Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Doon Valley GC - Course no 505

I played here on 28 May 2012 after my round at Maybole. This is a moderately hilly 9 hole parkland/moorland course in the former coal mining village of Patna in East Ayrshire.  The course was built on a former coal bing, is owned and operated by the east Ayrshire Council and is home to the Doon Valley Golf Club, a small club founded in 1927 that draws its 100+ membership from the village and surrounding areas.  I'd been planning to play the course earlier in the year but had been advised that it tends to be quite boggy over the Winter months.  Even though it's been fairly dry and hot this Spring, the course was significantly softer underfoot than at nearby Maybole.  The Doon Valley course lies over the railway line from the modest clubhouse.  There's no automatic barrier etc. you just open the gate and cross the tracks after watching out for passing trains.

The course is less physically demanding than Maybole although at 2725 Yards, Par 35, is slightly longer.  The 1st is a slightly dog leg left uphill 344 Yard Par 4 (named "Incline" for obvious reasons!)  A decent drive and a 9 iron to just off the back of the green set up an easy opening par.  The 285 yard Par 4 2nd is more awkward since a deep gully runs across the fairway just where your drive would land and there's a drainage ditch at the bottom of the gully.  I avoided the drainage ditch but had a blind second to the green.  Another good lob wedge and single putt saved the par.  The same gully also comes into play on the 3rd and 6th holes, which cross each other.  I had the course all to myself, but couldn't help thinking that the gully could be a potentially dangerous area when the course was busier.

This is the 5th, a tricky 135 Yard Par 3, played slightly uphill to a small green shelved into the hillside, with another deep gully running almost the full length of the hole and OOB on the right.  The hole plays longer than it looks but banking behind the green feeds anything overhit back down to the green so it's better to be big rather than fall short and flirt with the gully.  I opted for an easy 6 iron, hit the banking and finished within 6 feet, with an uphill putt.  A good birdie there and a good hole.  The 7th is another good hole, this time a 484 Yard Par 5 played from an elevated tee.  The fairway is generously wide but unless you've hit a great drive you'll have a steeply downhill lie and won't see that a water hazard cuts across a hidden dip in the fairway.  A good second shot will clear the drainage ditch, but be warned.  I managed a good par after a lob wedge 4th shot close enough to the hole to leave me a tap in.

This is the 8th, another good hole, this time a 145 Yard Par 3 played over a small gully to a plateau green, with OOB right behind it.  I'd played my 27 degree Rescue club off the tee and plugged into the bank just a few feet short of the green.  An easy pitch from there and a 3 foot putt later and I'd escaped with a par.  The 9th should be an easy 287 Yard Par 4.  Find the fairway and it should be an easy pitch and at most a couple of putts.  Maybe I was just hot and a bit tired but I'm still not sure where the wild hook came from that took my drive onto the 7th fairway, leaving me a tricky 8 iron to the green, over a copse of trees.  I'd finished just off the back of the green, narrowly avoiding a bunker.  Another good chip to 4 feet set up an unlikely par.  I was round in 37, only 2 over par, with 11 putts (small greens again).  I usually check my clubs at the end of every round and just as well, as my lob wedge was missing from the bag.  Sure enough, it was still lying by the side of the 7th green and given the sweltering conditions I was very glad I'd not left it by the 2nd green, the only previous time I'd used the club that round.

Doon Valley has some good holes but I doubt whether I'd want to play it again, even on another hot and sunny day. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Maybole Golf Course - Course no 504

This is a 9 hole course in the village of Maybole in South Ayrshire owned and operated by South Ayrshire Council, measuring 2450 Yards, Par 33 off the Yellow Tees.  I played here on 28 May 2012 on a hot (well, 26 Degrees C) and sunny day.  There was no Starter or honesty box in sight and no-one around other than 30+ lady pensioners in the clubhouse playing cards - an unexpected sight - all of whom suggested I "just play the course if you want, son." 

Maybole is a short parkland hilly course with 6 Par 4s ranging between 231 and 361 Yards and 3 Par 3s, one of which in my humble opinion needs a serious re-think.  After a short and steep climb to the 1st tee, the course starts with a steeply downhill 333 Yard Par 4, as shown here.  This was a gentle introduction but like so many of the other holes here, the green slopes away from you and anything even slightly long goes through the green, with a narrow bunker at the back lurking in wait.  I missed the bunker but still bogeyed the hole.  The 2nd is the longest hole on the course at 361 yards, back up the hill, with a blind second shot to a small green.  A marker pole of some kind would have helped and I only scrambled a par by chipping in from the side of the green after hitting my second shot well right of the correct line.

