Sunday, 26 August 2012

Tarbat GC - Course no 526

We'd been planning to play at nearby Invergordon GC after our round at Alness on 21 August 2012, but lightning and torrential rain as we approached Invergordon led to a change of plan.   I'd been planning to play the 9 hole course at Tarbat GC and a couple of other courses the next day, so with the weather looking decidedly changeable, I thought that a quick round at Tarbat might be more advisable.  I'll need to play Invergordon GC some other time.  Tarbat GC is in the tiny fishing village of Portmahomack, a few miles East of Tain, where were based for a second night.  I'd been expecting Tarbat to be quite an  unpretentious 9 hole village course.  OK, it's in a village and is certainly unpretentious, with a modest little clubhouse and honesty box system, but it's actually a 10 hole course and one of the best small courses I've played in ages.  I'd also been expecting it to be a parkland course, but with fast running sand-based fairways and greens this was clearly a links layout.  It was also in fantastic condition and an absolute joy to play. 
The scorecard shows Holes 1-9 as 2313 Yards, Par 34, but when the course is played as 18 Holes, Holes 1-6 and 17 and 18 are played twice, with the 124 Yard Par 3 7th Hole being played only on the Front 9 and replaced on the Back 9 by a completely separate 155 Yard Par 3 16th Hole.  I didn't have time to play 18 Holes, so I played Holes 1-9 and 16 once each.  Accordingly, I played all 10 holes as a 2468 Yard course, Par 37. I played with Ray, a local member who had just started playing golf and who's very lucky to have such a great wee course to learn on.
Tarbat starts with a couple of modest Par 4s of under 300 yards made trickier by the small fast and sloping greens and really gets going on the 3rd, a testing 385 Yard Par 4.  The best hole is probably the 8th, a slightly downhill 265 Yard Par 4 with a really awkward green that's hard to find and hold, as shown here.  I bogeyed that hole, but played well overall to go round in 39, 2 strokes over the par of 37 for the 10 holes with 15 putts, or net 4 under par.  Tarbat is a wee bit off the well beaten track to the world-famous links at Royal Dornoch GC, but is definitely worth the short detour.
I suppose what I liked most about Tarbat was the peace and tranquillity of the place on a perfect Summer's afternoon, with good golf and good company and only the odd skylark as a distraction.  I don't really know why Tarbat has 10 holes and it somehow didn't seem relevant to ask Ray about that.  I was just glad that it did.  I strongly recommend that you make the effort to play here and enjoy the peace and quiet.  This is the 5th, with a river and an old castle in the background.  Again, I don't know their names, but they certainly fit the background to a lovely little course that I hope to play again sometime.  Mind you, 2 over par would be a difficult score to beat! 

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