Monday, 28 February 2011

Kirkintilloch GC - Course no 377

Polly and I played this excellent course on 28 February 2011 on a lovely sunny day.  I took the jumper off it was so warm, so hopefully that's the end of the worst of the Winter!   Anyway, Kirkintilloch is an interesting parkland course just north of Glasgow, playing to 5599 yards, Par 70, off the Yellow tees.  As Winter tees were still in operation, the course was playing shorter than that, but the downside was that the greens were slow and bumpy, a common feature of parkland courses at this time of the year.  Polly was disappointed that there were no Ladies Winter tees, meaning that "her" course was a bit longer than she'd expected.  Thanks go to the club for all of their help and generous support and a very friendly welcome.

The course is an old James Braid design, updated considerably in 2000 and with further changes in 2009.  However, I suspect that much of the orginal layout remains, as there's an established feel to the place, with the newer holes fitting in very well.  Kirkintilloch is fortunate to have Colin Mongomerie as its Honorary President (and I don't know how it managed that considerable coup!) and Colin rightly describes the 7th, 9th and 12th holes as particularly testing.  However, there's far more to this course than just those holes.  As shown here, the 1st is a particularly attractive opener, a 370 yard par 4.  Mats were mandatory on the fairways but I didn't need mine then after a hooked drive into the trees on the left that cost me an opening bogey. 

The 2nd was a good uphill Par 3, but I found one of the many bunkers so that was another bogey on the card.  The 3rd is normally a par 4 of only 270 yards, but I couldn't see that there was also a temporary green in operation , so my drive ended up 30 yards beyond the flag!  This is the 4th, a super little slightly downhill 267 yard Par 4.  The tee was slightly forward, enabling me to drive to the front of the green.  However, the green slopes uphill from there, so I only parred the hole, after the first of many more failures to adjust my putting to the lack of pace on parkland greens still having to be kept long to minimise risks of frost damage.

The 7th is the Stroke Index 1 hole and is a 415 yard par 4 with a pond and a stream in front of the green.  I'd found a fairway bunker from the tee and had a 7 iron for my 3rd shot, which found a copse of trees to the right and short of the green.  Even so, I was only a few feet away in 4, so a bogey would have been OK.  However, this green was particularly difficult to judge and I 3-putted it for a poor 7.  The 8th was the only hole that was really wet underfoot, being particularly low-lying and again, putting was a bit of a lottery in the Winter conditions.  The 9th was another good hole, a 370 yard par 4 with an uphill 2nd shot that's a bit longer than it looks.  I'd hooked a wedge so that was another bogey for an outward 43.  Not very good.

The 10th is a good strong Par 5 of 494 yards and was playing to all of that.  A rare single putt from all of 6 feet (our longest putt of the day!) and I'd got another par.  However, a sh--- at the 178 yard  Par 3 11th cost me a triple bogey and led to much much dark muttering that I'll not repeat in the interests of any sensitive readers.  Suffice to say that I did not spare the horses off the next tee.  The 12th is a superb hole, 412 yards par 4, playing shorter off a Winter tee.  Even so, I'd a blind uphill 7 wood shot to a long and narrow green, played to perfection for an easy par.

I suspect that the best hole at Kirkintilloch might be the 16th 298 yard par 4, played from an elevated tee with the green half-hidden by mature trees that guard the entry on both sides of the green for second shots, such that the tree bark on the "fairway side" is heavily scarred by countless years of wayward approaches.  However, a Winter green short of these trees had reduced this to a drivable hole, even for me, and my par there was something of a disappointment. 

As shown here, the 18th is also an excellent hole, with redesigned bunkering and new trees that in a few years will really toughen the finish to the course.  The 18th is a 325 yard par 4 from an elevated tee and offers a final opportunity to open the shoulders for a memorable drive.  I played to the green OK but  got above the hole, so that was another 3 putt.  I'd gone round in 85, net 75, or 5 over net par.  I'd also taken 35 putts, holing nothing over 6 feet and 3-putting 3 times.  Still, I'd really enjoyed the course and was sure that the greens would quickly return to their best once the Spring arrives. For the record Polly won the bragging rights, beating me by a single Stableford point after my 3-putt on the last and some good driving in particular, so well done her!  

