Polly and I played here with Gordon, an old friend of mine, on 4 July 2011, yet another stiflingly hot sunny day. I'd first played with Gordon a few years ago at The Machrie course on Islay, where he has a house. He'd blisters from new golf shoes, so we both played this excellent links course in our bare feet. Try it if you want more stability and less sway in your swing when hitting the ball - it really works, especially if like me at the time, you tended to drag your right foot through the shot. I mention that snippet as yet again, Gordon had new golf shoes. They didn't help his game much, but at least this pair appeared to fit!
Cowal is an 18 hole 5791 yard (off the Yellow tees) Par 69 course, which, like some others that flank the River Clyde estuary is a moderately hilly heathland course with peat-based soil that can be prone to flooding in wet weather. Indeed, the course was susprisingly soft underfoot, even in comparison to the nearby Innellan course that I'd played earlier in the day. With hills come views and this is the 1st green, with the Clyde in the background. The first 4 holes are all pretty tricky, with the 3rd, steeply uphill with a stream running down through the middle of the fiarway and a second shot that's longer than it looks being particularly hazardous. I'd started, bogey, double bogey, par, par, so not too bad if I could make a run of pars.
This is the 5th, a 177 yard Par 3, played downwind (such as it was). I'd only carried a half set of clubs given the heat and the hills, so my 7 wood looked to be about right. As Gordon said after I'd played and gone 20 yards past the left side of the green into heavy rough and an unplayable lie, this hole plays much shorter than it looks, hence the double bogey. There was little run on the fairways due to the damp underfoot conditions, but I'd seriously over-clubbed on that simple looking hole. Not good.
I did at least par the 6th and 7th and birdie the 166 yard Par 3 9th to go out in a reasonably good 39 (5 over) but I wasn't hitting my irons well and although I'd had 4 single putts on the front 9, the greens were tricky to read. Some were really fast whilst others were less so, and my scoring quickly unravelled on the back 9, with successive three-putting on holes 10-12. I parred the 425 yard Par 4 13th, the Stroke Index 1 hole, but disaster struck on the 15th where I took an ugly 9. In mitigation, I was getting tired in the heat and my poor iron play finally gave way to an awful sh---, but at least I'd saved the ignomony of double figures after a good single putt! The club had sold some of the land on the 18th Hole to a local developer for housing and pending a remodelling of that hole the 16th was being placed twice in order to achieve an 18 hole round. I'd parred the 16th first time round, but obviously didn't learn much as my final hole was another double bogey. I'd stumbled to a poor 49 on the back 9 for a total of 88, net 78, with 32 putts, so a disappointing round overall. I'd also lost to Polly, so she now led 4-3 in our Summer series. We both liked the Cowal course, despite being bitten by some midges on the way round. It's a good test.