Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Dalmilling Golf Course - Course no 508

This is an excellent 18 Hole parkland course measuring 5331 Yards, Par 69, off the Yellow Tees, on the east side of Ayr that is clearly visible from the A77.  The Dalmilling course is owned and operated by South Ayrshire Council and was in outstanding condition when I played it on 20 June 2012 after my round at nearby Roodlea.  This course had been threatened with closure a few years ago but I really hope that threat has been removed, as this is a really good course and in my view is far better than some of the others operated by the Council e.g. Seafield and Maybole.  The greens were consistently excellent, smooth and even-paced (after all of the recent rain) and the fairways were simply immaculate.  Some "Cooncil" courses can be below average at best, but Dalmilling was excellent overall.  Maybe a bit more signage and/or a course map on the scorecard would help and some of the bunkers looked pretty tired, but these are relatively minor criticisms.

Dalmilling starts with a downhill 437 Yard Par 5 and it's a long way to find any rough, given the width of the fairway.  Nevertheless, I found light rough to the left but still had a great lie.  There is some serious hay in various places, but you'd need to be really offline to find it.  I'd an easy opening par after just mis-reading a short putt, but it was already obvious that was a good course!  Holes 2-8 are in a separate section of the course over a minor road and are mostly pretty flat.  My neck injury was still playing up and my swing tempo was literally hit or miss!  My favourite hole on the front 9, well second favourite to the 1st, was the 6th, a 115 Yard Par 3, as shown here. A stream runs to the front, right and back of the green and the green itself is cambered down to the stream, so anything over-bold risks a watery fate.  I'd played safe, hitting a wedge to the middle left of the green, leaving a 20 foot putt with around a foot of break, which I just missed.  Still, par there was good.  The 7th is the Stroke Index 1 hole, a 292 Yard Par 4 with the drive played semi-blind over a small hill.  I'd hit Driver off the tee, not knowing that the fairway took a sharp dog leg left (a course map would have really helped here) and found heavy rough.  I was only a short wedge away from the wide and shallow plateau green but I sha---- my pitch way right onto the 8th tee.  From there, an overhit pitch and run left me with a 40 foot putt from off the green.  Double bogey was looming but I managed a hugely unlikely putt thanks largely to the quality of the green to salvage an equally unlikely par.  Another easier par at the 262 Yard Par 4 9th meant I was out in 38, only 4 over.

The back 9 at Dalmilling is over 500 yards longer than the front 9, is considerably more undulating and if anything is even more open.  This is the 10th, a 329 yard Par 4.  A reasonable drive clears a small hill and leaves a steeply downhill pitch to a small raised green, with the A77's constant traffic in the background.  I'd just gone through the back of the green with an easy wedge, but got an easy enough par from there.  The 11th looks innocent enough, being a short 305 Yard Par 4, with the tee shot played over a small hill.  However, the fairway slopes from left to right on the other side of the hill towards a pond that isn't visible from the tee.  Luckily my ball had run into some ground under repair just short of the pond.  Again, a course map on the card would have helped, but I'll be aiming well left next time.  The 12th is a largely uphill 373 Yard Par 4 running parallel to the A77 road and is a really strong hole, but my favourite on the back 9 was the 17th.  This is a 446 Yard Par 4 played downhill off the tee and then slightly uphill to a green shelved into the slope.  I'd hooked my drive towards some bushes that cut across the corner of the dog leg on the left side of the fairway and had to hit a lob wedge over them to get a sight of the green.  I then missed the green on the left with my 20 degree rescue club, pitched close and escaped with a single putt bogey.  Good hole, though, especially if you can find the fairway off the tee, which is further right than you might think!

The final hole at Dalmilling is a 409 Yard Par 4.  The fairway slopes from right to left and unless you've hit a huge drive you'll only see the top of the flag for your uphill second shot to the green, which plays longer than it looks.  I bogeyed that hole for a gross 79, net 68, or 1 under net par, with 30 putts.   I'd hit a few really poor shots and had some lucky escapes, in an adventurous round that I'd thoroughly enjoyed.  Dalmilling is a really good course, which I'd strongly recommend. 

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