Saturday, 28 July 2012

Brancumhall Pitch and Putt Course - Course no 523

I played here after my earlier round at Langlands on 27 July 2012.  To give this little parkland course its full title, the Brancumhall, Adult and Junior Golf Development Centre and 9 Hole Mini Golf Course is a pitch and putt course in East Kilbride that caters primarily for beginners and those wishing to sharpen their short game.  The 9 holes vary between 33 and 82 yards, with the Adult Par being 28.  The greens are tiny but were actually considerably faster and more even than I'd found earlier in the day at Langlands.  This is the 2nd, a downhill 73 Yard Par 3.  For me, the challenge was to hit and hold the greens with 9 iron pitches and make some decent putts.  With the greens running so fast and being so small, I only made 4 greens in regulation.  However, I made a 3 on each of the holes to go round in 27 with 13 putts. 

This is the 5th, a slightly uphill 82 Yard 4 (yes, a Par 4!).  This is a really good community facility offering an ideal opportunity for youngsters to develop an interest in golf and for more experienced players to develop their short game skills.  Brancumhall was in great condition and although it was still pretty windy, the earlier rain showers had been replaced by warm sunshine.  It was therefore disappointing that I had the course to myself - where were all of the local kids on their school holidays?

Langlands Golf Course - Course no 522

This is an 18 hole parkland course in East Kilbride a largely industrial and commuter town south of Glasgow.  The course is owned and operated by South Lanarkshire Council and is the home of Langlands GC, a non-course owning private club. Langlands is 5957 Yards, Par 70 off the Yellow tees.  I'd not booked ahead and just turned up on spec on 27 July 2012.  The car park was alarmingly busy and there was a substantial queue waiting to tee off.  Luckily, there had been a late cancellation and if I could be on the tee in 5 minutes....  That, sadly, was the only time I was able to move at anything more than a snail's pace.   It's difficult to identify precisely what the problem was, but from what I saw of the many golfers ahead of me, few could play to even a modest standard.  It would have been easy to get impatient and I do sometimes find slow play deeply frustrating to the point that it affects my game, but on this occasion I managed to keep my cool, since I was really lucky to get on in the first place. Four hours+ for a single player on a tight course of less than 6000 yards is not good and on the basis of the number of groups behind me who gave up and walked in, I reckon I spent over an hour hanging around between shots waiting to play.  Normally I'd have expected to be invited to play through, but it looked as though there were 2 or more groups on every hole, with queues forming on the par 3 tees, so it was just a case of accepting that this would be a slow round.  if you ever want to play here, I suggest you book in advance.

Langlands is a decent enough course and was in pretty good condition overall, despite some greens being slow and bumpy, with others running faster and smoother, but I didn't think the design was particularly challenging.  For example, this is the 6th, a downhill 463 Yard Par 5.  By the time I'd reached that hole, some squally showers were blowing through on a strong gusting wind that would increase to almost gale force by the end of the round.  This wind helped me to maintain my interest and keeping control of the ball became the main challenge.  The 6th is a modest Par 5, the main difficulty being to hit a couple of reasonably straight shots and decide whether to lay up short of a cross bunker 90 yards out, or take it on. Being downhill and downwind, it would have been a far better hole as a Par 4, albeit way beyond the limitations of the folk playing ahead of me, the best of whom took something like an 8. 

The back 9 is probably the better half, with some modest slopes, the odd blind shot and water hazards adding to the interest.  This is the 12th, a 466 Yard Par 5 requiring a long drive over water hazards to find the fairway, with the second shot being played blind over a small hill. I'd hit a good drive and 3 Wood and was just short of the green, leading me to think that on some other parkland courses this would probably be a very strong Par 4 (note the 6 golfers still waiting to play on the next tee!).  The back 9 is also slightly more exposed to the wind, with downwind holes being a Driver and short iron and even some of the shorter Par 4s into the wind needing Driver and 3 Wood/Rescue clubs.

I'd gone out in 7 over par after a double bogey on the 2nd, the Stroke Index 1 hole, played directly into the wind, but I birdied the 10th, a 357 Yard Par 4 played into the wind (and rain) and then parred the next 5 holes in some of the toughest conditions of the whole round.  The rain stopped completely for the last 3 holes and I was safely back in 36 strokes, only 1 over.  I'd gone round in 78 gross, 67 net, with 32 putts.  Three strokes under net par was a great score in the conditions, especially as the pace of play was so desperately slow.  This is the 18th green, with Langlands GC's clubhouse in the background.  There are some really good courses in the area, notably East Kilbride GC and the excellent pay as you play course at Playsport.  I'd prefer to play them again, given the choice.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Port Glasgow GC - Course no 521

I played here on 24 July 2012 on a dry and mainly cloudy day that became increasingly humid at the round progressed.  After what seems like weeks of almost constant rain the course was pretty wet underfoot, with the greens in excellent condition but far slower than I'd prefer.  Port Glasgow is a hilly moorland course measuring 5567 yards, Par 67 from the Yellow tees.  After an easy looking Par 3 opener, this course then hits you smack in the face with its Stroke Index 1 hole, a formidable 342 Yard Par 4 that's as steep as you'll play without the ball running back to you.  I'd hit a good Driver and 3 Wood but was still slightly short of the green.  If you ever play here, remember to leave your clubs 100 yards short of the green as the 3rd tee is to your left from there.  Your second shot on the 3rd will be blind, so have a good look at this hole on your way down from the 2nd green.  Thankfully, most of the remaining holes on the front 9 are relatively flat and easy walking.  The 4th is a good 505 Yard Par 5, but there's dead ground in front of the raised green so this hole plays considerably longer than it looks.  This is the 5th, a slightly downhill 427 Yard Par 4 and my favourite hole on the front 9.  The front 9 is 360 yards longer than the back 9 and I was out in7 over the Par of 35.
The 10th is a short Par 5 at only 460 Yards with OOB all the way down the right of the fairway.  The green sits in a dip beyond a slight rise in the fairway.  It's an easy enough hole if you lay up short of a bunker at the top of that rise in front of the green and hit a short pitch and run down to the hole.  I just missed the birdie putt.  The 11th is a 124 Yard Par 3 and supposedly the easiest hole on the course.  Easy, that is, if you avoid the OOB to the right and the 2 deep bunkers in front of the raised green.  I managed an unconvincing par after just missing the green off the tee.