Kirkintilloch is well worth a visit and has some great views over the nearby Campsie Hills.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Tillicoultry GC - Course no 376

I played this excellent heathland/moorland 9 hole course after my round at nearby Alva.  The old boys who had let me through at the 1st on Alva had said that Tillicoultry was a far better course and how right they were.  Although both courses lie at the foot of the Ochil Hills and are only 2 miles apart, their playing conditions were markedly different.  Where Alva had been muddy and slow, Tillicoultry was more free-draining, had far better greens and was a better and more interesting lay out.  It was also only moderately hilly and was a joy to play, in contrast to my muddy trudge around Alva.  Tillicoultry is short, at 2612 yards, Par 34, but played a bit longer after the recent rain.

The 1st at Tillcoultry is a dog leg left 363 yard Par 4 with a slightly uphill tee shot, played to a double green shared with the 5th hole.  I played the hole to the Yellow flag on the left of the green, assuming that the red flag on the right of the green belonged to the 5th, but that was probably the wrong way round!  Anyway, ignoring that mistake, I managed a good opening par after a single putt had made up for my hooked drive into pine trees on the left of the fairway.  The 2nd is a dog leg right 344 yard par 4, played back towards the clubhouse, with a downhill second shot.  A bogey there after under-hitting my 8 iron second.  The 3rd is a good-looking 151 yard par 3, but the tee had been moved to the very left  to protect the teeing ground during the Winter, leaving a very awkward looking shot over a tall tree, as shown above.  My 6 iron was too much club, so I had another bogey.  The holes so far had been well sign-posted, but I needed a member to come out of the 19th to help me find the 4th tee, hidden away round the back of the 9th green.  This was a short 255 yard par 4 and the Stroke Index 18 hole, so an easy par after a good pitch to 20 feet. 

This is the 5th, a really strong 353 yard par 4, Stroke Index 1. The bunker can be cleared easily enough, but only a huge drive will clear the slope beyond, so I had a blind 8 iron second shot to the double green shared with the 1st. I'd played the 1st to the yellow flag i.e. the nearest to the 5th fairway, but on reflection I probably played the 1st to the wrong flag.  As there was no-one on the 1st, I made up for my mistake at that hole by playing to the red flag i.e. nearest the 1st fairway.  Confused?  - so was I.  However, I bogeyed the 5th after missing a short putt and wondered about the safety aspects of this hole.  After all, most shots played from the 5th fairway to the green will be blind over the upslope that I'd landed on, with players unable to see anyone putting out on the 1st.

My favourite hole at Tillicoultry was the 6th, a 131 yard Par 3 off the Yellow tee (and only 84 yards off the White medal tee).  The Winter tee had been set to the side of the back tee, so this was the restricted view of the hole that I had from the tee.  What this does not show is the fast flowing stream in front of the green and the drop-off to the back and left of the green.  I hit my 7 iron into the bank on the right of the green, but got down in 2 from there for a good par.  The 7th is a 311 yard par 4, played across the side of a steep hill.  This fairway was pretty wet (unlike most of the rest of the course) so my drive held on the slope and I'd an easy pitch and a couple of putts for another par.  The 8th was a really tough side-sloping 422 yard Par 4, played in the opposite direction and down the slope from the 7th.  I'd hit a long drive but chickened out of trying for the tiny green as the stream that had been hidden on the 6th was all too obviously in play in front of the 8th green.  Still, an easy bogey there was a reasonable outcome.  And so to the last, a 339 yard par 4 dog leg left from an elevated tee and downwind.  Unfortunately, I hooked my drive into trees and ended up with a bogey.  Still, I'd gone round in 39 (net 34), with 16 putts, so not too shabby overall. 