The 3rd is a good 197 Yard Par 3, slightly uphill, with the green located on a shelf on the side of the hill.  Aim right and let the ball run down onto the green.  I'd hit slightly too far right and got caught in light rough, so another bogey on the card.  The 4th is much the same as the 1st, steeply downhill and the 5th is much the same as the 2nd, again with a blind shot to the small green.  The 6th is a 220 Yard Par 3, steeply downhill and aptly named "Slippy" since the front half of the long and narrow green simply follows the steep slope of the hill.  Some effort has been made to level out the back half of the green, as shown above, but it looked to me as though the green needed to be shelved far more deeply into the hill to allow balls landing short to run onto and stay on the green.  I'd played an easy 27 Degree Rescue short of the green, but with the flag only a few feet on, I'd no chance of finishing anywhere near the hole.  Even with the green being soaked by the sprinkler, the slope on this green was the main contributor to my bogey.  A very poorly designed hole.

The 7th was my favourite hole, a dog leg right 278 Yard Par 4 played steeply uphill and blind off the tee.  The marker pole is a reasonably accurate guide, but a fade is required to avoid running out of fairway and finding a deep drainage ditch that borders the left side of the fairway.  The second shot is slightly downhill to another green that slopes away from you.  This is deservedly the Stroke Index 1 hole.  I'd hit a good drive and an easy pitch with a sand iron to light rough at the back of the green.  I'd only 15 feet or so to the hole and the putt was reasonably straight, so a good birdie there.

The dog leg right 8th is the last of the uphill holes and is a short 231 Yard Par 4.  Avoid the large fairway bunker and it's only a flick to the green, which slopes steeply downhill from back left to front right.  I'd cleared the fairway bunker off the tee and hit a lob wedge to within 8 feet, leaving an awkward downhill putt which just caught an edge and fell in for an unlikely successive birdie.  I would have been looking at another 8-10 foot putt had it missed.  The last hole at Maybole is a 143 Yard Par 3.  I bogeyed this hole after finding the right side bunker off the tee.  I'd gone round in 36 gross, only 3 over par, with 11 putts (well, the greens are small and it helps when you chip in twice!) 

Maybole was a pleasant enough track on a sunny day, but with so many other excellent courses in the area, I doubt whether I'd want to play it again, even if something was done to improve the 6th.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Vaul GC - Course no 503

We'd played the Coll course on the afternoon of 21 May 2012 but our ferry to nearby Tiree didn't leave until 1730 hrs on the 22nd, so we'd the whole day to kill.  Craig and Stu borrowed some mountain bikes from the Coll Hotel and were off after breakfast touring the island.  Unfortunately, they took a wrong turning and were soon wading through a bog, bikes over their shoulders.  Neither of them had ridden for a few years so good on them for making the effort.  They'd soon also spotted an ideal location for a spectacular 18 hole links course down by Crossapol Bay and were wishing they'd taken a car and their clubs!  I settled for a more relaxing walk across the breadth of the island to explore some of the superb and deserted beaches.  We'd arranged to play 3 Vaul GC members rather than just play their course on our own and Stuart and Alan from the club kindly met us at the pier to take us across to the course.  The ferry was a bit late getting in and the course wasn't as close as we'd thought, so it was almost 2000 hrs by the time we all teed off in a 6-ball, with John, the Vaul Club Champion for the past 4 years joining us. 

The 9 hole Vaul course on Tiree is 2894 Yard Par 36 and as flat as you could wish for at the end of a tiring trip (particularly if you've spent 6 hours on a mountain bike the day before!).  The land is also used as sheep grazing, so all of the greens are surrounded protective fences and there are no bunkers.  The sheep keep the course pretty well cropped so there's no rough to speak of, aside from occasional clumps of high maram grass.  This is the 1st green - they're all square and small enough to be difficult to hold, even from close range.  The putting surfaces were fairly slow and a bit hairy, but it must be really difficult to maintain good greens in such a remote location and on a low budget.  Tiree is a flat island.  Go west and the next landfall is Canada.  On the plus side, rain clouds from the Atlantic tend to just keep going until they hit higher ground on the mainland, so Tiree has a really good climate and when we were there the midges were still pretty dormant.