The 12th is a testing 391 Yard Par 4 played downhill, as shown here, to a flattish section of the fairway, before the hole sweeps even more steeply downhill and slightly to the left.  My second shot had finished left of the green in heavy rough and double bogey was disappointing on such a good hole.  I really didn't rate the 13th, a steeply uphill Par 3.  Only the top half of the flag was visible from the tee, poking its head above a hill covered by gorse, heather, long rough and rock.  I guessed that the green lay immediately beyond the hill that was visible, but the green was actually 50 or so yards beyond that hill.  I'd only looked at the scorecard briefly and yardage markers at Port Glasgow are only provided on the white Medal tees, so I'd understood the scorecard to show this hole as 136 yards.  The correct yardage is actually 186, hence me being 50 yards short with my 27 Degree Rescue club off the tee!  Thank goodness I can putt, as I saved an unlikely par with an outrageous 25 footer with 2 feet of break!
I thought the best hole at Port Glasgow was this, the 16th, a 440 Yard Par 4.  The second shot is blind over an infinity edge on the fairway.  I hit a good 3 wood, my ball running down the hill to just short of the green.  A good par after another decent putt.  I'm not sure about the 17th, a 247 Yard Par 3.  This hole is steeply downhill, but a wide band of heather protects the front of the green, so unless you can fly the ball over that obstacle the wise tactic would be to lay up (on a Par 3!).  I really wasn't sure what to do, and my weak Driver ended up in the heather, costing me a bogey. The 18th is another downhill Par 3 this time a "mere" 210 Yards.  I'd mis-hit my 3 Wood right, leaving a copse of mature pine trees between my ball and the green.  Luckily there was a small gap under the lowest branches, but my low dunt with a 7 iron was poorly played and the resultant double bogey 5 was not the climax to the round I'd been looking for. 

I'd gone round in 80, net 69 with 29 putts.  2 over net par wasn't bad on a course that rewards local knowledge.  I'd hit some decent shots and some not so great, but I'd enjoyed the round.  The Port Glasgow course reminded me in parts of other local moorland courses such as Paisley, Greenock, Gourock and Skelmorlie.  I'm not a great fan of hilly moorland courses, though, preferring the vagaries of links golf on dry, warm and even windy days.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

McDonald GC - Course no 520

This is an 18 hole parkland course in Ellon a few miles from where we were staying for the week in rural Aberdeenshire.  The course is pretty flat and easy walking and at a modest 5600 Yards Par 70, shouldn't have taken me long to go round  (Polly was still not feeling great and sat this one out) .  However, a Seniors Match with umpteen 4 balls involved was on the course and I was behind it amongst an increasingly frustrated queue of local members.  The front 9 at McDonald is almost 800 yards longer than the back 9 and is the newer addition to what used to be a 9 hole course.  The design overall is reasonably good, but there's a clear contrast between the 2 parts.  The front 9 is more open and tricky, with longer holes, changes in elevation and water hazards, the back 9 being shorter with some almost driveable Par 4s, finishing with the best 2 holes on the whole course.  This is the 7th, a 170 Yard Par 3 with OOB to the left and trees to the right and behind the green.  A good hole.  The 8th is a 374 Yard Par 4 and the 9th is a 523 yard Par 5.  A drainage ditch about 2 feet wide crosses the adjoining 8th and 9th fairways just where decent drives might finish.  What are the odds of landing in such a narrow ditch both times? Pretty long, I imagine and I wish I'd had a bet on doing just that!

The pace of play slowed to a crawl on the back 9, reflecting the shortness of some of the holes.  I'd played with a local member on the front 9, but he gave up (the Clubhouse car park being between the 9th green and 10th tee) and I was soon joined by another couple of members for the rest of the round.  A birdie at the short 242 Yard Par 4 13th was perhaps the highlight of my round in terms of scoring, but the best hole on the course was definitely the 17th, as shown here from the tee.  This is a 428 Yard Par 4 played between stands of mature trees before the fairway sweeps steeply downhill dog leg left to a sloping green.  This hole is rated Stroke Index 4, but appeared to be far more testing than the 5th a shortish uphill 346 Yard Par 4 that somehow attracts Stroke Index 1.  It's simply a question of balancing the scorecard, but I thought the 5th was one of the easier holes at McDonald.

The last hole is a dog leg 404 Yard Par 4 aptly named "Twister" requiring a couple of really good strikes, particularly a fade off the tee to maximise the driving distance.  This is a view of the 18th green with Polly waiting (still), having finished her excellent book (Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith) and like me, in sore need of some late lunch.  I'd gone round in 84, net 73, with 32 putts, but I'd not really enjoyed my round much.  The pace of play was  certainly too slow, but I didn't find the course offered much of a distraction.  There some good holes and it was in great condition despite being almost as soggy underfoot as the other parkland courses I'd played in recent days.  Let's just say that there are better courses in the area that I'd play before giving this course another try.

Longside GC - Course no 519

This is an 18 hole parkland course a few miles inland from Peterhead in rural Aberdeenshire.  The course measures only 4708 Yards, Par 66 off the Yellow Tees and is one of the flattest courses I've played in a long time, with the only slope of any significance being a modest and short climb up to the 18th green.  I'd played a few holes in the rain at Cruden Bay in the morning but the afternoon looked more promising (fat chance!), so Polly and I started our round at Longside in high spirits.  We'd both looked at the scorecard and thought that as the course was so short, we'd both score well.  But to score on this course you need to be accurate and avoid tangly soaking rough, water hazards and lots and lots of trees.  The Longside course was also saturated after all of the rain it had taken in recent weeks and is quite low-lying, so with no run on the fairways and slowish greens, Longside was playing far longer than we'd expected.  Casual water and plugged lies were a problem, but that unavoidable factor aside, the course was in great condition.

Longside was formerly a 9 hole course (what are now holes 1-3 and 12-18) with the newer holes located on top of the former village dump site "over the road" in a low lying section with the River Ugie meandering through it.  Best hole on the front 9 is probably this, the 185 Yard Par 3 5th.  Played over the river and slightly uphill, this hole plays longer than it looks! With the underfoot conditions being so difficult, I was finding it easier to bogey holes than par them and the harder I tried the worse it got.  The front 9 is just over 2700 Yards Par 35, playing nearer to 3000 in the conditions, but even so, I was out in a feeble 43.  The back 9 is only 2001 Yards, Par 31, so maybe my scoring would be better.  Aye, right.

