Monday, 13 February 2012

Ravenspark Golf Course - Course no 475

Ravenspark is an 18 hole course in Irvine and is owned and operated by North Ayrshire Council.  The course is very much links-style in nature despite bordering on Irvine Town Centre and being a bit away from the coast itself.  Some fairways were showing signs of recent flooding and were still pretty damp, so the course was playing to its full length of 5881 yards Par 70 off the Yellow tees,  with none of the run on the fairways that might normally be expected during the Summer months.  The normal greens (thankfully all in play!) were also cut longer than they would be in the Summer, slowing down the pace of putts, but the course was still in pretty good condition when I played it on 13 February 2012 (and certainly a lot drier than at nearby Annanhill, which I'd played earlier in the day). 

Ravenspark is pretty easy walking, with only a few gentle slopes to tackle.  The clubhouse sits between holes 1-11 and 12-18, with the last 5 holes being particularly flat and short.  The course had been quiet (as might be expected on a Monday afternoon in February!) but it looked as though a bunch of elderly members had skipped on at the 14th for a few holes, so if you ever play here, be prepared for potential delays on the last few holes if these guys are around.   
Ravenspark starts with an easy 318 yard Par 4.  Hit anything reasonable off the tee and it's a wedge to the green, as shown here.  I'd done that OK and scored an easy opening par.  I'd noticed that a guy had teed off right behind me and was already addressing his second shot as I strolled to the 2nd tee.  I didn't hear his first "Fore" and as his second more urgent "FORE!" rang out, his ball whistled past within a few feet of my head, so a very close call. I resisted the temptation to comment on what must have been an almighty sh---.  Maybe it's just a concidence that the guy then cut over to the 4th and subsequently missed out another few holes  after I'd caught up with him on the 8th.  Fighting a sh--- is bad enough without an audience and/or risking an insurance claim!

I'd another easy par at the 2nd, but I made a complete mess of the 3rd, a 410 yard Par 4.  This is a low lying part of the course and was pretty muddy, and a fluffed pitch and run didn't help, but double bogey was a real disappointment.  The Ravenspark greens are quite small and the flags were mostly at the sides of the greens to minimise wear at this time of the year.  I'd found a greenside bunker on the 4th, a flat 156 yard Par 3 and with little green to work with I did well to get the bunker shot to within 10 feet.  Two putts from there meant that I'd dropped 3 shots in 2 holes.  I did at least par the next 3 holes, all short Par 4s.  The 8th is the Stroke Index 18 hole and was a  slightly downhill downwind 267 yard Par 4.  I'm not sure how I missed the fairway by 20 yards after a big hook, but taking 4 more from 50 yards out for a bogey 5 was just ridiculous.  Another mistake on the 9th cost me another bogey.  I was out in 40 with 13 putts and regretting my decision not to pack some energy bars!

The 10th fairway had been badly flooded, as large areas of grass had died and been replaced by mud, so a bogey on a slightly uphill 450 yard Par 4 was OK given the conditions.  The 341 yard Par 4 11th looks pretty formidable off the tee, but there's more room than you think.  There's OOB down the right and from the tee it looks as though your drive has to be threaded  through a small gap in whin bushes and gorse.  A dip in the fairway also suggets that the gap is very reachable, so my strategy was 3 wood and a short iron to the green.  The bushes on the right are actually a lot further away than they look but it doesn't help when you duff the 3 wood and proceed to plug your second into the face of the pot bunker protecting the flag.  Time for my best bunker shot for a while to within a foot of the hole, as shown here.  An easy par in the end, but I resisted the temptation to play the hole again, just in case....

Holes 12 and 13  run parallel to each other in a dip between the 14th and OOB.  Par these and you'll do well.  The 12th is a 382 yard Par 4 and the Stroke Index 1 hole.  I just missed a birdie putt from 30 feet, but got an easy par.  Dense gorse and whin bushes run the length of the right side of the 13th  fairway.  There's ample room on the left, but then you face some trees that block your route to the low-lying green, so only a very straight drive will do.  I managed that but blocked my second just short of the trees, leaving a blind 9 iron approach, but at least I got that to within 15 feet before missing the par putt.  The 13th is only 351 yards, but is quite tricky.  From there, Ravenspark peters out as a challenge and the last 5 holes are short, flat and relatively easy.  For example, this is the 16th, with the main coast road through Irvine in the background.  The hole is only 292 yards, so it's only a drive and a flick with a wedge.  The flag was near the front so I got a wee bit cute and landed my pitch on the up slope to the green.  Even so, a scrambled par was easy enough.  I parred the last 5 holes without incident for a gross 77, net 67, or 3 under the net par of the course, with 26 putts on small receptive greens.

Ravenspark is not a particularly challenging course and offers an easy introduction to links golf.  It's kiddies' stuff compared to the "real" links courses nearby e.g Royal Troon, Old Prestwick or even Irvine Bogside on a windy day, but it's great value for money and I enjoyed it.  North Ayrshire Council operates 3 "cooncil" courses (the others being Largs Routenburn and Auchenharvie) and Ravenspark is probably the best of the lot, with Auchenharvie a poor third.

No comments:

Post a Comment