I'd started with a couple of opening Pars but a poor 20 Degree Rescue (3 wood still at home) on the 494 Yard  Par 5 3rd led to a double bogey.  Bogeys on the next 3 holes were also disappointing.  The course is short and flat with no real rough but the greens are really tricky and the difference in putting between the 3 of us and the 3 Vaul members was quite startling.  The longest putt holed between Craig, Stu and I was probably about 4 feet, but these guys seemed to be rolling putts in from crazy distances with ease.  Local knowledge was clearly an advantage! I did at least par the last 3 holes, including a chip in from off the green at the last, an awkward 347 Yard Par 4.  As at most of the holes, you can be wayward off the 9th tee as long as you steer clear of particular hazards.  I'd found Position Z in heavy rough in a deep gully to the left of the 9th fairway, so a par from there was highly unlikely.  Local rules allow any shot that hits wires surrounding the greens to be played again at the player's discretion but my chip at the last just missed a strand, hit some sheep droppings and crept in the back door on its last roll.  I'd gone round in 41 with 13 putts, marginally under net par, but we'd have been well beaten had we played a serious match against our hosts!

We all thought that Vaul was a really good course with great views.  From the far end of the course we could see the islands of Barra, Canna, Rhum, Muck, Eigg, Coll and Mull and in the far distance, our hotel (the less I say about that the better, but if you ever want to play the excellent Vaul course, you might want to think twice before staying at the Scarinish Hotel).  We were a long way away from home but Stuart, John  and Alan were great hosts, so thanks again to them for making our game possible and so enjoyable.   This is a photo of the guys on the 9th, just as the sun was setting, and some other random photos of the course.

Coll GC - Course no 502

We'd been planning our trip to Coll and Tiree for many months, trying to minimise the travel time and overnight costs.  It emerged that our best plan would be to stay overnight in Oban on a Sunday, catch the only ferry to Coll on the Monday morning, stay overnight to take the ferry to Tiree on the Tuesday evening and return to Oban on the Wednesday.  That gave us almost 24 hours to play the 9 hole course on Coll and only a few hours of evening daylight to play the Vaul GC course on Tiree, assuming all went well with our travels. 

I'd spent over 10 years working on the operational side of the ferry business, so when the MV Lord of the Isles suffered mechanical problems delaying our 0800 hrs departure from Oban to Coll, I guessed it would be the inner visor doors playing up.  A former CalMac colleague confirmed that that was indeed the problem, but we were soon on our way and (safely?) outside yet another CalMac fried breakfast.  Somehow the healthy option doesn't cut the mustard when there's golf to be played.  We'd be burning tons of calories for the next couple of days, so I gladly took another hit for the team.  We'd arranged to stay at the Coll Hotel, but with our golf and overnight bags, our kilometre hoof to the hotel was still a kilometre hoof.  Accordingly, we were delighted to be met by Kevin from the hotel, a delightful man who in 5 minutes gave us a spin round Coll's history and his family's near-30 years ownership of what turned out to be a truly excellent hotel.  This Blog is about my golfing experiences, but I must digress slightly.  I've no real idea how many Scottish hotels I've stayed in.  100?  even more?  I've certainly stayed at some of the great names, but the Coll Hotel has to be up there with the best for the warmth of its welcome, the truly great food, beer, the friendly staff, and memories of boules in the garden and trying to out-drive each other playing some old golf balls into the sea off the hotel's helipad will  stay in the memory banks long after I've completed the all-courses challenge.  See www.collhotel.com and especially the web cam, which is located just outside my bedroom window (Room 6).

We'd been advised by Julie at the hotel that the Coll course isn't normally open so early in the year and that as it's laid out on land normally reserved for cattle and sheep grazing, the conditions are basic at best.  The hotel would do its best to ensure we had score cards and that all of the flags would be in place.  What we didn't know in advance was that the hotel had given Graham (the hotel chef) time off so that he could walk the course, lay out the flags and guide us round.  We'd been expecting to hoof it to the course, a good 3 miles each way, so we were again delighted when Kevin gave us a lift and promised to come back in a couple of hours to collect us.  This is a rare group photo of Craig, Stu and myself, as taken by Graham on the 5th tee.