The 10th is a flat 339 Yard Par 4.  I'd found the lateral water hazard that runs up the right of the fairway with my drive and generally footered my way to a treble bogey.  Level 5s after 10 holes!  The next 4 holes are all Par 3s, the best being this, the excellent 131 Yard Par 3 14th, which demands you hit a straight tee shot between impressive stands of mature pines.  I was only a few feet wide to the right and clipped the top of the last tree, so yet another bogey.  the 15th is another good hole, this time a 333 Yard dog leg right Par 4.  Stay well clear of the trees to your right and you should be OK.

This is the 18th, a 286 Yard Par 4 that also plays slightly longer than it looks, with the clubhouse in the background.   I scored a poor 83 overall, net 72, with 32 putts, with Polly winning on the day by a considerable margin, to take our Summer Trophy score back to 5-4.5 in my favour.  Longside is a modest wee course, but you'll still need to play well to score and don't go thinking that just because it's short you'll murder it.  You won't, unless you take your A game and hole some decent putts.  Hopefully, you'll not be playing it in anything like the soggy ground conditions we faced, but I recommend you give it a try.  You'll also find the welcome as warm and genuine as you'd ever wish for, and thanks again to the ladies who donated so generously to our Cancer Research UK fund-raising efforts.  It's really appreciated.

There's 2 other unique things about Longside that I must mention.  I've now been in many a men's locker room/toilet on my travels, from the humblest shack (with the sign "please clean up any mess you make as we can no longer afford a cleaner") to more salubrious places with separate members and visitors toilet doors (that go to exactly the same communal place!) but Longside is unique in having a baby changing mat in the gents' locker room - unique that is, unless you tell me different!  Some ladies that we met in the clubhouse after our round did tell us the background to this gnomes grotto located in the trees to the right of the 15th fairway, but you'll have to go yourself and ask.  Longside is a great wee village course, well worth a visit and if you've a spare gnome....

Cruden Bay GC St Olaf Course - Course no 518

Polly and I had played the championship course at Cruden Bay before, most memorably when we managed to win the club's Mixed Foursomes Open a few years ago.  Cruden Bay is of course one of the best links courses in Scotland, consistently rated as one of the top 100 courses in the World and in the top 40 British courses.  However, there's also a 9 hole links course at Cruden Bay, the St Olaf Course, measuring  a modest 2463 yards, Par 32 and I played the St Olaf on 12 July 2012, on a cold, overcast and largely dry morning.  The St Olaf sits inside the loop of holes 1-7 and 18 on the Championship course and is an excellent test of links golf in its own right.  OK, the holes are shorter and don't have the majesty of some of the truly great holes on the main course, but the St Olaf still makes demands of your strategy, course management and ball striking skills.

The 1st is a flat 365 Yard Par 4.  The drive was downwind for me and easy enough as it's a wide fairway, but your second shot needs to be pretty accurate as the green is small and anything wide, short or even slightly overhit will leave you an awkward pitch to an undulating green.  I'd just missed the green to the left and needed a good pitch and a couple of putts to open with a bogey.  The 2nd is a 163 Yard Par 3 with a little hollow in front of the green and bunkers on both sides.  I missed the green and a bunker by a yard and was only 20 feet or so from the hole.  My decision to chip rather than putt was wrong, costing me another bogey.  Pars at the next 3 holes were good, particularly on the 3rd, a 375 yard Par 4 played directly into a strengthening wind and a shower of rain. 

The 6th is by far the best hole on the course and one that would grace many an 18 hole links course.  This is a dog leg 383 Yard Par 4 played over a dune before turning left to a small green nestling between grassy hillocks, with a deep steeply rivetted bunker to the left of the green adding to the challenge.  Your drive is uphill and needs to be long enough (240+) to give you a sight of the green.  This is a view from the highest point of the fairway as it dog legs left.  With the wind and rain coming almost straight into me on the tee, my drive was barely 200 yards, meaning I had a completely blind second shot over the sand dune to the left of the photo.  The safe shot would have been something like an 8 iron, leaving a short pitch to the plateau green.  Fool that I am, I went for a 23 Degree Rescue played down the grip and punched to keep it down under the wind.  Being pretty fit, I managed to hit the shot and run up the fairway in time to see the ball land on the very front right of the green, only to trickle slowly back down the steep slope, leaving me a completely blind 3rd shot.  There were no witnesses, but I heard my sand iron 3rd hit the flag, stopping only inches away for an easy tap in par.   A great hole.

The 7th is a tricky 123 Yard Par 3, as shown here.  I'd waited a couple of minutes for the tee just behind the green to clear (the 3rd hole on the Championship Course).  Anything short leaves a difficult pitch up a steep bank.  Anything long and you're either apologising profusely or exploring the gorse bushes.  With the wind still a problem, I'd punched a 7 iron to the left of the green, my ball then running off to the side, leaving a long pitch and run.  Bogey there, but this is another good hole.  The 8th, a 417 yard Par 4, is the longest and the Stroke Index 1 hole.  The green sits on a plateau with steep run offs on 3 sides and gorse bushes on the other.  I was just short in 2 in light rough but bogey was OK given the difficulty of my 3rd shot, since the flag was close to the front of the green.

This is the 9th, a 125 Yard Par 3, downwind  and for me, an easy 8 iron.  Gorse on both sides with severe bunkering protecting the raised green makes it essential to hit and hold the green.  I'd hit a good tee shot and a couple of putts secured the closing par.  I'd gone round in 36, only 4 over par, with 15 putts.  This is a great little course and was almost deserted when I played it in contrast to the steady stream of 4 balls with caddies on the Championship Course.  I strongly recommend you play St Olaf before you test yourself to the extreme over the main Cruden Bay course.  You can zip round here in just over an hour and if you par the 6th, well done!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Insch GC - Course no 517

We'd looked in at Insch GC on our way back to the cottage from Turriff, to find the course was still open but with puddles of standing water clearly evident between the clubhouse and the 1st tee it didn't look hopeful for the next day, (11 July 2012) when I was due to play in the Insch Men's Seniors Open.  It had also rained all night, but the forecast for the 11th was relatively dry, so against all the odds the Open went ahead.  However, when one of my playing partners reported that the water had gone over his golf shoes on the practice ground and we were splashing our way from there to the 1st tee, the prospects for our round didn't look great.  Indeed, one of the local members commented to me afterwards that the course would normally have been closed in such conditions and he thought that only the difficulties of rescheduling and the distances that some competitors had come to play had persuaded the Match Committee to go ahead.  Preferred lies on the fairways were in operation and with casual water in abundance, lift clean and place was essential.  This is the 5th fairway where conditions were particularly difficult and taking full relief was almost impossible.

