Thursday, 23 September 2010

Selkirk GC - course no 353

I played this moorland course on 23 September 2010 on a day when other parts of the country were being flooded by torrential rain. Selkirk is a 90 minute drive south from East Lothian and on the way down the rain got so bad that I was wondering whether the course would be playable at all. As it turned out, the rain eased after I'd waited around for an hour, just as one of the locals had predicted. The Selkirk course has 9 greens and 10 tees, so I had to go round twice, dodging the odd light shower. However, the course wasn't busy, as is clear from this photo of the clubhouse and car park from the 9th/18th tee! I guess I was the only one daft enough to be playing that day.

The course is 5331 yards par 68 off the yellow tees and is pretty hilly, with some quirky holes. For example, this is the 384 yard 5th/14th hole, a really awkward par 4. The tee shot is blind over a hill, leaving a long iron from a side/down slope to a tiny shelved green. Indeed, the front half of the green is on such a steep slope that no ball would stay on it. My 7 wood first time round hit the middle of the green but rolled back, right off the green. My putt from the fringe of the green almost made it to the top tier, but came all the way back to me, despite the course being very wet after the rain, resulting in a bogey. The key here is to hit through the green and chip back (as I did on the 14th to get my par) or at least be sure to take enough club to find the top tier. It's further than it looks!

Holes 7 (165 yards) and 16 (210 yards) have different tees and that's the only place where there is enough room to add a 10th tee to the course. However, the green is slightly above both tees, meaning that only a sliver of green and the flag is visible from the tees. I preferred the shorter 7th as from that tee it was at least possible to see that the land fell away to the right and that the safe line in was slightly to the left of the green. The restricted view from the 16th tee is pretty daunting and I took 9 strokes in total on these tricky holes. I particularly liked the 8th/17th, the 495 yard par 5 Stroke Index 2 and 1 holes. The narrow fairway runs along the top of the course (alongside a small practice ground on the highest and most remote part of the course!) The fairway sits in a shallow valley lined with heather and bushes, with the green lying in a hollow below a ridge that splits the end of the fairway. First time round I hit Driver, 7 wood to 60 yards or so and had a blind pitch over the ridge to the green, as shown here. I parred the hole both times after some good straight hitting, but it was certainly a difficult hole. Anything but straight could have led to a big score!

Selkirk keeps its best hole to the last and the 9th/18th is a gem of a par 3, played from an elevated tee to a small green set in a hollow 151 yards away. I played an 8 iron both times and even chipped in for a birdie from just off the green when playing the 9th. This is the view from the tee. I played the course in almost windless conditions but my guess is that this hole would be hugely difficult in windy conditions. I scored 41 first time round and 37 second time, for a 78 total, net 68, matching the par of the course, so a good round overall. Selkirk is quirky but good fun and well worth playing if you get the chance.

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