The Coll Course itself is a 9 hole 2133 Yards, Par 31 course which in terms of general condition and layout reminded me of Solles, Iona and a few other courses that also serve as rough grazing pasture.  This is Stu heading off after his tee shot on the 2nd.  The green is actually on the far right of the photo. Nice one, Stu!  I must also mention Graham, an absolute star, amazing chef and generally good guy.  The Coll course signage is actually not bad, with a few small blue signs showing you the general direction of the next tees.  The trouble is finding the signs and knowing when you've arrived at the next tee.  The club does have proper tee markers, but these were still in the storge shed by the 1st tee as the course wasn't officially open for the season, so we were all in Graham's hands.  Thanks again to Kevin, Julie and especially Graham for their considerable help in ensuring we could play the course.   

This is the 7th, a 159 Yard Par 3, well protected by an assortment of livestock unfraid of daft golfers and certainly well able to stand their ground.  Maybe they were just curious, marvelling at Stu's unique swing or how a straight-looking putt could veer dramatically right or left, or come to a sudden halt after connecting with hoof prints or the many animal droppings obstructing our progress. For the very observant, the object in the middle of the photo is indeed a football goal (the pitch is from the 1st fairway to the 7th green).  The young calf guarding the near post took his job a bit too seriously, sticking manfully to his task for the whole of our round!

This is me after the round and we'd dug the course sign out of its winter storage.  I'd gone round in 37 with 16 putts (we adopted a maximum 2-putt rule).  In reality, there were no greens, just flattish places where holes had been sunk and flags inserted.  I'd just about played to my handicap over my 502nd Scottish course, in the company of old and new friends.  Maybe a 5 hour round at Turnberry or Royal Troon would have given me similar pleasure, but the 90 minutes we spent at Coll GC was probably the right and the best way to celebrate my personal milestone.  Golf at its most basic certainly, but for as long as golf is played in Scotland, I hope that for every Turnberry or Troon there is a Coll and an Iona and that real golfers will go beyond the famous "trophy courses" to see the other side of golf in Scotland and like me, enjoy the simple pleasure that is to be found in hacking around with only the odd sheep or cow to witness the madness. Next time you're forking out your green fees for a new course, remember that the annual subscription for Coll GC is £35.

The Coll leg of our trip was simply outstanding.  Try it sometime and for goodness' sake stay at the Coll Hotel.  Say a big hello from me, Craig and Stu to Kevin, Julie, Graham and Paul (the excellent barman) if you do.  Here are a few random photos from my stay in Coll.  No explanations, but they mean something to me.

Isle of Seil GC - Course no 501

I played this excellent little 9 hole course on 20 May 2012 after my round at Lochgilphead.  The Isle of Seil is a small island a few miles south of Oban, connected to the mainland by an ancient stone bridge, widely known throughout as "The Bridge Over The Atlantic."  Seil has over the years become a haven for holiday homes, but in the past it was a busy industrial area, with the landscape heavily scarred by intensive slate quarrying.  That industry has long gone and although there is still evidence of past quarrying, the island is now a great place to visit, with for me at least, the highlight being the 2195 Yard Par 31 Isle of Seil Golf Club.  This is an almost flat course built by the side of the narrow strip of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the island from the rest of Argyll.  No need to book here - just turn up and pay the modest green fees at the Post Office/local shop and enjoy.

The 1st is a flat 364 Yard Par 4.  The rough is mostly quite benign, except for the tough stuff I found to the left of the fairway, so an opening bogey, was disappointing.  the 2nd is a tough slightly uphill and totally blind 149 Yard Par 3.  Logic might suggest otherwise, but just trust the marker pole.  Go left of it and you might as well reload.  The 368 Yard Par 4 3rd is quite deceptive.  You play from an elevated tee to a narrow fairway, avoiding watery trouble on the right and for me at least, the elderly couple playing the 1st.  Having found the middle of the fairway, I opted for a 9 iron to the green.  Fortunately, this was too much club as I'd been going for the 9th by mistake.  The 3rd green lies to the right and a few yards beyond the 9th, so another bogey after that navigational error - no stroke saver books on sale here!  The 4th is a 128 Yard Par 3 and as at Lochgilphead earlier, I was regretting not to have an 8 iron in my bag.  The 7 was far too much club so another bogey.  The 5th fairway offers up this intriguing view of what turned out to be the 8th hole.  My play was not so great but at least the 26 degree heat and the scenery made up for it.

