Edzell is a quiet and very pretty village lying midway between Dundee and Aberdeen at the gateway to the Angus Glens reaching into the foothills of the Grampian Mountains. Polly and I had played the Old Course at Edzell GC some years ago. The Old Course dates back to 1895 and was designed by top golfer and architect Bob Simpson and amended some 39 years later in line with recommendations from the legendary James Braid. It was apparently originally heathland in nature, but a major tree-planting programme started in the 1960s has brought a parkland air to the picturesque and peaceful setting. Edzell is one of my favourite Scottish inland courses and has a great clubhouse. Although I'd remembered from our earlier visit that there was also a 9 hole course, I wasn't sure what to expect when I turned up to play the 9-hole West Water Course on 28 February 2012. The West Water Course opened in 2001 and is a Par 32 laid out amongst mature pine trees on a flat site beyond the 2nd Hole old Course, and next to the club's Driving Range game practice area, a short 2 minute drive from the Clubhouse. The West Water is an easy walking course that when I played it was clearly popular with some of the club's more senior players. However, it's still a good test in its own right.
The course starts with a gentle 109 yard Par 3, with a single bunker and pine trees left and right protecting the small green. I'd just missed the green and had an easy pitch but the green was faster than it looked so that cost me an opening bogey. The 2nd is a 463 yard Par 5, with pine trees again protecting the green and making the second shot pretty demanding. I missed the green to the left again so bogey No 2 on the card. This is the 3rd Hole, a 148 yard Par 3. With the tee laid out so far to the left and the flag on the left front of the green, the trees to the left of the hole came into play. It was obvious that some tree thinning had been going on and thanks to the club's excellent website, I gather that this will bring increased sunlight to the green in the early morning. I've now researched hundreds of club websites as part of my efforts to play every Scottish golf course, but Edzell's is probably the most informative about course developments and even has its own "Greenkeeper's News" tab, enabling members to hear about course developments, ask questions and learn more about the challenges of maintaining their course. A really innovative tool that I wish other clubs would consider. I over-cooked an attempted draw and again missed the green on the left, so another bogey.
The 4th is a straight 305 yard Par 4, played downwind on the day, so an easy enough opening par. The 5th is a a more demanding 328 yard slight dog leg right, played directly into the strong breeze with a small hidden gully in front of the green. I was glad I took an extra club to reach the front of the green, setting up my second par. The 6th is a 116 yard Par 3. I over-clubbed, misjudging the breeze and was lucky to get my long putt close enough to scramble a par. West Water is generally pretty easy to navigate, but I did find the 7th pretty confusing. This is the view from the tee. The hole is only a 263 yard Par 4, downwind, but I'd not realised that the line lies slightly left of the bunker in the middle of the picture. I just aimed at the dark tree to the right of the bunker, flew it and had only a short lob wedge to the green. A good 10 foot putt and I'd birdied the hole.
I'd caught up with a Seniors' 4 Ball (using buggies) by then, so it was good to have a small audience for that birdie and for my next tee shot. This is the 8th, a 103 yard Par 3. I'd hit a full sand iron dead on line, but my ball was a lot further away than it looks on this photo and I even missed the 6 foot putt. The last is a 150 yard Par 3. I found a greenside bunker off the tee and had another bogey, but at least I'd managed to go round in 35, net 2 under par, with 14 putts.
The West Water is a good little course, well worth playing before you tackle the Old. Overall, Edzell is an excellent complex for such a small village and both courses are well worth a visit.