I played at Larkhall on 14 October 2011 after my earlier round at nearby Wishaw GC. Larkhall is owned and operated by South Lanarkshire Council and although it's described by them as a 9 hole course, the 3rd hole is a 525 yard Par 5, played as a 438 yard Par 4 from a separate 12th tee. There's also separate tees on the 9th and 18th, but more of that later. These differences make Larkhall an 18 hole course, measuring 5742 yards, Par 70 off the Yellow tees. If anything, the Larkhall course was even wetter than at Wishaw, with pools of water on most fairways. The fairways are generously wide, but with small greens and some really muddy conditions at various places that took heavy traffic, the course was playing long. Although it was still dry when I teed off, rain was forecast for later in the day so I decided to play a couple of balls from each of the shared tees rather than go round the course twice. Regular readers of this blog will have seen that we first did this at Benbecula to save time and energy and that I've done it a few times since when playing 18 holes courses with less than 18 tees.
It was a shame that the conditions underfoot were so wet, as the course was otherwise in really good condition for the time of year. The greens were particularly good and true running and for once, my alignment was good enough to hit greens in regulation or get close enough to them to ensure easy pars. This is the 2nd/11th at Larkhall, a 143 yard Par 3. The flag was at the back of the green, but as the 1st green had been pretty soft, I went with an easy 7 iron, downwind, when playing these holes. My tee shot off the 2nd went to 4 feet, giving me my only birdie of the day.
Like most local authority courses, Larkhall caters primarily for the casual golfer who has not joined a local club and local beginners and seniors etc. As such, the set up of these courses tends to be less demanding. The Stroke Index 1 hole was the 12th and I was happy enough with my bogey there, given the wet conditions. Overall, holes 1-8 and 10-17 weren't too demanding and I was only 5 over par approaching the 9th/18th tees. Accordingly, I was pretty surprised to find that the 9th is a remarkable 481 yards Par 4, Stroke Index 10 and the 18th is a more reasonable 482 yard Par 5, but Stroke Index 9. Both holes have OOB on the right and play into the prevailing wind to their shared green. The 3rd/12th play downhill and downwind, so how the 12th merits its SI 1 status over the 9th and why the Par 5 18th is regarded as slightly more difficult than the Par 4 9th beats me, when there's only a yard between the two tees! This is the view of the clubhouse and shared green from the 9th-18th fairway. I was tempted to ask the Starter about the stroke indexing but he was busy with some customers when I passed his shop on my way back to the car. Maybe it's as well I didn't ask, as this is the oddest indexing I've seen for a long time. A decent enough course, though.
I scored a gross 78, net 68, with 28 putts, so net 2 under par was good, given the heavy conditions.