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....