The 5th is a 309 yard Par 4 and the Stroke Index 1 hole.  I'd been invited to play through by the 4-ball I'd just caught up with since they were looking for at least one ball in boggy ground to the left of the fairway.  A bogey was understandable due my haste to play through, but I didn't really understand why this 4-ball then decided to play the next hole from the front of the 5th green rather than wait for me to clear the 6th tee.  Takes all types, I suppose and although my own swing is far from classic, it became clear that none of the 4 had much of a clue.  Indeed, after I'd finished my round and was driving away from the course, I noticed that they had just finished the 7th, so thank goodness they had let me through! 

The 6th is a tricky 266 Yard Par 4, with the narrow fairway bordered by gorse on the right and the sea on the left.  The second shot is blind over a hump and as I found out, anything long risks getting seriously wet.  I'd hit an easy 9 iron (no wedge in the bag) to within a yard of the high tide mark beind the green.  Luckily the tide was out and a good chip with my sand iron helped rescue a par.  The 7th is a slightly uphill 138 Yard Par 3, perfect for my 7 iron.  However, you don't see the putting surface from the tee so I didn't know that the flag was on the very left side of the green.  Again, a good chip and single putt saved par.

And so to the 8th, surely the best hole on the course.  Only 155 Yards, Par 3 over a sea inlet to a small plateau green, but a potential card wrecker, particularly for the 4-ball playing behind me.  I pulled my 7 iron left onto the beach.  Lob wedge would have been a better choice since my thinned sand iron took me through the green into a deep hollow.  A bogey from there was OK, but 6 iron was probably the right club from the tee (another club left at home on this trip).  The 9th is a 143 Yard Par 3 played over some old quarry workings to a plateau green.  An easy par there meant I'd gone round in 36 with 13 putts.  With half of my handicap allowance of 5.5, I'd just beaten the net par and really enjoyed the course.  The Isle of Seil is not too far from Oban, so if you're ever en route to any of the island courses served by ferries operating out of Oban, give this wee course a try.  You'll enjoy the peace of the place.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Lochgilphead GC - Course no 500

I had the pleasure of playing here on 20 May 2012 on a hot and sunny day, the first leg on a short tour that would take Craig, Stu and I to Coll and Tiree, a couple of the more inaccessible and remote Scottish courses.

On paper, there's nothing remarkable about the Lochgilphead GC course.  An unlikely venue for my 500th course, though! At 2056 Yards, Par 32, it's amongst the shortest of Scotland's 9 hole courses and it's unlikely that you'd pass it en route to a more famous golfing venue.  What made Lochgilphead GC stand out for me was the warmth of the members and the efforts they made to ensure that my short visit was a memorable one.  At some of our larger and more illustrious courses, visitors are still warmly welcomed but there might be a queue to get on, or a slow round might become irksome.  I'd taken the precaution to check in advance whether the club had a competition on and whether I'd be able to turn up and play, as I was hoping to squeeze another game in at the Isle of Seil course later in the day.  There was indeed a medal competition on, but getting on wouldn't be a problem, particularly since I was playing for charity.  Small clubs like this face formidable financial challenges, so I'm extremely grateful for the concession of a complementary round and the excellent lunch and the opportunity to meet the Club Captain and Match Secretary during and after my round.  On some occasions, playing so many different courses can become routine, you play the course and move on to the next.  Not so here and I'll long treasure the memory of the outstanding welcome I received.  As I've said before in this bog, it's too tempting for visiting golfers to favour the bigger courses and to test themselves on championship circuits, without venturing off the beaten track to enjoy the many smaller (and often more playable) courses that Scotland has to offer.  I just wish that more of our golfing tourists (and Scottish golfers) would do some more exploring.  Lochgilphead is well worth a visit and the members will ensure that you're amongst new friends.

The course starts with a deceptively simple looking 297 Yard Par 4, with dry stone walls bordering a narrow fairway that slopes from right to left.  Don't be too ambitious though, as a stream in front of the green will catch the unwary.  The 2nd is a 360 yard Par 4 that takes you back towards the clubhouse.  If like me you slice your ball onto the 1st fairway, this hole plays a lot longer than it looks.  The 3rd is a 114 Yard Par 3 played steeply uphill to a small shelf of a green, as shown here.  The club had tried to change this hole recently to reduce the steepness of the slope, without success.  Space to the right of the existing hole and the 4th tee might allow the insertion of an alternative green, reducing the length of the hole and the severity of the slope and reserving the existing green for medal play.  However, that could also be pricey.  The 4th is an easily drivable 214 Yard Par 4, made tricky by a wickedly sloping 2-tier green.  Even if you drive the green (which I missed to the left) 2-putting is still a challenge.