Tillicoultry is an excellent and very pretty course and is well worth a visit.

Alva GC - Course no 375

I played this very hilly and thankfully very short 9 hole course on 24 February 2011.  Alva is only 2462 yards, Par 33 of the yellow tees and would be easy for anyone who could hit the ball unerringly straight, find the tiny greens and cope with the slow greens (kept long to protect against frost etc). I'd been invited to play through on the 1st tee by a couple of elderly members and had no-one in front of me.  This of course meant that I'd no-one to follow, so it didn't take me long to get lost.  The 1st hole is a very gently uphill par 4 of only 301 yards, but I missed the small green to the right for an opening bogey.  After eventually finding the 2nd tee, I was faced with the first of Alva's serious slopes on this 281 yard Par 4 hole.  I hit a good long drive, but the green was nowhere to be found, with the fairway just running out into heavy rough and trees.   I then discovered that the green was perched on a small shelf of land improbably far up the steep hill directly to my right.  I didn't hit my wedge hard enough and the ball would have come back to me had it not got stuck in mud.  Another bogey and I was beginning to regret playing this course in such boggy conditions.  My mood was not improved by this, the view from the 3rd tee.  The 3rd was a 171 yard Par, played across a whin-covered hillside to a tiny shelf of a green.  The wind was blowing hard up the hill from the left, so I tried to hold off a 7 wood, to let the wind blow it onto the green.  You won't see my ball in this picture as it's way left, out of shot, after a wild hook.  At least I found the green with a good wedge and holed a short putt for a first par.  The 4th was another short par 3, this time played the other way, with the ground sloping sharply down from left to right.  I missed the tiny green and took 2 putts from inside 6 feet for another bogey, so it was confirmed - I was not enjoying this round one bit.  The 5th was Stroke index 1 and a sharply downhill 397 yard Par 4, which I parred after a rare long putt, given the extreme slowness of the greens.

I then got lost again, eventually finding the 6th tee some 200 yards back and down the hill from the 5th green.  The 6th was a simple enough 326 yard par 4, but some signage would have helped.  At least I parred the hole.  The 7th was just silly.  The sign on the tee said it was a 93 yard par 3, and I eventually worked out that the green must be straight up another steep hill.  This is the green, side on.  Since the 7th green is about 75 feet above the tee, the hole plays longer than it looks, even with the wind from behind, so I was relieved to get my par.

The 8th was a 377 yard par 4, played into the wind and with an uphill second shot to a long narrow green with a false front that made the green seem closer than it actually was.  However, a good chip and run and a single putt and I'd scrambled a par.  The 379 yard par 4 last hole was slightly downhill and very much downwind.  I hit a good drive and had only a short pitch to the green, close to the well-shuttered clubhouse windows, as shown here.  Another par there, and I'd gone round in 36, with only 12 putts.  I'd also splashed my way around the Alva course in just over an hour.  Maybe it would have been better on a nice Summer's day, but I doubt whether I would try to find out.  I've played the course once and will probably be happy to leave it at that.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Kirkhill GC - Course no 374

David (my best mate and doubles partner at the Glen GC) and I had a great time playing this excellent 18 hole parkland/heathland course on 22 February 2011, despite the unexpected rain that dampened much of the round.  We'd turned up without booking ahead, so were really delighted to be given courtesy of the course in recognition of the Cancer Research fundraising I'm doing as part of my challenge with Craig and Stu to play every Scottish course.  Indeed, Duncan Williamson (the Pro) and his wife could not have been more welcoming and we were in awe of Duncan's recent remarkable achievement of raising over £6,000 for a local hospice by playing the Kirkhill course 8 times in a single day, taking 20 hours and walking (I reckon) around 40 miles.  To cap it all, he thought it would be possible to squeeze in a 9th round, next time.  If ever I feel tired doing my own trek, I'll be taking encouragement from Duncan's achievement.  Truly inspirational, but I did wonder whether it was just coincidence that he'd just returned from the physio when we met him yesterday.

