Monday, 26 March 2012

Airdrie GC - Course no 490

I played this course on 26 March 2012 after my earlier round at Ruchill.  Airdrie is a really good and enjoyable 18 hole parkland course measuring 5508 yards, Par 69 from the Yellow Tees and a more meaty 5772 yards from the Medal Tees.  Forward Winter tees were still being used but 17 of the main greens were in operation, so the course was probably playing to around 5300 yards.  The course starts gently with a 240 Yard Par 4, played downhill and blind over a small hill to a plateau green.  The 407 Yard Par 4 2nd involves another blind tee shot, followed by a downhill shot to the green.  This is a really good hole.  The 3rd is uphill and unless you hit a huge drive, the approach shot to the green is blind.  I bogeyed each of these opening holes, but the course already had my attention and respect.  This is the 4th, a 119 Yard steeply downhill Par 3.  I'd over hit a 9 iron to the back of the green, but at least I'd parred a hole.  The 5th is the Stroke Index 1 Hole and is a steeply uphill 373 Yard Par 4.  I'd skied a drive around 180 yards so had a blind 3 Wood, played to a direction marker in the trees beyond the green.  A bogey there was OK, but I'd made the classic mistakes of not taking enough water onto the course (or a stroke saver guide!).  Airdrie was pretty easy walking after that climb on the 5th, but with the course still drying out after the Winter, humidity was high and one bottle of water was not nearly enough.

I played pretty steadily after the 5th, the highlight being a par on the 441 Yard Par 4 9th, with OOB all along the right side of the fairway, as shown here. I was on in 3, but a 12 foot single putt was a real bonus and an unlikely par.  This is a dangerous hole and I'd only narrowly avoided going OOB off the tee.  The tee shot is played blind uphill and even a bogey there would have been good.  The back 9 starts gently enough, but the 13th is tricky.  This is a 400 yard Par 4, with a deep gully in front of a small plateau green.  I was just short on the up slope, but a good lob wedge to within a yard and I'd got another hole done without damage.

I'd seen stroke saver course guides for sale in the Pro Shop, but I'd gambled that the course wouldn't contain too many surprises and that I'd be able to fiddle may way around without a guide.  The 14th is a 296 Yard downhill Par 4 with trees all down the right.  The fairway is pretty wide and I'd cleared the crest of a small hill off the tee and expected to have little more than a wedge to the green.  Had I bought a course guide I'd have known about the string of fairway bunkers protecting the left side of the hole, as shown here, and aimed at the right side of the fairway.  My ball found an awful lie in the first bunker and the best I could do is move it 20 yards to another bad lie in the second bunker, leading to a double bogey and further proof, if any were needed, that a bit more thought and pre-planning might help my game. First tip - buy a stroke saver whenever possible.  Second tip - when you've a bad lie in a bunker, aim sideways to avoid going into the next bunker! Not rocket science, but enough to have saved me a stroke or two on this short Par 4.

Airdrie has some really good holes amongst some that are less testing (but still satisfying in their own way), but for me, the crowning glory was the 17th, a 399 Yard Par 4 played over or between mature trees (if you get really lucky!) from the tee.  The hole then dog legs right and slightly downhill to a small half hidden green.  This is the view from the Yellow Tee.  I was imagining what the drive would be like from the Medal tee (20 yards further back) on a windy day, if you needed a par finish to your medal round.  Scary or what?  OK, the big hitters would just blast away, but this is a potential card wrecker for medium handicappers like me who have seen their length diminish over the years.  I carried the trees easily enough but lost my perspective into the green.  I'd seen earlier in the round that the 18th tee lies beyond and to the left of the 17th green.  I'd just caught up with a 4-ball and thought these guys were en route to 18th.  They were in fact only just walking onto the 17th green so it was lucky that my second shot was a few yards shy of the green.  Apologies once again, guys!  I somehow chipped to within a foot of the hole, despite my unexpected audience.  A par there was a relief, but the 17th is a really strong hole.

By contrast, the 18th was slightly disappointing.  The green was GUR due to some drainage work, so a temporary green was in play, reducing the hole to something like a 180 Yard uphill Par 3.  I missed the green to the left and dropped a final stroke for a total of 79, net 69 (net even par) with 28 putts.  A very good course though and I recommend you give it a try.

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