I played this excellent parkland/moorland course on 3 August 2010 after my quick spin round the Kenmore course. I'd thought that Strathtay was a moderately hilly 9 hole course, but the members had put in 9 additional tees last year, making it a full 18 hole course, albeit played to 9 greens. I was also wrong about the course being only moderately hilly, as I found out on my way to the 3rd tee! Strathtay also has the distinction of being the shortest 18 hole golf course (apart from par 3 courses, such as Kaimes) I think I've ever played. From the yellow tees, the course plays to only 3601 yards, par 63 and is great fun to play. The course is very hilly, but because it is so short, (or am I just getting fitter, after so much golf recently?), it is not particularly tiring. Indeed, I got round in just over 2 hours and would like to have gone round again, such was the fun nature of this wee course. The villagers certainly have a great community asset here and at £135 a year, get fantastic value for their money! Who needs a gym when a walk round here is such fun?
Holes 1/10 are flat and short, and easy par 4s. Nevertheless, I bogeyed the 1st, all of 241 yards to a small green. Holes 2/11 are gently uphill, but the real fun starts at the 3rd. A direction sign pointed me up an improbably long and steep path, leading to this view of a tiny green set far below between stands of mature trees. I'd tried to swing easy with a 7, but only succeeded in creaming the ball onto the far side of the 1st/10th fairway in the distance, much to the bemusement of an elderly couple playing that hole. A good wedge and a single putt later and I'd escaped with a par. The 4th was a short uphill par 3 and another good par. I stood for a while on this, the 5th tee, trying to convince myself that the hole really was over the hill in the far distance. Indeed, the fairway was so improbably steep I really had no shot. My 9.5 degree driver was no good and my 3 wood wouldn't reach the top of the hill. However, 3 wood it had to be, but a great wedge played blind over the hill to within 20 feet helped me to rescue another par. As shown below, Stroke Index 1 was next on the 6th, a downhill 318 yard par 4. Thankfully, I slightly mishit my 3 wood, or I'd have been through the fairway to the right amongst the trees, but remarkably, another par went onto the card. My Houdini act was on again on the 8th, a seriously difficult 279 yard par 4 played from an elevated tee to a narrow gap between trees, for another par. At the 9th, a short 106 yard par 3, I caught up with a 4-ball and 3 other members waiting to tee off at holes 1/10, all of whom stood just in front to my right, with the clubhouse veranda beyond them. To the left, the car park and OOB. Anyone who's read this blog will have shared my suffering with the odd sh---, so it was a great relief to hit my wedge straight (through the green!) I actually had a putt for an outward 34, but missed it in a rush to take advantage of the offer to play through at the 10th. Good excuse that!
And so to the back 9, with different tees to the same greens as before. Thankfully, the 12th tee was level with the green, rather than (as the 3rd hole), halfway up a mountain. However, well done if you can see the 12th green! It's actually immediately behind the trees 167 yards away from the tee, where this photo was taken. Again, I was halfway down the 1st fairway, but made a bogey. I'd actually thought that the back 9 might be less hilly, but no, back I went, up to the 3rd/13th tee to play down to the 4th/13th green. At 14, I'd yet another slog up the hill. I thought I'd seen it all until I came to this, the 17th, as shown below. If the 8th tee shot was narrow, this was even more so. I hit a good drive down the left and was lucky to find the ball a few yards from the OOB, only a short (blind) wedge over a hill to the green and another par. I got to the 18th tee needing a 3 for a gross 69. I'd only broken 70 twice before on 18 hole courses (at Cullen and the old layout at Swanston) but a pulled wedge that almost went OOB led to a disappointing bogey and a round of 70, net 60. Still, that's 3 under the par of 63 and as one of my friends is donating £1 for each stroke under par on any new course I'm playing, that's another £3 for Cancer Research UK. Every little helps! I suspect that this will be one of THE most enjoyable and satisfying rounds in my own Scottish golfing challenge. This course is simply superb fun to play. There's not a weak hole to be found and although it's ridiculously short, Strathtay really is a gem. There's really no need for golfing tourists to concentrate only the big "trophy" courses in Scotland. Play them by all means, but little gems like Strathtay (at £15 a round!) offer something different and something far more positive for the ego. It's a long time since I went round a course in 70 and I suspect I'll remember this round for longer than any of my 90+ scores on big championship courses.
5 3 3 4 4 4 3 4 4 - 34
4 4 4 3 4 5 4 4 4 - 36
looks good written down too! I'm going back there sometime to try to beat it.