Monday, 21 March 2011

Leadhills GC - Course no 383

I played this remote 9 hole moorland course above the village of Leadhills in the Borders hills on 21 March 2011.  The course is easy to find but take care, as the single track approach road is in terrible condition!  At over 1,500 feet above sea level, this is officially the highest course in Scotland and is built on land that still shows traces of long-closed lead mining in the area.  This is the modest clubhouse.  Leadhills is short, at only 2084 yards, Par 33 off the Yellow tees.  Although there had been high wind warnings for all Scottish mainland road bridges and it was far from calm when I played, there was certainly none of the wild weather that can trouble this very exposed course.  The course was also showing some of the effects of the Winter, with the tiny greens being particularly difficult to find, hold and putt on.  Despite that, I managed a decent score going round in 36, or 3 over par, with a couple of birdies, so not too shabby. 

The 3rd is a downhill and blind 135 yard Par 3.  This is a view of the green.  I'd played an easy 8 iron and miraculously (given the roughness of the green) holed out from 12 feet for an unlikely 2.  The landscape really is as bleak as the photo suggests, fit only for sheep (hence the abundance of their droppings across the course) and dedicated golfers.  Leadhills GC survives only thanks to the hard work of its members, so well done to them for keeping the sport going in such a remote and testing environment.   Winters up there must be pretty hard. 

This the 8th green, a hole named "Highest Tee" for obvious reasons.  The 8th was a downhill 229 yard Par 4, but needed a driver into the wind and a short pitch to leave a tricky 15 foot putt with 3 feet of break from the left.  The greens had been tined recently and were pretty bumpy, so I was delighted to birdie that hole, from the highest tee in Scotland.  The highest green in Scotland is the 9th, an uphill 206 yard Par 3 (into the prevailing wind, often at gale force, this would be a formidable test).  I bogeyed the 9th after going through the back (and another 3 feet higher!) with my second shot. 

I've now played the highest, the lowest (surely Garmouth and Kingston - unless you know better), the most westerly (Barra) and we're playing the most northerly and easterly (Whalsay) in June 2011.  That will leave only the most southerly (St Medans) and many in between.  There's still a long way to go, but Leadhills was a significant marker towards our final target. 

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