I'd played the outstanding heathland course at Lanark GC some years ago with my friend Martin and had fond memories of the round, which Martin won quite comfortably. Although Lanark is a heathland course, it plays more like a links in the Summer and is in my view one of the best inland courses in Scotland. The last hole finishes right in front of the clubhouse bar windows, with the green perched on a shelf with a steep bank off to the left. Martin was playing off 8 or so at the time, but had the yips with his pitching wedge, such that he'd often hit it far too hard, the ball careering through the green into whatever undergrowth etc. lay in wait. On that particular day, Martin's approach to the green had finished around 10 feet below the green to the left, leaving him with a steep bank to negotiate, before a small gallery of club members watching from the bar. Indeed, from where his ball had finished, only the top of the flag was visible, with the bar windows in view alarmingly close behind. Now Martin is blessed with a lovely languid rhythm to his swing and being quite tall and lean, he looked the part. However, his chip up the bank was nothing like his elegant practice swing and sure enough, his ball bulleted over the green, hit the clubhouse window frame, bounced back onto the green and trickled back to his feet. His next failed to climb the bank at all and if memory serves, a sh--- was next, but at least he was finally on the green. The obligatory 3 putt followed, much to the amusement of the ghouls hovering by the bar window. It was a warm day, so I wasn't going to miss out on a cooling beer, though I suspect Martin could happily have missed the opportunity to meet his audience. Luckily, he has a great sense of humour!
I mention all of this because there's a 9 Hole Course at Lanark that I'd not played. Lanark is only a few miles away from Douglas Water, so the 9 Hole Course was my third round on 21 March 2011. This little course is 1337 yards, Par 28, with holes ranging from 75 to 233 yards and is primarily for practice. This is a view of the 2nd hole, with some houses close behind. Since the 9 Hole Course is used by beginners, I'm not sure I'd want to live there, despite the outstanding views over the championship course.
The best hole is probably the 6th, a short 233 yard Par 4 that gives a flavour of the bigger course. As might be expected, the 9 Hole Course greens were pretty small. I managed a Par on the 6th OK, but I'd taken the opportunity to play 2 balls (this being a practice course!) and birdied the hole with my 2nd ball. However, the Par counted on the scorecard, so I was round in 31, 3 over par, with 14 putts. This is a good practice course and if you ever get the chance to play the championship course at Lanark, take the time to loosen up on the 9 Hole Course.
This is a view of the 9th hole on the little course, with the excellent clubhouse in the background. The greens had been top-dressed and played remarkably well. The championship course also looked to be in excellent condition and I'd strongly recommend a visit to Lanark GC.