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.

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