I'd still to play 3 courses near each other on the South side of the Firth of Clyde and with the first signs of Spring in the air, I set out early on 21 March 2012. My first course of the day was to be the 9 Hole Course at Greenock GC, a club which also has a good 18 hole course that I'd played in 2009. In common with other courses nearby such as Paisley, Fereneze, Gourock, Port Glasgow and Skelmorlie, and across the Firth, the Greenock courses are a mixture of hilly heathland and moorland, with peat-based soils that can be pretty heavy underfoot at the best of times. The 9 hole Course at Greenock measures 2160 Yards, Par 32 and is a really good short course, ideal for a quick few holes. The first tee is just outside the clubhouse doors, with the main course starting a few hundred yards away, and finishing by the 9th tee of the shorter course. I'd known that Greenock GC was hilly from my previous visit and the 1st Hole on the 9 Hole Course is probably the steepest hill of all. This is only a 288 Yard Par 4, but there was no run uphill on the drive and I'd a full 7 iron blind up the remainder of the hill. A bogey there was reasonable. The Pro had given me directions to the 2nd tee, saying that it lay beside the 18th green on the main course but I had to wait for the guy behind me to catch me up to offer fresh advice - turned out he was playing a quick 9 holes before going to work!
The 2nd was another short Par 4 at 307 Yards, played across some heavy rough to another uphill fairway. An easy 4 there set up by a good drive. This is the 3rd, an excellent 180 yard Par 3, slightly downhill and playing around 160 from a forward tee. I hit a really good 6 iron to 6 feet, pin high but missed the birdie putt, so Gordon Simpson's money was safe for now (a friend from Glen GC who donates cash to our charity every time I get a birdie). The 4th is a 348 yard uphill Par 4 and the Stroke Index 1 hole. The fairway is quite narrow and with deadly whin bushes and trees to the right, a fade off the left of the fairway looked to be my best hope. The fade almost didn't happen, so I was blocked out by a tree, costing me a bogey on that tricky hole.
This is the 5th, a 125 Yard steeply downhill Par 3, with the Firth of Clyde in the background. The tee shot looked to be an easy wedge at most and a par there was pretty good since I'd actually missed the green, short. The 6th is a really good hole, a 290 Yard Par 4, played slightly downhill, with a stream running across the fairway in front of the green. The local guy I was playing with warned me against using the Driver as the stream is within driving range. Good advice and an easy 3 wood set up a 9 iron shot to the front of the green and another easy par.
This is the view from the 6th tee, with Greenock and Port Glasgow far below in the distance. The 7th is a 313 Yard Par 4, slight dog leg right, with the fairway sloping downhill from right to left. I'd started my drive down the right side, thinking it would roll to the left, but this is March on a peat-based course, so a plugged lie, no run and a bad shot selection. I'd blocked myself out and had some high pine trees between me and the green. Fool that I am I tried the miracle shot, only to hear the ball clatter into the trees, and a bogey there was a very lucky escape.
This is the 8th, a 91 Yard Par 3 played over a deep ravine. Hit the green or hope you've played an old ball. My partner suggested it was better to be long, but as the 18th on the main course finishes nearby, a group of golfers had somewhat cheekily cut in after finishing their 18th and were playing from the 9th tee right in front of us. Apart from the obvious breach in etiquette, these guys were well within range, adding to the difficulty of this short hole. I was pleased with the par, as I'd only just made it to the front of the green.
The last hole on the 9 Hole Course is a downhill 218 Yard Par 3, with the green hidden behind a small gorse-covered hillock and OOB close by. I'd missed the green to the left off the tee and that cost me a closing bogey for a total of 37, net 32 (even net par) with 16 putts. I really liked this little course. The bigger course is pretty good too, but both courses are high and fully exposed to the prevailing west wind, which can blow pretty strong. Worth a visit.