Monday, 2 August 2010

Stromness GC - course no 335

Wow! Craig, Stu and I played this absolutely excellent 18 hole course on 29 July 2010. Stromness is the second largest town in Orkney (to Kirkwall) and is on the west side of the Mainland island in the archipelago. The Stromness course straddles a gently sloping hill on the edge of the town, by the sea, and looks out to the island of Hoy and beyond that, to the Atlantic Ocean. As might expected, the views are amazing and if your golf lets you down, there's still lots to see in all directions, not least the wartime fortifications that protected Scapa Flow from enemy ships. It was also good to see NorthLink's ferry sail by, on its way from Scrabster to Stromness, as I'd spent the past 10 years working on various aspects of ferry operations in Scotland, including on that route. Here's the ferry going past the 3rd green. The Stromness course is a very modest 4804 yards, par 65 off the yellow tees that we played, but don't go thinking that this is an easy course. We played it in flat calm conditions, a rarity in Orkney I can assure you. The course is on a very exposed site and when the wind blows on Orkney, it really blows! Don't even think about packing a golf umbrella. Just take a wet suit and a woolly hat, just in case. We were lucky to avoid some light rain showers and the conditions could not have been better. The course was also in superb condition, so we'd no excuses. It would be difficult to pick a "best hole" from a first visit to such a course, but what about this, the short 251 yard par 4 16th, supposedly the easiest hole on the course? OOB on the left, a burn 200 yards off the tee and an old building blocking the view to the green (at least from where I drove to!) I laid up short of the burn and had a full wedge uphill to a sloping green, over the building. This hole would normally play straight into the prevailing wind, so must be a real challenge in a gale. To the right is a view of the 9th green, with Hoy half-hidden by clouds, but no amount of photos would do full justice to the course's setting. Just go and find out for yourself and take your time. All 3 of us are fairly quick players and we got round in under 3 hours, but there was no-one in front or behind us and we would gladly have taken longer to go round, just to savour the views and the course itself. Perhaps another time. I hope so, since this is simply a superb little course and I'd like to try to beat my score of 80, net 70 (5 over net par). Play it if you can and hope you get good calm weather. If the weather's not great, you'll still enjoy the challenge!

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