As there's no fully comprehensive list of Scottish golf courses, we need to consult local golfers we meet during our travels in order to ensure we're not missing any courses. I'd heard some weeks ago that there was a small pay as you play course on a minor back road between Galashiels and Lauder in the Borders. So, after I played a round over Torwoodlee GC with some friends recently, I went exploring. Sure enough, I found a rather dilapidated driving range, golf academy and 12 hole course a few miles out of Galashiels, so I went back to play it on 28 June 2011. Although the scorecard shows that there's 12 holes, there are actually 12 greens and 14 tees, with a Par 3 and a Par 4 tee on Holes 3 and 7. Holes 1-2, 4-6 and 8-12 are all Par 3s, but with these 2 alternative tees, Meadowfield can be played either as a 12 Hole 1535 yards Par 3 course, Par 36, or as a longer course of 1775 yards,Par 38. As regular readers of this blog will know, we're trying to play every golf hole on every course, so under our rules, Meadowfield becomes a 24 hole course measuring 3310 yards, Par 74. As it was a hot sunny day and the grass pollen was giving me a real headache, I put 2 balls in play from tees 1-2, 4-6 and 8-12 and played separate balls from the 3rd/15th and 7th/19th tees. Regular readers will remember that we'd first adopted such energy and time saving tactics at Benbecula. I also adjusted my handicap from 10 to 13 since I'd be playing 24 rather than 18 holes.
There are some good local courses in the area, and given Meadowfield's rural location in farming country a few miles outside Galashiels, I'm left wondering what market this facility is serving. When I first visited it a few days ago, the place was completely deserted, apart from one guy using the driving range. Yesterday, there were 2 people using the driving range and one guy on the golf course. Maybe it gets busier at other times, but I'm afraid to say that the driving range and Portacabin that served as an office had seen better days and as I was to find out, the course also needed some significant attention.
The 1st/13th were a 110 yard Par 3, played downhill from an elderly and worn out mat. My first ball cleared the greenside bunker and finished barely a foot short of the hole, leaving me a tap in for an opening birdie. The other ball, played as the 13th Hole, bounced out of the greenside bunker and dribbled down to the back of the small steeply sloping green, so I parred that hole. The fairway grass was long and lush and since the tiny and mostly sloping greens had been cut only slightly shorter, they were extremely slow, to the point that an uphill putt of any length could stop short and a chip from off the side of the green would stop equally quickly. I landed in a few more bunkers on my way round the 24 holes, but such was the absence of any sand and the baked hard ground (when not covered by clumps of weeds or untended grass) that I only one tee shot stayed in a bunker after landing in it. I'd not seen such poor bunkers since our round at Benbecula, and this poor course maintenance coloured my view of Meadowfield. Maybe it has a future as a beginners' and children's course, but a few lorry loads of sand would help to make it look more presentable as a course.
This is a view of the short 6th/18th, a 100 yard Par 3. I birdied the 6th with a decent putt from all of 6 feet and also birdied the 12th, after chipping in from just off the green. I went round in 79 for the 24 holes, less 13 for a net 66 i.e. 8 under the Par of 74, with a total of 36 putts. Whilst this might sound impressive, the Par 3 holes ranged from 60 - 200 yards, so even if I'd missed the tiny greens with tee shots, it was easy enough to chip close, given the extreme slowness of the greens. Maybe if I lived closer to Meadowfield (a good hour's drive away) I'd give the driving range a try but I doubt I'd want to play the course again unless the bunkering was given some serious attention.