OK, it might be possible to go round a short and flat course a few times, but as we were to find out, Kirkhill is neither short or flat, making Duncan's achievement all the more remarkable.  (Neither is it, as David's somewhat whimsical navigational skills suggested, at the top of the hill beside the church).  Kirkhill purports to be 5778 yards, Par 70 off the yellow tees and although there were 3 temporary greens in operation, the fairways were pretty saturated and the steady rain on the front 9 didn't help either.  Unlike many other hilly courses I've played, the Kirkhill course seems to go up and down several times rather than, as at Lothianburn for example (our former club in Edinburgh) involve one long climb up and a steady descent.   Accordingly, Kirkhill was pretty demanding physically and was playing a lot longer than it looked on the card.

The first couple of holes (a par 5 and a short par 4) are straight uphill, so Kirkhill gets your attention pretty quickly.  We'd both played at North Berwick and the Glen in recent days on links greens that were running fast and smooth, so it took us a while (all 18 holes in my case!) to adjust to the slowness of Kirkhill's greens.  The course is pretty high up and exposed to the elements and it's still only February, so it's understandable that the greens should be markedly slower than we were used to, with the grass being kept that crucial bit longer to protect against frost etc. damage.  However, I was finding it really difficult to judge putts and was out in a very poor 47 (11 over par) after a series of missed short putts, poor play in the rain and finding the odd bunker or three en route.  

The rain went off on the 10th tee, the wet suit jacket was stowed away and I'd run out of excuses, so it was a relief to post 6 successive 4's, even if that did include a couple of bogeys on the par 3 10th and 14th holes.  We both thought that the back 9 was particularly good.  The 10th was playing to about 120 yards off a forward tee and again, the slow pace of the green led to a bogey.  The 11th was a 340 yard uphill Par 4, as shown here.  I'd hit my drive just short of the whin bushes on the left, but David, being longer off the tee, lost 2 balls left and right of the fairway and gave himself a 9.  The second shot was blind over a hill but at least I'd had an easy par.  Another followed on the excellent 12th, a 403 yard par 4.  I'd failed to clear a hill 250 or so yards out from the tee, so had another blind shot to a small green.  Another par. 

This is David walking to his drive on the 13th, some 40 yards in front of mine (as usual!) I'd hit an easy 7 iron to the front of the green expecting it to run on, only for the ball to stick in standing water not visible from the fairway, but another easy par.  I should have birdied the downhill 359 yard 15th but left my 4 foot putt short.  We agreed that Kirkhill's signature hole and card wrecker was the 16th, a 145 yard par 3 named "Burn" - a bit of a clue that water's involved, David.  I'd seen the hole coming down the 15th, but David was blissfully aware that his drive needed to clear a fast flowing river in a dip below the front of the green.  I was all too aware of that fact, hence my lost ball and double bogey.  This is the 16th, with the old clubhouse on the left, now a private house, sold under a deal that enabled the club to build an impressive new clubhouse.

We both agreed that the 17th and 18th were also great holes.  The 17th is an uphill (again!) par 5 of 459 yards, playing much longer due to the saturated fairway.  We halved the hole to par.  The 18th was my own favourite hole on the course, a 442 yard downhill par 4.  I'd hit a long (well, for me anyway) drive and had a 7 wood to the green, assuming I could clear the burn flowing in front of the green.  However, I mishit the shot slightly leaving a lob wedge over the big tree that protected the right of the green and ended up with a double bogey 6 after under-hitting a putt.  David had gone down the 1st fairway, but hit a great second shot to 15 feet to win the match by 2 up. 

