Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Lochgelly GC - course no 358

I played this good and interesting 18 hole parkland course on 19 October 2010 - a bitterly cold day for the time of year! Lochgelly is a former mining village in western Fife and although the Lochgelly club still has a strong village base, it faces considerable competition from the many local golf clubs, both private and municipal. Indeed, the club professional had been made redundant recently and like many other Scottish clubs, Lochgelly faced considerable financial challenges. I liked the layout of the course, with some seriously tight holes on the back 9, quick greens and good quality fairways. At 5329 yards, par 68, Lochgelly is pretty short, but there's still some very good holes. The course starts with a relatively easy par 5, but the 2nd, an uphill 433 yard par 4, Stroke Index 1, removes any thought that the course can be beaten easily. I managed a couple of opening 5s on these holes, so not too bad a start. The 3rd, as shown here, is an uphill 212 yard par 3, but the green is hidden behind some trees, so a formidable hole which I did well to bogey, after a wild hook of the tee. The 4th is a downhill 303 yard par 4, with a 90 degree right dogleg after 250 yards, with the second shot played to a small green well protected by a gully and bunkers. A good hole.

The course wasn't busy in front of me, but I caught up with 2 couple of 3-balls on the 2nd and 5th holes and was impressed by their friendliness and offers to play through. These kids had been well schooled in golfing etiquette and were a credit to their club, so thanks again, lads. I was also relieved to hit my drive at the 146 yard par 3 5th to within 10 feet of the holes, with my young audience watching. For once, I almost looked like a golfer! The 6th is where Lochgelly gets tight. This is a short par 4, but anything right is OOB onto the local railway line and likewise on the 7th. I really liked the 8th, a deceptively straightforward 336 yard par 4. The drive is played over a small hill and I'd only just over 100 yards to the flag. However, there's a large pond protecting the right of the green, as shown here. The sensible approach is to aim for the left of the green and take advantage of the slope from left to right and for once I did just that, escaping with an easy par. I'd gone out in 38, only 4 over par, but I'd been advised by one of the juniors that the course was tighter on the back 9, with tree-lined fairways that were tricky to hold from tee shots even slightly wayward. A pity that my young course adviser didn't tell me about the OOB to the right of the 11th, as that cost me a double bogey. The narrow 13th is a potentially tricky short par 4, but as the course was by then quiet behind me, I took the option of hitting my drive back down the wider 12th fairway, leaving a simple wedge to the green.

The tightest hole on the course was the 15th, an uphill left dog leg 273 yard par 4. This is the view from the fairway. My strategy here should have been to lay up in front of the ditch, rather than blast a driver into the trees to the right beyond the ditch, but I'll know better the next time! The back 9 at Lochgelly is pretty testing, hence my score of 42, making a gross 80, net 70, against the par of 68. Not bad, but I'd hope to avoid more of the trees, next time.

Lochgelly is only £10 for 18 holes and is either outstanding value or seriously under-priced, depending on your perspective. I'd gladly have paid more to play this course. Signage at Lochgelly is pretty good, but one thing I did wonder about was the lack of a direction marker for the tee shot at the 16th. This is the uninformative view from the tee (the line is straight over the narrow stripe of whins in the middle of the photo, so hopefully that will save you a 200 yard walk to find out!). Good course, though, and well worth playing.

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