Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Colvend GC - Course no 416

Polly and I played this excellent 18 hole parkland course on 20 June 2011.  Colvend is on the Solway Coast south of Dumfries and although short at only 5036 yards, Par 69, this is quite a tricky course, with some testing hills, blind shots, hidden water hazards and small greens to catch the unwary (or unfit!).  Indeed, the course imposes itself on you from the 1st, a severely uphill 251 yard par 4.  This is the view back down to the car park and clubhouse, with the 10th fairway beyond.  I'd hit a decent drive but it was still a long way up to the green.  I'd left some of my longer irons behind in the garage to lighten my bag, so it was the trusty 7 wood again.  Luckily I found the green and managed to sink the 10 foot putt for an opening birdie.

This is a view of the 3rd green from the fairway, with the Solway Firth in the background.  The 3rd is the first of a few blind holes at Colvend.  There's a fairway marker visible from the tee, but with trouble on both sides, the drive requires a steady nerve rather than distance.  The 3rd hole is only 341 yards, Par 4, but miss the fairway and (in my case) overhit your pitch to the green at your peril.  I needed a good pitch down a steep slope and a long uphill putt to make my Par.  It was an almost windless day, thank goodness, because this hole is particularly high and exposed to the elements.

I suspect that local knowledge really helps at this course, as several of the problems are hidden from the tee and there's no course guide or map on the card.  For example, the 8th is an innocent looking 178 yard Par 3, with only one small bunker and OOB behind the green visible from the tee.  However, there's a hidden water hazard in front of the green with a closely-mown bank ready to deflect anything underhit back into the hazard.  Unfair?  Not when the card says that the hole is called "The Burn" (Scots for a stream or river).  I was reading the score card even more carefully after my bogey at this hole!  However, a good  single putt on the steeply uphill 286 yard Par 4 9th and I was out in 37, or 4 over Par.

Where the front 9 had been hilly and very short, the back 9 was 450 yards longer and flatter, but with some really serious water hazards.  For example, this is a view of the 12th green, from the right of the fairway.  This is an excellent 399 yard Par 4, with a blind tee shot over a small rise in the fairway.  The card said the hole was named "Water Hole" - a good clue, as it turned out!  I'd hit a decent drive and taken my 7 wood up the left of the fairway, missing the 2 large ponds and enabling me to score an easy par.  Polly had gone up the right and from where this photo was taken, lost a couple of (old) balls.

This is a view of the 18th green and the last of the hidden water hazards.  The 18th is an uphill 266 yards Par 4, finishing as all good closing holes should, in front of the clubhouse windows.  Like the 8th, the bank in front of the 18th green slopes back to the water, but I was lucky that my slightly underhit sand iron second shot just held on the bank and I scored an easy par after a good pitch and run to under a foot. I'd never heard of Colvend GC before, but it was a real find and a course I'd happily play again. I'd gone round in 77, less 10 for a 2 under-par net 67, with only 27 putts on very good  true-running greens.

However, if I ever get back here, I must remember that the tee shot from the 17th is not a driver!  It was either the warm sun (yes, in Scotland!) or my thought Polly might need  driver from her own tee, way to the right of this, the slightly intimidating view from the men's tee.  The 17th is a 266 yard sharp dog leg left (hence it's name on the scorecard "Roon the Bend") so something like a 7 iron and easy wedge would have been ample.  Instead, my driver cleared the line of trees in the middle of the picture, ending up in the middle of the 9th fairway.  Believe me my bogey from there was pretty good, but a driver?  Not unless you're brave enough to carry the high trees to the left and know exactly where you're going.  Local knowledge again, but as a visitor, take your 7 iron!

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