Friday, 24 February 2012

Dalziel Park Golf Course - Course no 476

This 18 hole parkland course of 5872 yards, Par 70 off the Yellow Tees is part of an impressive Hotel, Restaurant and Conference Centre in Motherwell, a town a few miles south east of Glasgow.  Unusually, I'd just fronted up to play the course without doing any Internet research beforehand.  I only knew that Dalziel Park was an 18-holer, but 23 February  2012 was a very mild but damp day and I was planning to play at the nearby Strathclyde Park Course anyway.  My sat nav got me there easily, although the voice-over designer had obviously never heard of the great Walter Hagen.  The Course is on Hagen Drive, incongruously pronounced "Haijen" by my sat nav.   Some basic research would have told me that the complex had changed hands last year and that according to some course reviews on the Internet the course had been very poorly maintained by its previous owners.  Another 9 holes to the original 9 hole layout some years ago, but when I played the course only the original 9 holes were open for play (Holes 1, 2 and 12-18).  The Pro told me that extensive work was underway to improve course drainage and that it was hoped that the full course would re-open in due course.  As matters stood, it was clear that the 9 holes that were open were very much "work in progress" and far short of  the new owner's redevelopment plans for the course.  

Most of the West of Scotland parkland courses that I've played in recent months have been pretty soggy underfoot and as I'd expected Dalziel Park was no different, but the extensive drainage work that is being done here should  reap its rewards in due course.  I didn't see the closed holes (in a completely separate section beyond trees at the back of the 2nd green) but those that I did play were enough to suggest that there was a pretty decent golf course here under redevelopment.  I'll certainly need to go back sometime to play the holes that are currently closed, so I'll probably go back in the Summer next year, to see what's been done.

In the meantime, Dalziel (pronounced DL - sat nav designers please note) Park is still a pretty good test and will get better as the course dries out and drainage is improved.  It starts gently enough with a 244 yard Par 4, but any notion that this is an easy course goes on the 2nd, a tough 309 yard uphill Par 4 that plays a lot longer than it looks.  I pretty much had the course to myself other than a 4 ball of elderly members, equally oblivious to the strong wind, fine drizzle and muddy conditions.  It's always a challenge when the folk in front invite me to play through (and are watching for proof of the wisdom of their adherence to good etiquette).  My 6th Hole (in reality the 15th) was a downhill 136 yard Par 3 and one of the 4 ball had put his tee shot an impressive 6 feet of the flag.  An easy 7 iron to within 4 feet should have set up my birdie, but the greens were slow and a bit bumpy (no surprise at this time of the year!).  Still, an easy par would have reassured the guys that I'd not hold them up. This is the 7th (in reality the 16th), a largely uphill 431 yard Par 4 and the Stroke Index 1 hole.  With the fairways being so wet and the strong wind blowing almost directly into my face there was no way I was going to reach in regulation.  Indeed, I was still a yard short in 3, but a lob wedge to within a couple of inches was pretty satisfying, albeit for another bogey.

I thought the best hole here was the 9th (really the 18th), as shown here.  This is a slightly uphill 462 yard Par 5.  The drive is blind, the 2nd needs to clear a half-hidden stream and mature trees bordering both sides of the fairway  and the third should just be a short pitch at most.  I managed an easy closing par that way to go round in 37, with 16 putts.  Par for the course in play was 34, so my score was net 2 under par.  Dalziel Park wasn't at its best when I visited, but don't let that put you off, since my guess is that this course could be pretty good once all of the redevelopment work is completed.  I certainly hope the new owners achieve their ambitions for the course.  Thanks again to the Pro for his warm welcome and his kind donation to the Cancer Research UK charity.

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