Saturday, 11 June 2011

A Very Private Highlands Course - Course no 410

There exists in Scotland a course which is so private and exclusive that although the owners had very kindly agreed to give us access, they preferred that we did not name the course or give its exact location, lest this encourage others to seek permission to play it.  The owners' estate management were content for us to publish a few photographs that would be recognisable by the few golfers who have played the course, but please note that this is a very private place, so general public access to the course is not allowed under any circumstances.  Accordingly, I will simply say that this course is located on a large private estate in the Scottish Highlands.  Only the owners, estate workers and their guests can play it so Craig, Stu and I were extremely grateful for the opportunity to play the course on 6 June 2011 en route (with a significant deviation) to the Shetland Isles (where we would be playing the courses up there).    This is a view of the course (the 8th/17th green) that might give any readers familiar with the course and its surroundings the confirmation that we actually played here.

This is a parkland course, set amongst mature forest and farm land beside a river.  There are 9 greens, but since there are 18 separate tees, so it's really an 18 hole course.   The course measured a modest 4766 yards Par 67 off the Men's tees.  We'd played here on a warm sunny day with little wind, but although the course was short, our scoring was poor.  As we discovered to our cost, some fairways were extremely narrow, so we all lost balls.  There was no semi-rough to speak of and anything even remotely wayward was usually lost in thick high rough.  Added to that, the greens were slower than they looked and were soft and tricky to read.  This is the 5th, a 125 yard Par 3, played uphill to a small shelf green set between mature pine trees.  It's a more modest 108 yard hole off the 14th tee, but even at that, the green is small and shallow and as Stu found out, extremely difficult to find.

This is Hole 8/17 a par 4 of 358 and 300 yards respectively, with OOB beyond the heavy rough to the left of the fairway.  I'd hit my driver from the 8th tee, a bad move since I missed the fairway by no more than a yard and lost the ball, despite a 5 minute search in the high grass.  Even if I'd found it I doubt I'd have beaten the double bogey that my slightly wayward drive had cost me, such was the toughness of the rough.  I  managed a par on the 17th after a good single putt.  Overall, I went round in 85, net 75, or 8 over the course par.  We'd really enjoyed the course and agreed that it was a far more severe test than the scorecard had implied.  Thanks again to the owners' estate management for allowing us to play the course. 

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