Monday, 7 November 2011

Caprington GC - 18 Hole Course - Course no 462

The two parkland courses at Caprington on the outskirts of Kilmarnock are owned and operated by East Ayrshire Council.  I played both courses on 7 November 2011 on a warm sunny day. The private Caprington GC plays over both courses and its clubhouse overlooks the 18th green on the main course.   The 18 hole course is a short 5513 yards par 67 off the Yellow tees and is laid out in 2 main sections, with Holes 1-12 being played over undulating land behind the clubhouse and the rest of the holes played over flatter and lower lying land in front of the clubhouse.  Since the last few days had been warm and sunny with no rain, I'd been expecting Caprington to be relatively dry underfoot, but sadly I was very wrong.  I don't know whether much has been spent in drainage here over the years, but from the outset, the main Caprington course was pretty soggy.  The first light frost of the Autumn was still evident in those parts of the course sheltered from the Sun and there were a few Winter greens in operation for a while, but at least the Greenkeepers moved the flags back to the normal greens once the frost had melted away.  The course yardage on the day was a bit shorter than 5513 yards, but with such wet fairways, there was no run on the ball and anything hit high would plug where it landed, particularly in the rough.    Just to make it more tricky (and potentially dangerous), there was at least one blind shot blind shot on 7 of the first 9 holes and no marker poles to indicate the optimum line.  Thankfully I was hitting the ball pretty straight, as it would have been easy to lose a few balls here, particularly on the blind holes.  There was an "all-clear" bell by the side of the 4th green, but I guess it would get pretty confusing and noisy if bells were a feature on each of the blind holes!
This is the 6th, a formidable 447 yard Par 4 and the Stroke Index 1 hole.  The course was quite busy, so the pace of play was relatively slow.  I'd waited a while before driving off, blind over one of the many hills on Holes 1-12.  Even so, I drove through the 2 guys in front and the 3 ladies in front of them.  It took ages to play that hole, so I joined up with Andy, a local member playing behind me, for the rest of the first 12 holes.  I was just short of the green after a good drive and 20 degree rescue club, but a bogey there wasn't bad.  The ladies then skipped a few holes and the 2 guys in front speeded up, so Andy and I had a clear run from then on.  The greens at Caprington were slow but true-running and I was playing well, so 37 to the turn with only 12 putts was good.

The 10th is only 310 yards with a small plateau green.  I'd hooked a drive left onto the practice ground but had a perfect lie and a decent view of the flag.  An easy wedge to 10 feet set up the birdie chance and another good putt converted that opportunity.  This is the 12th, a short slightly uphill 261 yard Par 4.  I'd only a short lob wedge to the green, but I missed a 20 foot birdie chance.  Still, another easy par was pretty good. It seemed as though most players were only doing the first section of the course, since I only saw 2 other golfers when I played the Holes 13-18 section.  I soon discovered why, as parts of this section of the course were absolutely saturated, with puddles and mud in abundance.  Indeed, I couldn't find even a reasonably dry walking line through the first part of the 13th and most of the 17th and 18th holes were flooded.    
The 13th is a 490 yard Par 5, played directly into the Sun, with a blind second shot.  I'd hit a good straight drive, only to find it half-submerged in a muddy lie.  My shoes were already dirty but in rescuing my ball I was lucky not to sink beyond the top of my shoes!  A bogey there led to the first (and only!) 6 on the card.  However, I managed straight 4's over the last 5 holes for a total of 74, net 64, or net 3 under par, with 25 putts.  A good round, but goodness knows what this course is like in really wet conditions.  I suspect it floods pretty easily, so if you want to play here, choose your timing carefully.  This is a photo of the 18th green, taken from 60 or so yards out after I'd picked my way through the first 100 yards or so of standing water and mud.  I doubt I'd want to play the course again, even in dry conditions.  There are just too many blind shots with no marker posts to offer guidance for my liking.

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