As shown here, the 6th is probably the best hole on the course, a 382 Yard Par 4, played from an extremely elevated tee over gorse to a wide fairway that offers little run.  A stream cuts across in front of the green, so you either lay up short or take the risk of a high score.  I wimped out for once (I'm claiming good course management!) and played an easy 7 iron and a lob wedge to the green on my way to an easy bogey.  The 7th is a narrow 124 Yard Par 3 with trouble on both sides that played shorter than it looked.  Just hit the ball straight.  I'd only taken a half set of clubs, including my 9 and 7 irons.  The 9 might have been the wiser choice from the 7th tee as my attempted 7 iron punch was way too long, leaving me to scramble a par with some difficulty.  The 8th is another good hole, this time a flat 264 yard Par 4.  A small river splits the fairway in 3 and has to be avoided twice, so position and accuracy is key, rather than big-hitting.  The last hole at Lochgilphead is a testing 131 Yard Par 3 played over a swamp and more water to small green cut into the left side of the 1st fairway.  I missed the green and had an awkward stance at the side of the Ladies Tee on the 1st, and an audience of local members.  A bogey was OK in the circumstances.  I'd gone round in 36 with 16 putts, only 4 over par, so that was a good start to the Coll/Tiree tour.  I'd really enjoyed the course and I strongly recommend you give it a try.

 I've left the highlight of my round to the last.  The 5th is a very difficult 170 Yard Par 3, played slightly uphill to a small green cut into the side of the slope beside the 4th tee, as shown below.  Overhanging trees add to the difficulty but there was just enough room to land my ball to the right of the green and let it roll down.  An easy 20 degree Rescue club was the choice from my half set, and the guy on the 4th tee could testify to my drive finishing a yard away (see the photo below) on the Stroke Index 1 hole.  This local member was also witness  to my successful birdie putt - and another £1 towards our cause from Gordon Simpson's generous sponsorship!  The 5th is a really good hole, so if you're tempted to play this great little course, try to get inside a yard, sink the putt and let me know, using the comments box below!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Bruntsfield Short Hole GC Summer Course - Course no 499

I'd played the BSHGC's Winter Course on 10 March 2012 (see my Blog entry for Course no 478) and as mentioned there, the Summer Course opens each April.  I played the Summer course on 1 May 2012.  The Summer Course is a 36-hole Par 3 Pitch and Putt Course Par 108, with holes ranging from 34 to 93 Yards.  The history of the course is detailed more fully in the above Blog entry, but golf has been played on the site since the 15th Century.  Nowadays, the course is owned and operated by the City of Edinburgh Council.  The golf is totally free and you can hire clubs and a ball in the adjacent Golf Tavern, the World's oldest golf clubhouse established in 1456.  This excellent pub also supplies scorecards and serves a range of great local beers, but I digress!

Although all of the Summer Course holes require only a flick with a wedge at most, the greens are tiny and fast-running so you need to land your ball short and hope for a kindly bounce.  As with the Winter Course, the Summer Course is divided into sections by public footpaths and you'd be wise to wait until spectators (students en route to and from the nearby University, young mothers out walking with toddlers or businessmen taking a shortcut to meetings, etc) are well out of range.  Most of the greens are also cut on slopes, and good shots from the tee will often run off into very light rough.   Even if you get a tee shot close, putting can be tricky, but most of the time it's still possible to rescue a par if you should just miss the green itself.  This is a view of the 3rd, with the 5th green (and my parked car) in the background.  If you're parking locally, allow at least 90 minutes for the round (£3 for the parking meter).  I cut it too close and was very lucky to escape a parking fine!

My national handicap had gone up to 10.5 on 28 April 2012, so I'm now playing off 11.  With that extra allowance my score for the 36 holes was 109 gross, net 87, or 21 under net par, with 58 putts.  Sounds good, but 6 birdie 2s on such short holes was easy enough.  The more telling statistic is that I scored a gross bogey 4 on 7 of the 36 holes (measuring between 40-63 yards!)  Here's a few random photos of the course and the Golf Tavern.

This is a map of the course, which thankfully is well sign-posted.