Thursday, 20 January 2011

Kilbirnie Place GC - Course no 368

I played this good and interesting inland course in Ayrshire on 20 January 2011 on a frosty and sunny day. I'd driven over through freezing fog and black ice, giving myself time to find a new course by the coast if necessary. Although the Kilbirnie course was using temporary greens because of the frosty conditions, the course looked interesting, as this view from the 1st tee shows, so I decided that the likes of Irvine Bogside could wait for another day. Kilbirnie Place GC is an 18 hole parkland course of 5370 yards off the yellow tees, but was playing to nearer 5000 yards because of the temporary greens. However, I suspect that the par of 69 was unaffected, as the frosty conditions and the roughness of the greens offset the reduction in length.

The 1st was a 120 yard Par 3 played over a burn that was also to make the 18th very tricky in due course. I misjudged the extreme slowness of the 1st green and took 4. The tees were brick hard due to the frost, so driving was also difficult. Added to that the low sun on some holes, particularly the 3rd, suggested I'd do well to finish with the same ball (which I did, just!) and make a decent score. I'd been given a detailed map of the course which was a real necessity as without it I'd really have been lost. Even so, I had fun trying to find the 4th tee, hidden behind a horse paddock all on its own. This was a good hole, though, with excellent views of an old castle behind the green, as shown here. I scrambled my way around the front 9 in 37, missing most greens in regulation but pitching close enough to hole a few single putts.

The back 9 at Kilbirnie is definitely more challenging. Holes 10 and 11 are easy enough, but if you can find it, the 12th is a really formidable par 4. The card says it's only 315 yards, but this hole is all about the tee shot. The 12th tee sits in a wooded ravine beyond the 4th tee. There's a good path, but it was very icy and as I was watching my feet on the ice so carefully that I walked right past the tee and spent the next 10 minutes trying to find it. The tee is actually at the bottom of the wooded ravine, with a distant marker on a hill the only clue about distance and direction. It looked as though I had to hit at least 200 yards up and over the trees. Even then, I'd a blind shot to the temporary green. I escaped with a bogey 5, but the hole is just a card wrecker. If that was hard, the 13th is a 482 yard uphill par 5, with OOB on the left of the fairway. I managed a poor 7 after missing the fairway from the tee. The 14th is a slightly uphill 192 yard Par 3 played over a dyke that conceals a deep gully and a water hazard, so the tee shot has to carry at least 180 yards. I got a 4 after a good 3 wood, but what an awkward stretch of holes. The 15th is a 260 yard Par 4 that I birdied after a good pitch to 3 feet. I had an equally good pitch at the 16th but just missed the short birdie putt. I had another par at the 17th, a good 507 yard Par 5, so needed a par at the last for a gross 77, net 67. This is the 18th, an excellent short Par 3 of 139 yards, finishing in front of the clubhouse windows (as all good closing holes should). I've been hitting my irons well of late, but the sight of the greenkeeper tidying some tree branches 40 yards forward and to my right was a bit disconcerting. He'd certainly not have had much time to duck! However, I hit a good 8 iron and a short pitch to 2 feet for an easy par. I'd gone round in 77, or 2 under net par, with 28 putts on the somewhat dodgy temporary greens. Another good round and a good enjoyable course.

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