Just outside Dundee, there's a large country resort, concentrating on fishing and golf, alongside some upmarket holiday lodges and luxury private housing. I played the 9 hole parkland course there on 28 November 2011, on a blustery cold day that reminded me that the dreaded Scottish Winter is just around the corner. By this time last year, Scotland had already been struck by blizzards and golf was impossible for weeks on end, so getting a game at all yesterday was a bonus. Polly and I had tried to play at our home club (Glen GC) on the 27th, but we only lasted a few holes, such was the strength of the bitingly cold gale force wind. Only the night before (yes, I teed off at 1900!) I'd been playing in shirt sleeve weather, so it really is true that the Scottish weather can be a fickle master. To explain, I'm also Captain of the Rhodes GC, which plays its golf over the East Links in North Berwick and as it was our end of season Prize Giving night on 26 November, we used night lights and special luminous golf balls on our 1st, 2nd, 17th and 18th holes to play some Night Golf and organised a putting competition on our practice green. That 4 hole course doesn't really count as an additional new Scottish course, but if any readers are stuck for end of golf season activities, Night Golf is definitely worth a try. I'm still a wee bit embarrassed about being DQ'd under the one ball rule from the putting competition, having recorded the lowest score of 13 strokes for 6 holes with a new Titleist, (all others were playing the special luminous balls!) However, great fun was had by all, but when we tried this last year, the first snow flurries started as we finished our round and a blizzard was in full flow within minutes. No such dramas at Kingennie, which is a 9 hole parkland course, 2874 yards, Par 34 off the Yellow Tees. The full greens were still in play, but as the course was a bit damp underfoot, Winter tees were in play, shortening the course by 100 yards or so. This is the view from the back of the 1st green, with the 1st tee middle right of the picture.
I'd bogeyed the 1st, a 440 yard Par 4, and much the same was to follow on the 503 yard 2nd after I found a greenside bunker in 3 shots, needing a good single putt to rescue a bogey 6. The 3rd was an easy looking 141 yard Par 3, played downwind. I should have taken the 8 iron, as my 9 found some rough at the front of the green, so 3 over after 3 holes wasn't very impressive. I did at least get the swing going after that (maybe a warm-up would have helped, Alan!), as I did the last 6 holes in 2 over, for a gross 39, net 34. The best hole at Kingennie is probably the 6th, a 378 yard dog leg left, as shown above. The drive is semi-blind and steeply downhill, with ponds either side of the fairway and a series of bunkers to be avoided en route to a raised plateau green. You can only see part of the flag from the bottom of the fairway and the second shot plays 1-2 clubs more than it looks. I'd caught up with 3 other players and to my surprise was immediately waived through after they'd found trouble off the 6th tee. The fairway is quite narrow and with water on either side, 3 golfers to avoid and the strong wind blowing directly up the fairway, this was not the time for a weak drive. I made good swing but lost the ball in flight (played directly into the sunshine). I thought one of the guys had found my drive in the middle of the fairway, only for him to tell me that my ball was a further 30 yards or so beyond his, having missed one of the ponds by only a few feet, leaving only a 7 iron up the hill to the green. Perfect position, but more by luck than skill, as I admitted at the time. Still, a par there was a good score, as this hole is a potential card-wrecker.
The 7th is also a really good hole, as shown here. This is a 315 yard Par 4, played from an elevated tee, with the ideal drive stopping short of a roadway and a stream, leaving a full pitch to the small green. The low sun meant that it was difficult to see where the fairway ended and the green began. I played a 9 iron onto what I thought was the green, only to land on a rather muddy section of fairway in front of the actual green and a poor pitch and run from there cost me a bogey. The greens were pretty slow, as I'd expect at this time of the year, but although I'd generally missed the greens in regulation, I'd pitched close enough to leave easy putts on most greens. Indeed, I single-putted every green but the 3rd, for 10 putts in total. Sounds good, but in truth my longest putt was around 12 feet, so there's nothing fantastic about that statistic.
Kingennie is a good layout and as a parkland course would definitely be at its best during the summer months. The course owner has obtained planning permission to build an 18 hole Championship Course here that would in time almost surround the existing 9 hole course and the extensive fishing lakes and holiday lodges. Darren Clarke, Open Champion (well done again, Big Man!) will be involved in the design. Work is on hold at present given the current economic climate, but I hope that this new course is built. If and when it opens, I'd go back to play it and have another go at the 9 hole course.