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.

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