Monday, 18 July 2011

Alford GC - Course no 428

Polly and I played here on 12 July 2011 after we'd played with some friends at Dunblane New GC the day before.  Alford is a very flat 18 hole parkland course in rural Aberdeenshire, measuring a modest 5111 yards off the Yellow tees, Par 69.  The heavy rain over recent days that had had such devastating effects on the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart had also affected Alford and we heard that some houses in the village had been flooded, which is a real shame.  The course, being so flat and low-lying is apparently prone to flooding and had only re-opened for play on the 12th after being closed for a few days.  A surveyor was busy at work as we played to investigate ways of improving the course drainage, but with the surrounding land being so flat, I suspect that it might be difficult and expensive to make significant improvements.  The Pro had advised that the course might still be saturated underfoot but although there was little run on the fairways and the odd puddle remaining, the course was remarkably dry and playable.  The  greens were also in excellent condition, so we had a really enjoyable round.

With only one Par 5 (a flat 501 yards) and Par 4s ranging from only 260 to 385 yards,  Alford isn't anything like as difficult as other courses we'd played recently.  From the 1st Tee, also the "highest" point on the course, I was hitting the ball well.  I had an easy par at the short 260 yard Par 4 Ist and an unlucky bogey at the 2nd after my ball got stuck in a greenside puddle.  I'd just missed the green with my tee shot at the 158 yard Par 3 3rd, but chipped in for a birdie.  I'd reached the turn in 38, or 4 over par and had set the the target of keeping a 6 or worse off my card.  We both found the course a bit bland after our recent rounds over more dramatic courses, but what Alford lacked in drama it made up for by being in super condition, with it's own quirkiness.  There are a few courses that run alongside railway lines and some that are split by railway lines, but I can't think of any other courses where a narrow gauge line runs so close to the play, right through the course.  This is me on the 144 yards Par 3 16th, waiting for the local train (popular with tourists) to pass within feet of the green and along the side of the adjacent 13th fairway. 

I bogeyed  the 16th and not because of that unique distraction.  I'd missed the green to the right narrowly avoiding a water hazard, but with only 2 holes left, I was only 7 over and hadn't taken a 6 or worse.  I bogeyed the 17th after three-putting from no great distance and did exactly the same on this, the 18th hole.  I'd beaten the net par by a couple of shots, going round in 77, net 67, with 33 putts, avoiding a 6 or worse.  However, this was a score on a forgiving course that could and should have been much lower.  We'd certainly enjoyed the course and the novelty of close-passing trains, but with so many to choose from, I doubt I'll play the course again.

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