Insch is an easy walking 18 hole parkland course and is also pretty short at 5350 Yards, Par 69 of the White Medal tees.  With no run on the fairways and some alarmingly tight holes, accuracy off the tee was essential, not my strongest point that day.  Insch is short, but there are 6 dog leg holes, some elevation changes, water hazards and OOB to contend with, so scoring here is not as easy as you might think.  For example, the guy whose card I was marking (a 6 handicapper) was going great guns until this, the innocent looking 8th, a 175 Yard Par 3.  Its name "Shevock Pond" says it all, as there's a lateral water hazard to the right of the fairway.  Having shanked his tee shot into the pond, the guy dropped his ball within 2 club lengths, keeping the pond between him and the hole.  Knowing the rules, I'd have dropped it on the far side, leaving a clear shot to the green and it was no great surprise when his next shot also went into the pond and he made quadruple bogey (ouch!)  A run of solid pars and birdies meant the guy had got himself back into contention by the 16th, a tight looking 487 Yard Par 5 with OOB on the left and a water hazard on the right.  His eventual 10 (with a good putt!) was another reminder that Insch cannot to be taken lightly.

There are some really good holes on this course, my favourites being the 11th and the 15th.  The 11th is a steeply downhill 90 degree dog leg left 285 yard Par 4.  the corner of the dog leg looks far closer than it actually is and a row of deep bunkers beyond the dog leg encourages you to be cautious in club selection.  I'd opted for an easy 27 Degree Rescue off the tee, but this was too short, leaving me blocked out by a stand of mature silver birch trees (all OOB).  A wedge over the trees looked good, but left me with a hanging lie above a plateau green that sloped away from me.  A double bogey was disappointing as I'd not hit a bad shot.  I'd just under-clubbed at the wrong time.  This is the 15th, a narrow and flat 278 Yard Par 4.  Your drive must find the fairway or you'll be blocked out by trees and your second needs to avoid water hazards to the right and in front of the green. 

Insch closes with a couple of good Par 3s.  The 17th is only 129 Yards and I should have made my birdie from under 6 feet, but sadly not.  This is the 18th, a more formidable 162 Yards between stands of mature pine trees.  Just hit the ball very, very straight and try not to 3 putt in front of the ghouls watching from the clubhouse windows to your left!  I pinballed my way through the trees on the right for a closing 6, but at least I didn't 3 putt.  I'd played Insch in almost unplayable conditions and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  It hadn't rained, but I'd still got soaked from the knees down after ploughing through casual water and saturated high rough.  I scored a poor 91, net 80, with 33 putts and well adrift of the leaderboard (24th place when I left!)  Thankfully, no-one else had played really well and the competition standard scratch was +3, Reductions Only, so I'm still at 10.7.

Insch was great fun and I recommend it to you.  I'm told that it's even better when it's dry and sunny and one day I hope to play here again in such conditions.

Turriff GC - Course no 516

Polly didn't feel up to a game after our hard day at Royal Aberdeen GC so I played at Turriff by myself on 10 July 2012.  Heavy rain was forecast and Turriff is a low lying 18 hole parkland course in deepest rural Aberdeenshire that was already pretty saturated even before I teed off, so she was taking a cautious decision - there was a lot more golf ahead of us.  Turriff looked to be relatively short at 5658 Yards, Par 68 off the Yellow Tees, but with the ground conditions being so heavy underfoot it was hard going at times.  Most of Turriff's holes are tree-lined, so it helps if you  find the fairways.  This is my "Position Z" off the 1st tee, en route to an opening bogey! I could see the flag, just, under the branches, but this was an early warning that accuracy rather than length would be important.

It was pretty easy to bogey consistently at Turriff by under-clubbing after finding casual water.  There was no run at all on the fairways and most balls simply plugged where they landed.  Similarly, the greens didn't look great after such incessant rain in recent weeks, but were really smooth, fairly fast and a credit to the greenkeeper's skills in such trying conditions.  Lift, clean and place on the fairways and try to keep control of the ball on the greens was certainly an odd mixture!  The first 3 holes are almost dead flat before the course turns uphill for the short Par 3 4th and the "longer than it looks" Par 4 5th, a couple of really good holes.  Best hole on the front 9 is probably the 6th, a steeply downhill 426 Yard Par 4.  If you ever play here, have a look at the 6th green when passing it while playing the 4th.  I didn't and therefore didn't spot this pond in front of the green, which is where my second shot ended up.  The pond is hidden from view by folds in the fairway when you play your second, so be warned.  Cost me a double bogey!

You might just spot some raindrops on the surface of the pond above and true to the weather forecast, it fairly chucked it down for the next 8 holes.  The 9th is a long steeply uphill 347 Yard Par 4 that takes you back to the clubhouse - tempting, but I wasn't going to wimp out, especially after scrambling an unlikely par on this difficult hole.  The fairway levels out after about 200 yards, so it's essential that you clear that off the tee - not easy when the rain is sweeping across the tee and 9 strokes out of your 11 handicap have already gone.  I'd just missed the green to the right with one of my Rescue clubs and thinned a lob wedge through the back of the green.  I'm usually decent enough with that club and was pleased to chip in from a poor lie.  Another good hole at Turriff and I was liking the course, despite the rain.

The 10th is an uphill Par 3 and is easy enough.  Next comes the formidable 11th, a 331 yard Par 4 played from an elevated tee, as shown here.  Tip - leave your clubs at the side of the fairway, opposite the 10th tee, as it's a long climb up to the 11th tee!  This hole played longer than it looks and I nearly lost my ball, despite splitting the fairway off the tee, after it plugged in a muddy lie, leaving only the very top of the ball visible.  By then the ground conditions were becoming almost farcical and aside from a 4 ball of local juniors on their school holidays, I had the course to myself.  The 12th is probably my favourite hole at Turriff, a dead flat 549 Yard Par 5 that in those conditions was playing closer to 600.  I managed a par with a long single putt, but it had taken me 4 full and well-hit shots to get to the green.  This is a particularly low-lying part of the course, but another good hole.  The rain stopped around the 15th tee and by the time I finished the round the raingear was packed away and the 4 ball of local juniors were back out for another 18 holes.  Good luck to them.  I just wish I'd had such opportunities when I was their age.

