Thursday, 15 March 2012

Castle Douglas GC - Course no 483

This is an interesting 9 Hole Parkland course beside the A75 road to Stranraer, a few miles west of Dumfries, measuring 2596 Yards, Par 35, from the Yellow tees.  Like so many other small courses in Scotland, Castle Douglas GC operates an Honesty Box system.  Put your green fees (£10) in an envelope,  sign the Visitors Book, put the envelope into the box and then play the course.  The car park was completely deserted when I arrived to play the course on 12 March 2012 and there was no-one either on the course or around the clubhouse, so I just paid the green fee (honest!) and played away from the Yellow 1st tee.  The 1st is a steeply uphill 100 yard Par 3.  There was no flag but I didn't think that was too odd, since it was still Winter and there was some course maintenance work going on.  I got my par OK and proceeded to play the 2nd, a downhill 253 yard Par 4.  It was only when I was passing the Clubhouse that I noticed a couple of yellow tee markers, suggesting that the 2nd was playing as a shortish Par 3.  I'd taken this photo of the golf club sign before paying my green fee, but had I actually read the Information Board next to the club sign, I'd have seen that the 1st Hole was actually closed for drainage work and that the course was temporarily reduced to 8 holes, with the 2nd played as a Par 3 from a temporary tee beside the clubhouse.  My sincere apologies to the club.  I should have read the notice before playing - and no doubt someone would have told me not play the 1st - had anyone been around, that is.  I must remember to read local club notices in future!

There wasn't much run on the fairways, so the course was playing long.  However, I didn't think that it was particularly heavy underfoot and certainly nowhere near as bad as at nearby Brighouse Bay.  Castle Douglas is a really good example of the 9 hole courses to be found in Scotland's small towns and villages and is well worth a visit.  There are a few blind holes, notably on the 8th, a hugely difficult 420 yard Par 4 and the Stroke Index 1 hole.  This hole starts by the roadside, opposite the excellent Summerhill B&B where I was staying overnight (with it's own indoor pool!).  Negotiate that hole without losing a shot and your doing very well, but for me, the most demanding tee shot was the 9th, a 313 yard Par 4.  This is the view from the tee. The top of the hill is around 250 yards out, but the slope is quite steep and long, so only a huge drive would stand any chance of clearing the top.  No doubt some local gorillas find this an easy hole, but I still had a blind 8 iron over the top.  I'd already climbed the same hill earlier in wrongly playing the 1st hole, so I just took my chances and trusted the direction pole. 

Luckily it was accurate and although I'd just missed the green to the right a good chip and a single putt saved the closing par.  This is the view down to the green from the top of the hill.  I'd gone round in 40, net 35, only 1 over net par, with 15 putts.  Not bad.  This course is well worth seeking out if you're in the area, but remember to read the Information Board, just in case!

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