Barshaw is an 18 hole parkland course on the outskirts of Paisley, owned and operated by Renfrewshire Council. Grant, my son in law, had played it a couple of times. His assessment is that it's not much of a course and after playing it on 14 November 2011, I have to agree. I'd originally intended to play at Fereneze GC in Barrhead, but when I arrived there in the late morning the clubhouse was locked. The course was open for play and there were another 30 or so cars in the car park, but no sign of anyone who could give me a scorecard or take my green fee. I even phoned the club but got no reply, so my game at Fereneze will need to wait. With under 4 hours of daylight left, it was either a wasted journey or a game at nearby Barshaw. Grant had previously advised that Barshaw's drainage is not the best and this was confirmed by 2 guys I met who had just finished playing. Indeed, one was wearing heavy work boots rather than golf shoes, commenting that the course was soaking wet (I've translated from the local dialect and deleted the expletive!)
It wasn't cold, but it was a very gloomy and cloudy day, with the kind of light that makes you think it's just about to get really dark. I'd been happy to follow the guy in front as signage at Barshaw was poor. At least the names of the holes e.g. Park View, Shelter and Farmer's Hedge gave some assurance that I'd not got lost. This cunning plan came unstuck after the 7th, when the guy in front took a short cut to the right over to what turned out to be the 12th, but the 8th was called "Summit" and sure enough, there was yellow flag on top of a hill to my left. Two other players had just finished that hole, so that gave me the chance to follow them on the back 9. Unfortunately, neither could play golf to even a moderate level, their only knowledge of the rules seeming to be that a single player i.e. me, has no status on the course. Neither appeared to be aware that they should be ready to play when it is their turn to do so and that I was waiting in the gathering gloom on almost every shot. I should perhaps have asked to play through, but I thought I'd see just how slow they could be and take my time concentrating hard on every shot.
The Barshaw course is an easy enough layout of 5703 yards off the Yellow tees, Par 68. There's a few modest hills to negotiate but there are only a couple of blind shots and the fairways are generously wide. Bunkering here is modest and the greens were slow but reasonably true, the main difficulty being the wetness of the course itself. Anything hit high risked being plugged and lost. Preferred lies were in play, so if you could find your ball in the mud, cleaning was essential. The 2 guys in front certainly cleaned their balls regularly, but usually only after their partner had played, slowing the pace of play even further.
I'd played other wet courses recently e.g. at Caprington, Palacerigg and Larkhall, so I knew that it would be vital to take a decent preferred lie, take enough club on each shot, allowing for no run on the fairways and slow greens. I parred the1st, a 363 yard Par 4, playing to almost 400 yards, as shown here, after a good pitch from 30 yards and a 4 foot single putt. I bogeyed the 2nd, 6th and 9th, but pars at the other holes meant I was out in 37. That was a good start, but the real test would be whether I could keep it going whilst being delayed by those in front.
I'd started par, bogey, par, par on the back 9 despite those delays, but the guys in front really surpassed themselves on this, the 14th, a steeply downhill 313 yard Par 4, wind behind. I didn't count all of their strokes but what I did see came to well into double figures and took about 15 minutes. When it was finally my turn to play, with the guys safely aboard the next tee, I managed to hit my shot of the day, a great drive to within 20 yards of the green in the middle of the fairway. I followed this up with a good lob wedge to inside 3 feet and another single putt for my only birdie of the day, with the guys in front were (still) on the next tee. That was really satisfying and with 4 holes to go I was determined not to let a good round slip away.
The 15th and 16th were both short Par 4's (281 and 289 yards) so it was easy enough to get pars, but the 17th was a more formidable 234 yard Par 3. I missed the green short and right but a bogey there was OK. The 18th, shown here, is a 433 yard Par 4. Another really good drive and a 20 degree rescue club to within 20 feet set up an outside birdie chance, but I was happy enough with a closing par. I'd gone round in 72, 4 over par, with 29 putts i.e. net 6 under par in soaking underfoot conditions. Pretty fine in the circumstances. Barshaw is probably a reasonably good course for beginners etc. in the Summer months and on reflection, I should have settled for a wasted journey rather than plough my way around its soaking fairways. At least it's done now, but I doubt whether I'd want to play it again. Ralston GC is under a mile away and is a far better course.
Barshaw was also my 100th new course in 2011. I'm hoping to play a few more before the end of the year, but the days are getting shorter and the chances of frost and snow are increasing, so much will depend on the weather as most of the remaining courses involve a fair amount of travelling.