserburgh GC, but we didn't really have time. Just as well I didn't as within a few minutes of finishing the skies opened, with torrential rain and lightning for half an hour. Even then, some foolhardy souls were finishing play on the 18th and there was still no plan to suspend play. The Corbie Hill course was in fine condition and was a really formidable test in the bizarre weather we faced. My own favourite hole was the 2nd, but there were many others to choose from. This is a "must play" for anyone interested in playing quality traditional links courses. Think Cruden Bay, Carne, Rosapenna, Ballyliffin, Narin & Portnoo or even Gullane 1, as Fraserburgh is right up there with the best of them. In any tour of Scotland it is tempting to focus on the famous "trophy" courses and to talk about play at Turnberry, Troon and St Andrews and few golfers outside Scotland may know about Fraserburgh. But don't take my word for it, go and see for yourself. This is a great course (and the steak pies are pretty good too!). I've still to play the Rosehill course, but when I do, I'll be trying to squeeze in another round over its big brother.