Friday, 22 July 2011

Lochmaben GC - Course no 431

Polly and I played here on 21 July 2011.  Lochmaben is an 18 hole parkland course in rural Ayrshire, playing to 5933 yards, Par 70.   We'd passed it a few weeks ago after playing at Colvend and liked what we saw, but on closer inspection, this course was slightly disappointing.  The layout is interesting, as befits a course originally designed by James Braid, with a number of holes bordering a small loch, but I'm afraid the experience did not quite live up to our expectations.  The main problem was that the greens were not in great condition.  Maybe we just caught it on a bad day, but courses relatively close to Lochmaben that I've played recently have had better greens.  It may sound trivial, but the scorecard was another irritation.  Its shiny surface meant that my pencil would not leave much of a mark and although the card did well to include Junior yardages, this meant that there was only one set of men's yardages, despite there being separate White and Yellow tees. 

Lochmaben had been a 9 hole course until it was extended in 1995.  The changes have created a reasonably good layout, but the balance of the course is odd, with the front 9 being almost 1000 yards shorter than the back 9.  I'd started reasonably enough to be 3 over after 6 holes.  This is a view of the 7th green.  The 7th was a flat and low-lying 291 yard Par 4, slight dog leg right.  I'd intended to go up the left side of the wide fairway, but poor alignment left my drive headed for tall trees protecting the corner of the dog leg.  I thought I'd cleared them, but my ball had clipped one and gone OOB, costing me a 6 at an otherwise easy looking hole.

This is the 8th, my favourite hole at Lochmaben, a 120 yard Par 3 played over a corner of the loch. Unusually, the ladies tee requires a longer carry over the water, but from the men's Yellow tee I only had a 9 iron, which seemed to cover the hole all the way. In reality, it went about 8 feet beyond the hole, but a rare single putt secured the birdie, leaving me 4 over after 8 holes.  The 9th was anorther good hole, a 295 yard Par 4 with a stream in front of the green and OOB along the right of the fairway.  I'd hit a good drive and had only an easy sand iron to the green off a perfect flat lie.  I'd have been wiser to take a different club, as I didn't make a good connection, sliced the ball into the OOB and closed with a triple bogey 7 for an outward 40.

Scoring was much harder on the back 9 given the extra yardage, made all the more difficult by the condition of the greens.  I did well not to 3 putt, but 47 on the back 9 was still disapointing.  This is the 18th green and clubhouse.  I'd just missed the last green to the right in 2 and had only a short pitch to the hole.  However, I fluffed that one in full view of some members looking out the clubhouse windows, so an unimpressive finish.  An 87, net 77, with 32 putts was eminently forgettable.  Lochmaben is a reasonably good course with some interesting holes, but I don't think I'd want to play there again.

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