I'd done the back 9 in a reasonable 40 so I ended up with an 87, net 77, or 7 over net par.  Although I only had 31 putts, many were from short distances and I don't think I holed anything longer than 6 feet all day.  I guess I could have scored better had the greens been quicker, but I'd still enjoyed the course and would strongly recommend it if you're in the area.  You might find many flatter courses, but you'll be hard pushed (and very lucky) to find a friendlier club than Kirkhill.  Even when we dropped into the 19th for a lunchtime refreshment, a kindly member and the bar steward paid for our drinks and we were presented with miniature bottles of the club's whisky as souvenirs of our visit.   It's that kindness which I'll remember from my visit to Kirkhill, long after I've forgotten the poor round I had and the lost ball at the 16th.  Craig and Stu have still to play here and hope to do so later in the year - they're in for a treat when they do.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Duke's St Andrews - Course no 373

Polly and I played this excellent and demanding heathland course a couple of miles inland of St Andrews on 15 February 2011.  I'd been hoping to play the Duke's as my 400th new course, but as Polly was due to attend a business dinner on the 14th, we took the opportunity to stay at Russack's Hotel overlooking the Old Course, and play the Duke's the following morning.  We both played the Duke's pretty well but the most remarkable shot of the day was undoubtedly by a hacker playing from the 1st tee off the Old Course while we were having our breakfast.  Now I'm no expert on the golf swing, but I do know that a Reverse C played at warp speed is unlikely to yield the desired result on a regular basis.  Accordingly, I'm not sure how the ball managed to just miss his left ankle and trickle only a few feet behind his somewhat uncomfortable looking address position.   Thankfully, his walk of shame was short and brief, but from the reaction of his 3 playing partners, I suspect he'll not be allowed to forget the day he played the Old Course. "On the tee..and still on the tee..."  To his credit, his second shot as slightly better and at least looked as though he might have played the game before.

The Duke's ranges between a daunting 7512 yards off the professional Black tees to a more modest 5216 yards for the ladies Red tees.  Being the mug that I am, I opted for the White medal tees, which at 6550 yards, par 71, was a pretty formidable test given the cold and heavy conditions.  I'd been quite warm walking around the town after breakfast, but the Duke's is set on an exposed hilly site with impressive views down to the town and the sea beyond, so the temperature was well down and a two-jumper wind was blowing in off the sea.  Added to that, there had been heavy rain in recent days so the fairways were very wet underfoot, with almost no run.  Like most Scottish inland courses at this time of year, the greens were slow, a bit bumpy and very difficult to read.

Just to make things more interesting still, the Pro had advised us that the course was played in reverse order during the Winter, with holes 10-18 forming the front 9 and holes 1-9 as the back 9.  We didn't think to ask why this was done and we were none the wiser after playing the course.  If anything, the "Winter" order seemed pretty natural, since the 9th hole finished immediately below the clubhouse windows, whereas the 18th finished lower down the hill out of sight from the clubhouse windows and left a long and steeply uphill walk to the 1st hole teeing ground.  To keep things simple, I'll go through the round as we played it, starting at the 10th. This is a slightly downhill 400 yard par 4 dog leg left and a good strong opener, with OOB to the right and a burn running across the fairway, as shown above, to catch any mishit second shot.  I played the hole pretty well, just missing the green in 2, but walking off with a 6 after completely misjudging the speed of the green.  I'm not sure what the Stimp meter reading would have been.  Maybe a 3, but to be fair, the Duke's course is pretty high up and greens like these have to be cut conservatively to protect them against potential  frost damage.  After that bad start, the 11th turned out to be a 552 yard Par 5, playing to nearer 600 yards into the cold wind, Stroke Index 1.  I was happy enough to board the green in 4 shots, avoiding some huge bunkers and another burn protecting the green, but 3-putted from no great distance to go 4 over par after only 2 holes.  The 12th is an uphill 189 yard Par 3 that plays a lot longer than it looks.  Sadly, my 7 wood was just short of the green, leaving a 60 foot uphill putt.  Another 3 shots from there, so still no sign of a par to get the round going!

