Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Bridgend and District GC - Course no 378

I played this little course near to Linlithgow on 2 March 2011.  I was particularly keen to play here as the course is currently up for sale, with a recent news release giving the following details -

You don’t have to be a billionaire like Donald Trump to own your own golf course. And there are no endless planning enquiries and millions of pounds of investment required to buy the Bridgend and District Golf Club, by Linlithgow, which is on the market through DMH Baird Lumsden at offers over £295,000. The nine-hole golf course, which was founded in 1994 with a par of 34 is set in around 39 acres and also comprises a purpose-built clubhouse of just under 5,100 square feet with a large reception area and adjoining offices, bar lounge with restaurant, dancing area and all the other amenities you might expect in a modern golf club.  In addition, the clubhouse has an extensive attic area of just over 2,500 square feet within the roof structure which has been designed to allow easy conversion to additional accommodation subject to required consents. Linlithgow, with its impressive royal palace and an extensive range of social, shopping, sporting and transport facilities, is only three miles west of Bridgend, a residential village with its own primary school and local shop.  The golf club is situated on the west side of the village and has fine views over the adjoining countryside and across the Forth. The surrounding land is mainly agricultural and to the south stands the impressive landmark, Cockleroy Hill.  Duncan Fergusson of DMH Baird Lumsden, who is marketing the club on behalf of its 130 members, said: “The course and the clubhouse offer an exciting opportunity for a golf course operator or a private individual who is fanatical about the game, to buy and operate it on a commercial basis. In addition the extensive attic space could be converted subject to the required consents to form first-class residential accommodation.”

Although the course is described as having 9 holes, the 2nd green is played as a 200 yard Par 3 (2nd hole) and as a 262 yard par 4 (11th hole).  Under the definitions that Craig, Stu and I play to in our all-courses challenge, this makes Bridgend an 18 hole course measuring 5076 yards, Par 67, off the Yellow tees.  Although the course was still showing signs from the tough Winter we've had and was still pretty wet underfoot, I really enjoyed playing here.  I imagine that there's a limited market for such a property but I hope that someone with the necessary vision buys it and that it survives as a local amenity for the village and surrounding district.  The layout is pretty good and the holes just get better as you go round. 

I played Bridgend by putting 2 balls in play from each tee (and a single ball from the 2nd and 11th tees) rather than walk the course twice, in line with the way we'd played the Benbecula course and others that have 9 greens and more than 9 tees (the first ball counts for the front 9 and the second for the back 9 holes, saving on time and energy).  However, Bridgend has some tricky holes, so don't try this unless the course is as quiet as I found it.

Hole1/10 is an uphill 344 yard par 4, that plays a lot longer than it looks.  Trees to the left make the opening drive quite testing and my hooked tee shot contributed to an opening bogey.  I found the fairway with my second ball but again underestimated the distance to the green, so another bogey there.  The 2nd is a 200 yard par 3 and the 11th is a 262 yard par 4, both played to the 2nd green.  The fairway was saturated so with no run, I bogeyed both holes.  Hole 3/12 is a 129 yard downhill par 3, as shown here.  The green is quite shallow, but I managed a couple of pars after holding the green with good wedge shots.

Hole 4/13 is a 294 yard par 4, played blind over a hill with the small green tucked away to the right, with OOB behind, bushes to the right and trees obstructing any drive to the right of the fairway .  I'd hit good straight drives, but each was embedded in its own plug mark, given the wet fairway.  I escaped with a couple of bogeys but the positioning of the green means these are tricky holes.  Hole 5/14 is a 160 Yard downhill par 3 with OOB on the right for anything wayward.  A par and a bogey were OK.  Next were the formidable Stroke Index 1 and 2 holes, a steeply uphill 401 yard Par 4.  With no run, I couldn't reach the green in 2 shots either time, so another couple of bogeys.  Hole 7/16 is named "Gambler's Corner" and is a steeply downhill dog leg right 384 yard par 4 with a couple of water hazards crossing the fairway.  The green is tucked away behind trees that limit options for anything hit to the right from the tee and the green is anything but flat, so a 6 and a 5 went onto the card.  Hole 8/17 is back up the hill and at only 279 yards, Par 4, should be easy enough.  However, there's a hidden water hazard about 220 yards off the tee, so you need to be careful.

Hole 9/18 is a downhill 316 yard Par 4, dog leg right, finishing in front of the impressive modern clubhouse, with more water hazards to avoid.  For me, these were the best holes on the course.  The fairway is narrow, with OOB all the way down the right side and trees to the left.  I'd hit 2 decent drives and had only a wedge to the green each time, but the green is shallow and there's a bunker hidden right behind it.  Closing bogeys were disappointing, but I'd gone round in 81, net 71, or 4 over the net par.

Like the other inland parkland courses I've played recently, the greens at Bridgend were understandably on the hairy and slow side.  I normally putt with a Ping Anser 4 that I've had for at least 15 years, with an even older Ping Pal gathering dust in the garage.  The Pal has a brass head that's quite a bit heavier than the Anser 4 and I hadn't carried it for many years, but I thought I'd give it a try.  I still had 32 putts going round Bridgend, but at least I was getting the ball up to the hole easier so the Pal might get a run, at least until the Spring helps to speed up the greens I'm playing!

Bridgend is a good wee course.  You might not want to get the cheque book out immediately afterwards, but come the Spring this will be a good way to spend an hour or so.  The clubhouse is good too.

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