I'm not at my best in windy wet conditions so it was good to record a better inward half 39 against an outward 44.  83 blows, net 72 with 29 putts, so 4 over net par in those conditions wasn't too bad.  Turriff is a good little course, well worth the effort to find.  This is the 18th green from the path up to the clubhouse, with the 1st tee beyond it (not the easiest 1st tee to find - I had to ask in the Pro Shop!)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Royal Aberdeen GC - Balgownie Course - Course no 515

In a word, awesome!  The Royal Aberdeen GCs website emphasises that this is a very difficult course suitable only for those with a 24 handicap or better.  Craig plays off 2 at Carnoustie, no less, a championship links course with a formidable reputation.  Anyone who can lay claim to that handicap must know a thing or two about links golf and by the time Craig had finished his round over Balgownie, he was claiming that the front 9 here was more testing than the same stretch at Carnoustie.  I've certainly played nearly all of the great Scottish links courses, apart from Turnberry Ailsa and I'd certainly agree with Craig on that one.  When Polly, Craig Stu and I played the Balgownie course on 9 July 2012, it was dry and cold, with a stiff wind making the outward 9 even longer and more testing.  This is how the club's website describes the course.  I've added my own comments in bold italics, with some photos.

"Balgownie is one of the truest linksland layouts in golf. It's a course to test the better golfer, one who can accommodate the many variable conditions this arduous links can throw at you. Balgownie's front nine holes rank amongst the very best in the world. No two are the same within a natural ecosystem, interspersed with rich turf and tight rolling fairways, that is a sheer delight to behold. The Balgownie course is a classic links layout - out through the dunes and back along a plateau. The 1st offers a wide fairway playing slightly downhill from the elevated clubhouse (the tee box set immediately in front of the clubhouse windows) before dropping into a deep hollow just before the raised green. On a course that is not known for its large greens, the 1st offers one of the more difficult, leaning towards you and sloping off to the left with Aberdeen Beach immediately behind."  This is a view of the 1st green, with my 3 intrepid compadres already sensing the scale of the challenge that awaited us.

"The following holes make up the most unaffected piece of golf terrain you are ever likely to encounter and worthy of all the praise and rancour that gets poured upon it. The 2nd is a wonderfully natural par 5, a long carry over grassy hillocks then on through the windy, winding valley with high dunes on the right and tangling gorse to the left. It can seem relatively calm in the valley and so it is easy to be deceived. Long, low irons along the markedly undulating fairway might help avoid the full strength of any bluster." A stiff wind was blowing into our faces on the front 9, adding to the challenge.  Polly had opted to play from the Red Tees, from which Balgownie is a hugely testing 6000 Yard test for even a low handicap lady golfer.  Now Polly can really play as I know to my cost sometimes, but on some holes even her best and straightest shots didn't reach the fairways, so she really didn't have much chance in those conditions.  I'd hit a really good drive off the 2nd tee, but as with so many of the Balgownie holes, the fairway was really, really  tight.  This is a view of the 2nd hole from the 16th tee.

"The 3rd is an exceptional, and by the stroke index the hardest of the Par 3’s on the course. The challenge is mainly due to its length, an elevated tee shot at 248 Yards off the championship tee and depending on the wind direction it can be everything you’ve got in the bag and more. There is the opportunity to land it short and to the right of the green, there the ball will tend to be gathered by the slopes and run down to the fringe or if it has the legs the green." Our tee shots from the Men's Yellow Tee at the 3rd were 210 yards, directly into the wind, from an elevated tee, playing something like 240+.  I opted for Driver aimed at a patch of light rough 200 yards or so away, in the hope of hitting it, finding my ball and scrambling a bogey.  That was really my only option and I was delighted to achieve it.

"Stroke Index 1 occurs at the 4th where you must initially find the fairway but just like the 3rd hole the high tee creates more of a wind influence. A good tee shot preferably down the right side of the fairway will allow a more favourable line into the long and narrow green." The 4th is only 377 yards from the Yellow tee, but into that wind it was playing 420+.  This is where my 3 wood second shot landed - note the narrowness of the fairway if you can't reach in 2 shots! "If you simply place the ball over 200 yards at the 5th it can be a good birdie opportunity, leaving around 130 yards into a well-protected green. A driver’s clearly not necessary as the hole becomes more difficult the closer in you get." But on a windy day even this short Par 4 is a beast.  The front-right greenside bunker (behind which the pin is often placed) gathers up everything so be longer on the approach.

"The 6th is another birdie chance, not a long Par 5 and hitting into a sunken valley. The 2nd shot is critical as the fairway again bottlenecks and the green is well protected by bunkers just short and front of the green, so going longer is best or lay up for a short pitch in. There is a pinch of fairway showing from the 7th tee indicating a dog-leg right but faint-hearted first-timers shouldn’t take chances and simply play a straight shot for position preferably on the left side of the fairway otherwise the least that could happen is you catch the fairway bunker on the right. From any fairway position, the narrow green entrance with its protective bunkers and mounds calls for judicious play. The two pot bunkers around 10 yards short of the green create an illusion that they are closer. It is a two-tiered green running across the putting surface so be mindful of the pin placement. The 8th is the course’s signature hole, a Par 3 that changes its spots to suit conditions, a 3-iron one day, a pitching wedge the next. Nine bunkers surround the green like dragon’s teeth and the only way home is straight down its throat." For us, the 7th played downwind, 139 yards playing around 125 as shown here.  An easy 8 iron looked about right for me but a 9 would have been better, as I 3-putted from 60 feet - easy enough to do on such difficult greens.

"The 9th curves right over the burn and climbs steadily up the dunes. A new bunker at 290 yards will catch those trying to get the absolute most out of cutting the corner. This leaves a long, uphill second shot so make sure you have enough club– at least one more to reach a long green. With gorse and thick grass on the left a visible deterrent, favour the right side once again."  At 436 Yards and uphill with a narrow fairway and severe rough either side, this is an absolute monster directly into the wind.  I'd played the front 9 well in that I'd hit every drive, found almost every fairway and hit my fairway shots pretty well.  OK, I'd 3-putted twice but after losing 4 balls after only just entering the rough on each occasion I was out in a shattering 54.  Not good and I was still waiting for my first par of the round.

"Home again turning at the 10th with the wind most often coming out of the southwest, Balgownie’s back nine is different in appearance and nature from the seaward holes but every bit the stalwart test and much improved over recent years. Less undulating than the front nine, the remaining holes use blind tee shots, hidden troughs and more difficult putting surfaces to oppose you. On the 10th, drive over the correct marker poles – coloured according to the tee you are on. Depending on wind direction a driver may not be not necessary here and a good tee shot should leave you with a mid to short iron into a green that slopes from back to front." This is a view back up the 10th, with the practice area of Murcar GC to the left - and another new course to add to our list of courses still to be played!  For those pondering their second shot to the green, there's a little ditch and water hazard right in front of the green, invisible from the fairway - nice!

