Friday, 25 February 2011

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.

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