It's then a long walk to the 13th hole, a downhill 386 yard Par 4.  The pin was on the right side of the shallow-looking green, as shown here, so I played an 8 iron to the centre of the green and managed to avoid another 3-putt for my first par of the round.  I also parred the 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th to go out in 41 against the par of 35, but at least I had repaired most of the damage incurred by my poor start to the round. The 1st is a good 479 yard downwind flat par 5.  I'd just missed the green in 3 and hit a wedge to 4 feet.  I'd like to think I'm a good enough putter to be able to knock in the odd straight 4-footer without too much trouble.  However, my confidently-hit putt veered hard left for another bogey, with worse to come on the 2nd.  Still, it had looked pretty good in the air! The 2nd is a formidable 437 yard Par 4 and I missed the fairway off the tee after blocking the drive close to trees on the right.  I gambled with my 7 wood from a dodgy lie, only to find a bunker 100 yards out and walked off with a double bogey after another 3 putt, this time from inside 20 feet.  

The 3rd hole is a 152 yard par 3, Stroke Index 18.  This is Polly, preparing to tee off.  The bunkering at the Duke's was good in general, but I'm still not sure about the insertion of large waste areas as bunkers, as on the 3rd and elsewhere and the deliberately ragged edges to all bunkers, which rather oddly reminded me of the "natural" bunkering at Machrihanish Dunes. That type of bunkering suits links courses, but I think that more manicured edges to bunkers that are typically found in parkland or heathland courses might have made the Duke's bunkering look more in harmony with  the surrounding landscape.  Maybe I took the 3rd too lightly, as my 6 iron found one of these bunkers and I'd bogeyed another hole.  By this time the wind had got stronger and it was even colder, to the point that we were quite uncomfortable.  Maybe that's why I missed the fairway from the 4th tee (for only two missed in the whole round).  The 4th should be a relatively easy 375 yard par 4 but I ended up with a double bogey after missing a short putt that bobbled all over the place (if that's technically possible from inside 3 feet!)

I particularly liked the gently uphill 6th, a 525 yard Par 5 played into the wind (Craig - 596 yards for you mate, off the Black Tee!)  This is a view from the green down to St Andrews.  I missed another short putt here, so another bogey.  The 7th is another very good hole and at 435 yards Par 4, was well beyond my range in 2 shots, given the underfoot conditions.  Even so, I didn't enjoy yet another 3-putt, this time for a double bogey.  The Par 3 8th should be relatively easy, but the hole is uphill and plays a lot further than it looks - another double bogey!  Thankfully, we'd reached our last hole, the 9th.  It had taken us the thick end of 4 hours and a good 7 miles of walking up and down hills.  At least it had stayed dry, but we were pretty cold and beaten up by the course by the time we finished.  I bogeyed the last to come home in a poor 49, for a 90 total, net 80.  I'd gone round in 9 over net par after 3-putting 3 times and missing a number of short putts that I'd normally hole.  I'd driven really well and hit some good fairway woods and iron shots, so my final score was disappointing.  Maybe I should have waited until later in the year to play the Duke's, since such inland courses are not at their best during the Winter months.  Still, playing the Duke's was an enjoyable experience. I hope I'll get another chance to play it sometime in warmer conditions.  I'd strongly recommend the course, but be aware it's a long walk, even if you're playing well.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Cowglen GC - Course no 372

I played this excellent 18 hole parkland course on the South side of Glasgow on 8 February 2011. Cowglen was the closest golf course to where I lived until I left home aged 20, to find fame and fortune in London (and failed dismally!) As I mentioned in my first posting, I'd thought as a kid that golf was for folk with more money than we had, but had it been possible at the time, it's likely that I would have joined Cowglen as a junior. I do remember the thought that if I ever took up golf, I'd play this course one day but it's certainly taken me a very long time to fulfill that old ambition. I must have passed Cowglen many thousands of times on the Number 48 bus en route to the city centre or to college. The course is within a mile of my former secondary school and is also overlooked by an office block where my mother worked in the 1960's, so in a sense, this was more than just another new course on my way round Scotland, it was the fulfillment of that old ambition. I really enjoyed this course and spent much of the round musing on what I'd missed over the years.