"The 11th hole is straightforward protected mainly by its pin placement on a noticeably undulating green. Consider an extra club to allow for wind and avoiding the three bunkers which surround the front of the green. Find the correct side to where the pin is or you are left with a tricky putt or even in 3-putt country. The 12th to the 16th is a string of holes each with its own set of hazards aptly described by the name of the hole such as Blind, Dyke, Well and Hill. The 12th offers a wide tee shot and it is difficult to find the two pot bunkers on the right at 286 yards. The 2nd shot narrows considerably close into the green; stay around 100 yards short where the fairway remains wide. The green is an upturned saucer so it sheds the ball quiet readily. If you are playing into the wind, go short and wedge into the green avoiding the pot bunkers. The 13th is aptly named Blind due to its blind tee shot, and sometimes your second. Here, the best line is to hug the right side. A long drive that carries the hill will find a fairway that slopes and kicks the ball forward. The 2nd shot is awkward as the green is narrow front to back. Don’t miss this green as there’s trouble behind. A good drive away on the 13th could give you a birdie but make sure you hit the green with your approach. Depending on the tee of the day on the 14th a lay up, short of the dry ditch is recommended. A longer hitter can clear the ditch but it is a big penalty if you go in. Play to the right side of the fairway leaving round180 yards to middle of green so it’s a good two-shotter. Again this is a long green and favour the right side. Another blind tee shot occurs at the 15th with the harbour-side lighthouse being the line. This is another birdie opportunity into a big green with a relatively short second shot although employ enough club to carry the trouble. The concluding three holes form an excellent 4-3-4 finish. The 16th plays to the top of the hill giving a view of the green. Otherwise it’s a blind 2nd shot favouring the right hand side. If you clear the crest it's 160 yards to the front edge of a fast green that slopes front to back quite severely."

"The 187 Yard Par 3 17th is an outstanding example of the excellent short holes on this course. Longish and playing to a three-tiered green you must try and find the correct level. The prevailing southwest wind tends to push you away from trouble although you don’t want to go too long either." This is a sideways view of the 17th green from the adjacent Silverburn Course.  It doesn't look too initimidating from the tee and was playing to 165 yards off the Yellows but none of us made the green, despite 4 good tries.  I landed in the deep bunker bottom left of the photo and escaped with a bogey. Indeed, none of us made par!

"In terms of disguised difficulty, there are few that can top Balgownie’s 18th. From the tee it doesn’t seem so defiant but this is a par 4 to take advantage of the over-confident or over-tired. It requires two cracking shots; most members play it as a par 5. Avoid at all costs bunkers off the tee. In the summer with a great drive you could catch a running bound going through the dip leaving a mid to short-iron home. But mostly it is into wind with captivating rough and gorse either side. The green is slightly raised and like most Balgownie greens well protected with bunkers and this time (for good measure) out of bounds at the back. This ensures that you must remain as focused as you were on the first tee if you are to find this green in two."  I'd hit a good drive but found some heavy rough, finding my ball for once! A good third shot and I was on the left side of the green, only to see my ball trickle down the face of the first of 3 deep and steeply rivetted bunkers protecting the left side of the green.  The safest option was to play away from the hole and hope to 2 putt from distance, as anything played to the flag would go perilously close or into the other bunkers.  I managed the 6 and was finally round Balgownie in 98, net 87, with 34 putts, 2 gross pars and 4 lost balls.  A poor result, but just good enough to extend my lead over Polly to 5-3.5.  To be fair, though, some of the holes out there were just too difficult for her and the club's website is probably right to advise that the course is only suitable for lower handicap players.

Balgownie is a superb course which in past years has played host to the British Senior Open (Tom Watson won) and the Walker Cup amongst other competitions.  Together the Balgownie and Silverburn courses were a fantastic experience and our thanks go again to Royal Aberdeen GC for their generous help towards our efforts to play every course in Scotland.  We all had a great, great day and I'd strongly recommend that you give both courses a try.  Take a few extra balls, though. This is me on the 18th at Balgownie, happy to have survived (just) its test!

Royal Aberdeen GC Silverburn Course - Course no 514

Craig and Stu had risen well before sparrowfart on 9 July 2012 to play 3 short courses before joining Polly and I for rounds over the 2 excellent courses at Royal Aberdeen GC.  Silverburn is the shorter of the 2 at only 4021 Yards, Par 64, but don't go thinking that this is an easy course just because it's short.  There's heavy rough, gorse bushes, blind shots, tricky greens, narrow and in some cases madly cascading fairways, deep bunkers with steep rivetted faces and everything else that you'd expect on a traditional Scottish links course.  Accordingly, this is a real test in its own right and good scoring requires straight hitting, imagination and considerable patience.  We all loved this course.  This is the 2nd, a slightly downhill 255 Yard Par 4, well protected by severe bunkering.  An easy par if you get your drive away, but it was a windy day and far from easy.  The 3rd is even more tricky off the tee, with your drive having to avoid deep bunkering, gorse and rough either side.  I found a cavernous bunker on the 3rd after slightly underhitting a pitch and walked off with a double bogey, so that was an early warning.

This is the 17th, a great 143 Yard Par 3, with the small green set on a plateau at the end of a gorse covered ridge.  Craig played a fabulous shot that looked to be resting against the flag, but was actually a few feet behind the hole, after hitting the down slope short of the green and letting the ball run on.  I tried the same shot and was only just further away, so an easy par for me and a good birdie for Craig.  This hole wouldn't look out of place on any links course and Silverburn as a whole was a really good test for things to come in the afternoon on the awesome Balgownie Course.  I'd gone round in 76, net 65, with 36 putts so a good round and a narrow win over Polly, taking our Summer Trophy score to 4-3.5 in my favour.

This is Polly playing a great bunker shot at the last hole to within a few feet.  Silverburn was simply great fun to play, and I'd strongly recommend it.  As we were about to find out in the afternoon, Balgownie would be a far more daunting challenge. 

