The Rouken Glen Golf Centre is on the south side of Glasgow and includes a James Braid designed 18 hole parkland course, measuring a short 4360 yards from the Yellow tees, Par 65 and a driving range. There are some hills to tackle, but the course is so compact and short you'd need to be seriously unfit to have any trouble getting round. This is the shortest 18 hole course I've played in a long time and with 7 Par 3s of 102-203 yards and 11 Par 4s, all well under 400 yards, most of the holes are simple enough if you hit the ball reasonably straight. There are a number of small streams to avoid particularly on the back 9, but if you avoid them, as I did, it's possible to score well here.
It was bitterly cold and frosty with some temporary greens in play when I played here on 8 February 2012. The ground was rock hard, meaning that the course was playing extremely short. This is a view down the 268 yard 4th, a short Par 4. I'd hit a reasonably good drive down the right side of the fairway, hoping to get some run. Sure enough, my ball was on the green, so that was an easy first birdie. However, the hard ground meant that there were also some odd bounces. I'd hit a sand iron on the 6th, a 117 yard Par 3 but my ball landed just short of the green and bounced 10 yards back towards the tee. Bizarre!I'd reached the turn in 36 (4 over par) in little over an hour by following the guy in front. With the layout being so compact, the route was not always obvious, so it was lucky he was there and doing the full round, since signage was very poor, with no hole numbers on the tees or flags. OK, so it's Winter, but surely there are some inexpensive tee markers that can be used to brighten up the place and help visitors? The 10th, as shown here, is probably my favourite hole at Rouken Glen. This is a 301 yard Par 4, played steeply downhill, with the 2nd shot played over a stream to a small raised green. The 11th is an uphill 252 yard Par4. Hit a reasonable drive and it's only a wedge to the green. I'd a 20 foot downhill putt left, but managed to hole it for a second birdie.
This is a view from the 12th fairway over to the clubhouse, giving a flavour of the slopes and views over the city, with the 3rd tee and fairway in the left foreground. It really was as cold as it looks! I'd been playing reasonably well recently, e.g. a gross 76 (net 4 under par) off the back tees at my own course Glen GC (see www.glengolfclub.co.uk) a couple of days before, and that decent form was obviously continuing at Rouken Glen. The 16th was a short 116 yard Par 3. I'd missed the green to the right but chipped in for another birdie to get back to 4 over par.
The 17th was a 299 yard Par 4, as shown here. I was on in 2 and holed a 4 footer for my 4th birdie of the day. Unfortunately I bogeyed the last, a slightly uphill 140 yard Par 3 that played a bit longer than it looked. That took me back to 4 over for a 68, net 58, or 7 under net par, with 25 putts. This might sound impressive, but even if you mishit the odd shot, the holes are short enough to scramble a bogey at worst. I'm not sure what happened to the clubhouse, but it was simply a derelict shell, used only as a store for the adjacent driving range. It was sad to see a course designed by the great James Braid in such a sorry state. Maybe it looks a bit better on a bright summer's day, but with so many excellent courses within a few miles, e.g. East Renfrewshire, Eastwood, Bonnyton, Cathcart Castle, Whitecraigs, Williamwood and Pollok, I doubt I'd ever want to play Rouken Glen again, famous designer or not.