Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Carluke GC - Course No 393

I played this excellent 18 hole parkland course on 12 April 2011.  Carluke is 5606 yards off the Yellow tees, Par 69 and a meatier 5936 yards off the Medal tees.  I played it off the Yellows on a bright but showery day (in a strong cold wind that made scoring tricky).  This was to be a day of dodging the rainclouds that thankfully swept past the course during my round (but see my blog on New Course No 392). There were a few gentle slopes to content with on the front 9, but my favourite hole on that part of the course was this, the 159-yard Par 3.  It's a shame that when I played the course the trees were not yet in bloom, since I imagine that this hole must be pretty intimidating, with such large trees protecting the green. 

Even so, my 3 iron (played in preference to my usual 7 wood in an effort to keep the ball lower into the wind) hit one of the sentry trees, leaving me this interesting pitch between 2 trees.  I bogeyed the hole, but this hole is a potential card-wrecker.  The 9th is another very good hole.  This is a 478 yard  Par 5, played downwind, with a blind tee shot over a hill.  Thankfully the 2 guys playing in front of me hadn't reached the 10th fairway, since I'd hit a really wayward drive.   The green was just about reachable, but a water hazard running across in front of the green prompted the sensible lay-up.  An easy pitch and a couple of putts later and I'd secured the par and gone out in 41.   6 over par, but not bad.

The back 9 at Carluke is only 2606 yards, but  is outstanding, with a succession of really good holes.  The terrain is more varied, for a start, but the wind added to the interest.  The course as a whole is relatively exposed and I suspect that wind is a frequent factor here.  The 10th was an uphill 310 yards, played to an elevated green.  I'd needed driver and 7 iron to reach the front of the green, but managed a comfortable par.  My favourite hole at Carluke was next.  The 11th is a 124 yard Par 3 played downhill to a narrow gorge, with OOB and a stream right behind the well-bunkered green, as shown here.  I'd gambled on an easy wedge since the wind was coming from almost directly behind me.   My tee shot finished 3 feet short, directly in line and I'm ashamed to say I missed the easy birdie putt.  The greens at Carluke were amazingly good for an inland course so early in the season.  Indeed, the whole course was in fine condition and far better than I'd expected, given the tough Winter that we've all had.

The 12th is called "Hill o'Hope" and is a really tricky 228 yard Par 4.  This is the view from the tee, with a stream cutting in from the right, trees to the left and goodness knows what lying over the brow of the hill in front of the tee.  Being inherently adventurous (i.e. stupid) I opted against an exploratory walk that would have led me to exercise more caution from the tee.  No, I simply hit an easy 7 wood up the left side.  This quickly ran out of fairway, leaving me in deep rough, almost blocked out by some bushes, with the green perched at the top of an improbably steep hill.  As I was to find out, there's also OOB close behind the green.  How my wedge managed to clamber its way over the hill and stop before going out of bounds I'm really not sure, but what a great little hole.  No doubt some big hitters would go directly for the green, but if they do, the OOB awaits.  Just to make it more interesting, the collar of light rough that prevented my ball from exiting the course sits above the green, which slopes steeply back towards the fairway.  I hit what I thought would be a good lob wedge, only to see it roll right through the green and almost go down the steep hill.  Who needs long and boring Par 4s?  I escaped with a bogey and was thankful for it.

The 13th is an uphill 276 yard Par 4 with a plateau green well defended by a huge tree.  The second shot is blind, over or around the tree, but there's a nasty bunker right in front of the green (note to self - buy a stroke saver, you muppet!), so that was an avoidable double bogey.

This is the 16th, the last of the Par 3s.  At 162 yards slightly uphill, it's made more difficult by the OOB beyond the fence on the right.  Factor in the strong cross wind blowing towards the OOB and this was a seriously narrow hole.  The green also slopes steeply from back left to front right.  I was happy enough with a 4, having played my tee shot 40 yards left of the OOB only to have the wind blow it to within a yard of the fence. Carluke has one more trick up its sleeve.  The 18th  is a dog leg right 312 yard Par 4 slightly uphill.  The bunker-like feature to the left of the fairway, as viewed from the tee, is actually a roadway and for me at least was out of range given that the hole played directly into the wind.  The real trick is that the clubhouse windows overlook the 18th green.  Indeed, any really poor second and subsequent shots could be pretty embarrassing (and expensive).  The course had been quite busy so there were a good few folk watching me tackle the 18th.  Thankfully I holed a 15 foot uphill putt for my closing par.

I'd gone round in 83, net 73, or net 3 over par, with 32 putts.  Carluke is a seriously good course and was in great condition when I played it.  Play it if you ever get the chance and enjoy, just as I did!  

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