Cowglen is a gently undulating parkland course playing to 5867 yards, par 70, off the Yellow tees. Some Winter tees were in operation, some of the greens had been hollow-tined and as I had been advised by the Pro, the Par 3 9th hole was being rested, with a temporary Par 3 hole, played to the normal practice putting green, inserted after the 16th. There had been some heavy rain recently, so there was little run on the fairways and I was dropping the ball to the side of the fairways as part of the club's Winter upkeep. So, I reckoned that a net 70 would be a pretty good score.

Cowglen starts with a flat 420 yard Par 4. With no run on the fairway, I was still just short of the green after a solid driver and 3 wood approach. The green was pretty slow, having been hollow-tined, and I bogeyed the hole. A good drive at the 319 yard Par 4 second left me with a blind sand iron over a hillock, but a steadying par here and another at the 346 yard Par 4 3rd, named "Glen." Cowglen was founded in 1906, the same year as my own club, the Glen GC, but the hole reflects the lie of the land, rather than an early linkage between the 2 clubs. I'd caught up with a 3-ball in front and watched them playing their drives at the 4th, the Par 4 337 yard Stroke Index 1 hole. This was still a really testing hole despite the Winter tee reducing it to something nearer 310 yards. Above is the view from where my drive finished, comfortably left of the fairway and around 60 yards short of the green. Overhanging branches were an obvious problem, but there was also a hidden dip in front of the green, with a water hazard ready to collect any attempted pitch and run. I tried a low 8 iron pitch to the front of the green, only to hit the silver birch on the right. I then hit a good wedge to within 10 feet, but missed the putt for what would have been an outrageous par. Possibly my favourite hole on the course. This the view back to the 4th from the path up to the 5th tee. The 5th is a short Par 3, leading to stretch of 3 long holes that require good drives from elevated tees. The Par 4 6th plays even longer than its 435 yards, so thanks to the friendly greenkeeper for conceding my bogey putt from 3 feet! I parred the 7th OK, and had a few minutes to ponder this, the view from the elevated 8th tee. The 8th is a 489 yard Par 5, also playing longer than it looked, but at least I'd hit a good approach with a 9 iron to set up an easy par. Since the 9th was being rested, I was out in 36 against the par of 32, so not too bad a round so far. The guys in front kindly let me play through on the uphill Par 4 10th and despite playing fast to get out of their way, I managed another good par. The 11th is another great driving hole from an elevated tee, but apologies are due to the 2 other guys standing on the 10th tee! That slice cost me a double bogey. I'd lived near this course from 1950-1970 and passed it thousands of times, so why the 12th is named "Racecourse" escapes me. The 12th is a good Par 3 of 176 yards with a small green cut into the side of a steep slope. I'd not bought a Stroke Saver course guide, so didn't know about the hidden bunker that stops the obvious shot played to the right that would otherwise roll onto the green, so that was another bogey on the card.

Still, that hole started a run of 4's on the card, including a birdie at the 480 yard par 5 14th hole, shortened considerably by a Winter tee. I should have parred the 16th, a 157 yard Par 3, but 3-putted from 30 feet. As advised by the Pro, the extra hole on the back 9, substituting for the 9th came into play next. This was a downhill hole of around 120 yards, which I was lucky to bogey after a poor 9 iron. I also bogeyed the Par 4 17th, another excellent driving holes, so I needed a par up the last for a net 69.
The 18th was a 397 yard slightly uphill par 4, shortened slightly by a Winter tee. I hit my best drive of the day, followed by a slightly hooked 9 iron to the left of the green and a lob wedge to 5 feet, as shown here. The 18th turned out to be the fastest green on the course, with my par putt nearly running off the green. Thankfully I holed the return, so I'd gone round in 80, net 70, with 31 putts. I hope that it doesn't take me another 40 odd years to play here again. Mind you, I'd settle for an 80 if that happens, as by then I'd be at least 101! This is a really good course with some great driving holes and I'd strongly recommend it.