Polly and I had driven over to stay overnight in Tain after my quick game at Lochacarron so we both played the 18 hole heathland/parkland course at Alness GC on the North side of the Cromarty Firth a few miles north of Inverness early on 21 August 2012. We'd started on the 10th to avoid being held up by some members who were about to tee off from the 4th (you'd need to see the layout to see the logic involved!) Alness is short at 4725 yards, Par 67. Maybe it's just that there's a fair distance between some of the holes on the back 9 in particular and with some substantial hills to tackle in steamy hot sunshine, the course felt and took a lot longer than we'd expected. Taking the Back 9 first, Alness was also tight, requiring accurate positioning rather than power off the tees. This is the view from the 12th tee, a 319 Yard Par 4. Your second shot will be blind uphill and needs to be very straight!
Avoid making a complete mess of that one and you come to the 92 Yard 13th, a Par 3 that's completely blnd from the tee, as shown here. The small marker pole in the centre of this photo is your line, but don't go left, long or right. Short isn't too clever either and the green is wickedly contoured, so you have my best wishes! I scraped a 4 and Polly had considerably more than that, so be warned. I'm not a great fan of blind short holes, but this one is a little gem and forms a good link to the 14th, another very testing hole.
This is the daunting view from the 14th Yellow tee (the Medal tee being even further back). This Par 4 is only 391 Yards and should be easy enough if you get your drive away. I'd assumed that the big tree to the right of the fairway in the middle of the photo was out of range, so that caused me a treble bogey 7. Good hole, though. The back 9 closes with another blind Par 3, this time 153 yards over a large hill, overlooked by the clubhouse outdoor decking (where, no doubt, much fun is to be had watching others struggle on this difficult closing hole).
The Front 9 at Alness is considerably longer and more open but with just as many slopes to contend with. I particularly liked this, the 9th, a 354 Yard Par 4 played downhill from an elevated tee then uphill to a plateau green. I'd scored 81, net 70 or 3 over net par, with 28 putts on good greens. Birdie 3s on the 365 Yard Par 4 3rd and the short 270 Yard Par 4 17th were both very pleasing. I'd also tied with Polly in the latest game in our annual Summer Trophy competion to maintain my narrow half-point lead 5.5 to 5. We both liked Alness and would strongly recommend it, but take a few spare balls unless your brave (and good!)