Wednesday, 23 May 2012

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.

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