Fraserburgh GC Rosehill Course - Course no 513

Polly and I had played the 18 hole Corbiehill Course at Fraserburgh GC in 2010, but my plan to play the smaller 9 hole Rosehill Course immediately afterwards was thwarted by a thunderstorm and torrential rain.  Polly wasn't feeling great after our round at Fyvie on 8 July 2012, so I drove up to Fraserburgh myself to play the Rosehill Course.  This is a 2416 Yard Par 33 course and would be a good test of your links game before the greater challenge of the superb Corbiehill Course.  Rosehill is pretty flat with generously wide fairways and is simple enough if you hit the ball straight and avoid some cleverly positioned ditches, water hazards and bunkers.  If you don't, this wee course will bite your legs, big time!

The 1st on Rosehill is a flat 410 Yard Par 4 with the widest fairway you'd ever want to ease your way into the round.  However, a nasty little ditch cuts across the fairway, just where a good drive would run to - and there was no sign of the prolonged rain here, other than that the fairways were slightly softer and greener than might be expected at this time of year.  I'd hit a pretty good drive and was only a few feet short of the water hazard and just missed the green with my 27 Degree Rescue.  Still, an opening bogey was not too bad, as this was comfortably the longest hole on the course.  Here's a view from the 1st green back to the clubhouse.  The 2nd is a 165 Yard Par 3 played from a slightly elevated tee to a small green protected in front by a single cavernous bunker.  I'd missed the green by a couple of feet but had an easy par. 

The 3rd is a slightly uphill 294 Yard Par 4.  I'd hit a really good drive and a sand iron to within 15 feet.  The putt looked to be straight and uphill (all that caddying work has improved my green-reading no end!) and so it proved, for my only birdie at Rosehill.  The 4th is a mere 96 Yards, but is far from the easy Par 3 that you might expect.  The green is largely hidden behind a small mound and with the pin positioned only a few feet on and right behind the highest point on the mound, my tee shot looked to be quite tricky.  I'd tried to just clear the mound with a sand iron but my tee shot was a yard or so off line and short, so my ball ran off into light rough a few feet to the left of the green.  A scrambled par was good in the circumstances.  The 5th is a 380 Yard slightly uphill Par 4 with another generously wide fairway, but the green is further away than it looks so be generous with your clubbing.  An easy par for me, despite just missing the green in regulation by a few feet.

The 6th is a slightly downhill 155 Yard Par 3.  I'd hooked my drive slightly into moderate rough, but a good pitch with my sand iron set up another single putt par.  The 7th is a 244 Yard Par 4, but think twice before deciding whether to go for the green as there's another ditch to contend with, just short of the green.  I'd played short, pitched just short and scrambled another par.  The 340 Yard Par 4 8th and the 332 Yard Par 4 9th are probably the best 2 holes on Rosehill.  There are more ditches to avoid as well as OOB to the left and as shown here, a hollow in front of the 8th green makes things even more tricky.  I'd hit what I thought was a good pitch on the 8th only to find it had settled back into the hollow, so have a good look at this green before choosing a club for your approach.

I scored a good 35 gross, only 2 over par, thanks largely to having only 12 putts on good even paced smooth running greens, so well done me.  This is a really good links course in its own right and I'd recommend you play it as well as the more formidable Corbiehill course.  Fraserburgh GC is the 5th oldest Scottish club and the 7th oldest in the world and Corbiehill is one of a string of great links courses in the Aberdeenshire area.  The Fraserburgh clubhouse is also one of the most friendly I've been in lately and the Scotch pies are simply great - yes, that enduring symbol of the legendary Scottish diet is can be found here, but after playing either Fraserburgh course, a pie and a pint is the perfect finale, for me at least.  If you're ever in the area with our clubs, give this great place a visit.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Fyvie Golf Course - Course no 512

I'd still to play lots of courses in the Aberdeenshire area, so Polly and I rented a cottage near the ruins of Tolquohon Castle just south of the village of Tarves for the week 7-14 July 2012, with the intention of playing 10 more courses.  That was the plan anyway, but the wet Summer we're having was threatening to spoil things.  Indeed, when we got to the Edinburgh Bypass on the morning of the 7th, the road was badly flooded, with the water up to the axles of my 4x4 and posing a real problem for Polly in her smaller car.  The road was closed shortly afterwards.  We'd planned to play at Westhill GC near Aberdeen, but it was still chucking it down when we got there, it was a very hilly looking course and we decided to save our energies for the testing week ahead.  Accordingly, our first new course on 8 July 2012 was Fyvie, a 9 hole parkland pay as you play course near the village of Fyvie in rural Aberdeenshire.  The course had opened in 2003, built by its enterprising owner on former farming land and is currently being extended to 12 holes.  The timetable for completion is uncertain, but I'll happily return there to play the new holes once the extended course is open.  

We both really liked the Fyvie course despite the rain, mist and general gloom of a sodden Sunday morning.  The course is around 2830 Yards, Par 35 off the Men's White tees and is moderately hilly, requiring pin point accuracy on some holes.  For example, the 1st is a flat 302 yard Par 4, but with heavy and soaking wet rough on both sides, your only option is to find the narrow fairway with your drive.  The course was pretty lush due to the weeks of the seemingly incessant rain that's been the Scottish Summer so far, so the fairways were very slow and holding, with grass cuttings adding to the difficulty.  The greens were pretty small and slow, as might be expected after such rain, but aside from their pace, were pretty good.  We didn't notice at the time, but drainage here was really good, with the course in remarkably better condition than some that I'd play later in the week.  This is me on the 1st tee ready for the next round in the annual competition with Polly for our Summer Golf Trophy, with the scores tied at 3 matches each after our earlier rounds at courses in Vilamoura and Dumfries and Galloway.
The 2nd hole is a slightly uphill 246 Yard Par 4, with the fairway sloping down from left to right.  The second shot is longer than you might think!  The 3rd is a really tricky dog leg right 298 Yard Par 4, named "Splash" which should give you a clue, as a large pond awaits any drive slightly right of the marker pole.  The tee shot is played blind over a small hill and you don't see the pond from the tee, so be warned.  The 4th is a steeply uphill 183 Yard Par 3 which also plays far longer than it looks.  By the time we'd got there, the mist had really closed in and although publicity for the course refers to outstanding views of the surrounding countryside, we were lucky to be able to guess the location of the green.  This is a misty view of the 4th green, with the 3rd hole just visible in the background.

