Monday, 2 August 2010

Sanday GC - course no 337

Craig, Stu and I played this small 9-hole links course on 30 July 2010. Sanday is the third largest of the Orkney islands and was reached after a 2 hour ferry crossing from Kirkwall (with our all-time best bacon rolls en route!) Sanday's course is 2600 yards, par 35 and was well marked out, with tees, yardage markers and flags. The greens were all surrounded by 2 strands of barbed wire, but the fairways had not been cut. We later discovered that the local farmer did not allow the fairways to be cut, since that affected livestock grazing on his land and food for his animals had to come before golf. Fair enough, but this necessary restriction meant that parts of the course were overgrown and from a golf perspective, nearly unplayable.

We suspected that the restriction on cutting parts of the course may account for some of the rather bizarre Local Rules on the scorecard. For example

"Lost Ball: a replacement ball should be played from a preferred lie close to the area where the ball is deemed by agreement to have been lost, under penalty of one stroke."

"Out of Bounds: On the 9th, the ball should be placed within 2 club lengths of the boundary fence, inside the course, in line with the out of bounds ball, under penalty of 2 strokes."

"Putting Green: the ball may be lifted, cleaned and replaced anywhere on the green, but not nearer the hole, in order to avoid interference from rabbit scrapes, hoof marks, stray daisies or detritus."

We wondered what a "stray" daisy might be since the whole course appeared to be covered in daisies, as shown in the photo of the 2nd green above. Anyway, we struggled our way around the course, using whatever old balls we still had in our bags, rather than lose something more decent in the rough or down one of the many rabbit holes. I scored 43 in total to finish tired but happy. This me on the 9th after completing our golf on Orkney after our 8 courses in 4 days. We'd taken the local bus to the golf course, around 13 miles and had hoped to organise a dial a bus or taxi back to the nearest pub, to while away the hours before the return ferry to Kirkwall. However, we couldn't raise the taxi service by phone and the bus connection was only available at ferry times. So, after the many miles we'd already walked, we had another 5 mile walk to the nearest pub at Kettletoft. Thankfully it wasn't raining (yet!), but all of the walk seemed to be uphill and we'd already drunk all of our water. We found a shop after 3 or so miles, but only one of us noticed that it was selling beer and he assumed that the others would see the stack of cans by the door. Sadly not and those of us who were beerless did not have the energy to walk back. Shortly afterwards, Craig and I saw a ruined church in the distance and someone in a red coat climb the outside stairs and seemingly go into a doorway. There was no traffic around and when we got nearer, there was no car parked near the church. Stranger still, the outside stairs led to a barred door and there was no floor beyond that door. Weird or what? We clearly needed a beer and as if by magic the missing taxi driver turned up, offering us a lift to the pub at Kettletoft, where we spent a couple of hours playing pool and watching the heavy rain that started shortly after we got there. Stranger still, the taxi driver declined payment!
We'd really enjoyed the courses at South Ronaldsay, Stromness, Orkney and Westray GCs and would recommend them as well worth a visit. Orkney as a whole was great place to visit, full of interest and we found the people to be very helpful and incredibly friendly. However, we doubt whether we would want to play the other 3 Orkney courses again unless they improved dramatically (which we fear is unlikely).

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