Sunday, 15 August 2010

Crieff GC - Ferntower Course - course no 342

Polly and I played this excellent course on 14 August 2010, with Louise, another Glen GC member, who had qualified for a major amateur competition to be played over this course in few weeks' time. This was Louise's only chance to play the course before that competition, so we had all of the yardage books, course planners and Skycaddies deployed and as the course was quite busy anyway, we could take our time going round. This is the larger of the 2 courses at Crieff GC, west of Perth, and is 6091 yards, par 71, off the yellow tees. This is a view of the clubhouse and part of the massive practice putting green (in fantastic condition, such that we couldn't wait to play the course itself). Ferntower is a parkland course with superb views to the south over miles and miles of rural Perthshire and although moderately hilly in parts, is easy walking.

Ferntower starts gently enough, with a short uphill par 3 and this, the 370 yard par 4 2nd, a really pretty hole with a blind tee shot over a small hill. A mirror half way up a tree behind the tee shows whether the fairway is clear, though I'm not sure we looked at this from the proper angle! The 4th is a fiendishly tricky 115 yard uphill par 3. I'd hit an easy wedge onto the front of the green but the ball ran through into rough, and the green sloped back downhill, so that cost me a disappointing bogey. The course had been remodelled in 1980, one of the results being that the front 9 is a par 37, with the back 9 a more manageable 34. Indeed, there are 3 par 5s and a very long par 4 between holes 5-9, which could clearly have a pivotal influence on scoring. As each of the holes is generally tree lined, it's important to find the fairway from the tee, but some of the fairway slopes carry balls towards the trees. I'm normally a fairly straight driver, but even so, I was finding Position Z too often, hence my dismal 45 to the turn.

The back 9 is potentially easier, with a rich variety of interesting holes and elevation changes, but it helps if you can keep the ball straight and avoid being blocked out by trees. There are also good birdie opportunities, such as this, the 129 yard downhill par 3 17th. I'd hit my 9 iron to within 4 feet, pin high, but missed the easy birdie chance. The last hole looks pretty easy from the tee and at only 270 yards is a very short par 4. However, there is OOB on both sides of the fairway and within 3 yards of the back of the green, so care is needed to avoid ruining a good round. I'd put my tee shot into a shallow bunker 30 yards out and hit what I thought was a good second shot to the front of the green, but the ball bounced straight through to the OOB. We stood at the side of the 18th for a while watching some players behind us have similar problems. I suspect that the 18th might be better as a long par 3 with bunkering behind the hole to protect the Pro Shop area, but it would have been interesting to hear what the members think of that hole. I'd gone round in 85, net 75 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Ferntower is a good test and was in amazing condition. Play it if you're in the Perthshire area, you'll really enjoy it.

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