The 5th is the Stroke Index 1 hole, a 339 Yard Par 4.  I'd hooked my drive into heavy rough and lost my ball, running up a treble bogey in the process.  The 6th had recently been lengthened to something like 235 Yards, but was still, we thought, a Par 3.  The hole is slightly uphill, with an awkward 2 tier green.  I had a comfortable 4, but by then my score was level 5s, not what I'd hoped for on such a short course.  I'm often asked to comment on my favourite course in Scotland and it's easy to think about Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns etc. However, even on the most unheralded courses there's usually one hole that stands out as a really good well-designed test.  The 7th  is easily the best hole at Fyvie and one of the most memorable holes we played during our Aberdeenshire week.  This is a dog leg right 475 Yard Par 5,requiring an accurate drive avoiding OOB to the right and a hillock to the left of the fairway.  I'd hit a good drive right over the marker pole and a rescue club just past the dog leg corner.  From there, it's a 150 yards steeply downhill to a small green protected by a pond to the left of the green.  A bunker to the front right of the green would really tighten this hole, but maybe that's just me being too clever after finding the fringe of the green just 10 feet short of the hole with my 27 Degree Rescue third shot. I missed the birdie putt, but this is a really good hole.
I'm less sure about the 8th, a really tough uphill 425 Yard Par 4, which is considered one of the easier holes according to the Stroke Index.  The fairway is pretty wide off the tee, but narrows considerably towards the green, bringing heavy rough on the left into play for your approach shot.  That's where I lost my second ball, en route to an ugly 7.  Maybe this hole plays easier in dry conditions, but when we played it this was probably the toughest hole on the course.  The 9th is a fine slightly downhill 314 Yard Par 4, finishing as all closing holes should, right in front of the clubhouse windows. I'd hit a good drive and had only an easy 8 iron to the green, but regular readers of this blog will know that I'm occasionally prone to the odd sh--- so this is a sideways look at the 9th fairway and the clubhouse after "one of those."  That error led to a closing bogey and a poor 47 in total, with 14 putts, well adrift of my ambitions for the round.  Not surprisingly, Polly took the honours and surged into a half-point lead in our annual trophy contest.

Fyvie is a really good little course, well worth searching out.  Craig and Stu have yet to play here and I'm looking forward to joining them for another go at Fyvie, probably once the new holes have been added.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Broadlees Golf Course - Course no 511

The weather forecast for 2 July 2012 was pretty grim, with rain forecast throughout Central Scotland.  I'd been planning to play a couple of courses South of Glasgow, hoping to dodge the heaviest showers, so first stop was Hollandbush, an 18 hole heathland course.  The rain had stopped by the time I got there, but the course was closed due to flooding, with a second inspection due in an hour or so.  This was the second time I'd tried to play there, my first visit in 2009 also being wasted due to flooding.  I didn't fancy hanging around so I'll just try again sometime if it ever stops raining for long enough to dry this course out! 

I still have a few courses to play around the East Kilbride area, a commuter town South of Glasgow, so my next stop was at the Broadlees Golf Centre, just outside Strathaven.  This is a pay and play 9 hole parkland course, driving range and cafe that opened in 2002.  With so much rain around in recent weeks, the 2954 Yards Par 36 golf course was heavy underfoot but perfectly playable.  The greens were on the slow side thanks to the recent rain but overall, the course was far better than I'd expected and far better than most of the courses attached to driving ranges that I've played in my travels around Scotland. 

The 1st hole is a flat 328 Yard Par 4, slight dog leg left running along the left side of the driving range.  The flags at Broadlees were all partly red and yellow, so it was slightly confusing to see a yellow flag to the left of the 1st fairway, about 250 yards from the tee.  Turned out that someone had built a full sized green complete with a deep bunker in his back garden.  There was no sign of a teeing ground, so I'm definitely not adding that as a 1 hole golf course to our list of Scottish courses!  A water hazard cuts across the 1st fairway but doesn't come into play unless you've hit a huge drive.  I'd missed the green in regulation but a decent pitch and a long single putt (20 feet or so) saved the par.  This is the view from the 2nd tee.  A couple of beginners were playing behind me on the 1st and were still on the 2nd when I teed off at the 4th, so I guess they may have had trouble clearing the pond (110 yards or so)!  The 2nd is the shortest of the Par 4s at only 291 yards, but the green is quite small and sits on a ledge half way up a small hill.  I'd under-clubbed my second shot but another good pitch to within a few feet helped me rescue the par.

This is the 3rd, a slightly downhill 176 Yard Par 3.  I missed the green to the left with my 23 Degree Rescue, so a bogey there.  The 4th (Stroke Index 1) is an uphill 469 Yard Par 5, playing more like 500+ in the heavy conditions - and the heavy shower that started on that hole.  I missed a wedge to the green for my third shot and thinned a pitch and run (an awful shot!) so another bogey there.  The 5th is an uphill 430 Yard Par 4 that's even more tricky than the 5th, hence my double bogey in the heaviest of the rain.  Welcome to July in Scotland!

It's a 30 yard walk to the 6th tee but by the time I'd got there the heavy rain had stopped.  Only in Scotland.  The 6th is a 292 Yard Par 4 and the easiest hole on the course.  I'd hit a reasonably drive and had a short wedge to the green, which finished 4 feet away.  I'm usually reliable from that range so an easy birdie.  The 7th is a 456 Yard Par 4 with a stream crossing the fairway 150 yards out.  From the tee it looks as though there's tons of room to the right beyond the stream, but what you can't see is that the fairway slopes down to the right and that the stream turns to run all the way up the right of the fairway.  I'd hit a good drive but almost came to grief in the stream.  From there it's a blind second over a small hill, with the green protected by a small stream, as shown here.  I'd an easy sand iron to the green and got my par OK.  A good hole, that, but the drive is more testing than you might expect.

The 8th is a slightly uphill 327 Yard Par 4.  Nothing too difficult but I scored another bogey after a wedge to the raised green came up just short and plugged in muddy ground.  The 9th is a 185 Yard Par 3, slightly uphill, that plays a lot longer than it looks.  Another bogey after missing the green to the left off the tee.  I'd gone round in 41 strokes, 5 over par, with 14 putts.  I'd recommend you play this course if you're in the area with an hour to spare before tackling the excellent Strathaven GC course a mile or so down the road.  At £10, Broadlees is also great value.

I was hoping to play another course in the area and got as far as the deserted car park at a course in East Kilbride.  The course was flooded, with casual water clearly visible on the last green but the Starter said he'd let me play if I was daft enough.  I chickened out and was glad I did so, since 10 minutes into my drive home a torrential shower was enough to convince me I'd taken the right decision.