I played at Ardeer GC on 17 March 2011. This is an 18 hole parkland course in North Ayrshire measuring 5720 yards, par 69, off the Yellow tees. Although the course was in really good condition for the time of year and had medium-paced and true greens, there had been heavy rain and some snow in recent days, so the course was pretty wet underfoot, meaning that there was no run on the fairways, with some balls plugging where they landed. Ardeer is also hilly in parts, so with the wet conditions it was certainly good exercise. The lay out is really interesting, with many changes of direction and elevation, to the extent that a course map would have helped. Indeed, I'd been following a couple of guys for the opening holes only to find they'd cut in on the 7th after playing the 3rd, much to the surprise of two other guys playing the 7th at the time. Still, at least they were able to give me directions and some background on the course. It seems that Ardeer had previously played over links land nearby but had been compulsorily re-located in the 1960's to make way for a major chemicals plant. It was easy to appreciate the upheaval that this would have produced and to agree with their view that despite the heavy conditions underfoot when I played it, this would be an excellent course in Summer conditions.
Ardeer is odd, in that starts and finishes with two Par 3's of equal length (152 yards) off the Yellow tees. I'm struggling to think of any other full-length Scottish course that starts and finishes with par 3's, so would readers please use the comments box below if they know of any! This is the 1st hole, played slightly downhill and downwind. An opening bogey after under-estimating the speed of the greens, but a strong and interesting start to the round. I also liked the 5th, a largely downhill 482 yard par 5, with water and OOB on the right. I suppose there must be a few holes called "The Glen" but the name reminded of my own home course in North Berwick.
I thought the best hole at Ardeer was the 9th, a 324 yard Par 4. This hole looked innocent enough from the tee, with a wide fairway bordered by mature trees. I've been having alignment troubles recently and had even spent £15 on some day glow yellow alignment sticks. I thought I'd lined up properly, not bothering to use these sticks from the tee. However, my tee shot was too close to the trees on the right and ended up down a bank towards a serious-looking water hazard that had been hidden from the tee. I had an awful stance but it was an old ball and a lifetime 8 iron was the brave i.e. stupid choice. My ball ended up in trees to the left of the green, leaving me this interesting view. Had I known that the green is fronted by a wide moat, as shown here, I would have been a bit more cautious! I scrambled a bogey 5 from there, but the 9th is a superb hole, full of danger for the unwary (and even for members, who know what hazards await to the right and in front of the green). I'd gone out in 42, or 6 over par.
The 11th was another strong hole, a 326 yard par 4 and Stroke Index 1 on the card. The tee shot is played over the marker on the crest of a hill. This fairway was not unusually wet, but it took me ages to find the ball (ironically close to my bag!), firmly embedded in mud. Still a good 9 iron and a couple of putts for my par was pretty satisfying. I'll not forget the 14th in a hurry either. This was an unremarkable 124 yard uphill Par 3, but in getting a tee from my pocket, I managed to stab myself with the sharp point of a new pencil under a finger nail. I'm afraid that it's just as well there was no-one within earshot!
This is a view of the 18th green. My ball is actually further away than it looks (click on the photo to expand it), so I missed the birdie putt. However, an 83, net 73 (4 over net par) wasn't bad in the conditions.
Ardeer is a really good and interesting parkland course and is well worth a visit. It's understandable that most visiting golfers are attracted to the outstanding links courses nearby e.g. Royal Troon, Dundonald etc., but I really hope that more will give the smaller local courses a try, such as Ardeer and Loudon Gowf etc.