Monday, 17 January 2011

Bathgate Sports Centre - Balbardie Golf Course - Course no 366

This is a 1237 yard 9 hole Par 3 course attached to the Bathgate Sports Centre, as operated by West Lothian Council. I played this course on 17 January 2011 on just about the first dry and sunny day we've had this year. Like everywhere else in Scotland, the course had been snow-covered until very recently. The course had been set to Winter greens when I arrived, but the greenkeeping staff were working on the course and were helpfully putting the flags back on the greens as they went, meaning I got to play the full course. The snow had melted but the ground was absolutely saturated, so conditions were far from ideal and there was absolutely no run, with tee shots plugging where they landed. The greens were also very bumpy and slow, making putting tricky. This is the 1st green, looking back to the tee. I missed the green but scrambled a par with a 10 foot downhill putt - the longest I holed all round!

The best hole is probably the 4, as shown here, a 160 yarder, played to a small steeply sloping shelf green. I missed the green long and right, but a great pitch with my lob wedge to within a few inches was enough to secure the par. I dropped my first shot of the day at the 6th, a 168 yarder. I'd caught up with the greenkeeper by then, so he advised that I play to the normal greens and move the flags to them as I went round. I'd no idea where the holes were for my tee remaining tee shots and ironically, I mishit the tee shot at the 6th to within a foot of the hole on the Winter green. That would have been a tap in birdie, but the guy was only trying to be helpful and it clearly wasn't his fault that I took another 3 shots to get down from all of 20 yards. I parred the 7th and 8th easily enough, so only 1 over par on the last tee, a 196 yarder and easily the longest hole on the course, played directly into the low Winter sun. It was only after I'd hit my 7 wood tee shot that I noticed the scorecard was set in metres. I can (just) do a 178 yard carry with my 7 wood, but I ended up around 20 yards short and duffed a lob wedge from there. I scrambled a bogey from 20 feet on this, the last green to go round in 29, with 14 putts. That score equates to 3 under par, so not too bad in the circumstances. I suspect that I could have done even better had I noticed that the card was in metres - an easy mistake! The scorecard, uniquely in my experience so far, also has a space for the player's age, yet has no space for the handicap and lists the following local rule "If ball lands in water or in trees you are allowed free drop." Bizarre. Still, this is a good wee course for beginners and for general practice.

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