Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Craggan Golf Course - Course no 535

This is a pay as you play 14 hole Par 3 course and the home of Craggan GC on the road between Aviemore and Grantown on Spey (where there's a lovely 18 hole heathland course that's a joy to play and where Polly scored a hole in one!)  The Craggan course is great fun, with a succession of superbly designed short holes ranging from 51 to 209 yards.  The course measures 1741 yards, par 42 from the Yellow tees, but is significantly longer and more difficult from the White tees which I played from.  Craggan is parkland in nature and was in fantastic condition with  small undulating greens that looked great and putted far faster than I'd expected.  Indeed, I soon learned that extreme care was needed to land any pitch in the fringe grass rather than attempt a more direct approach.  As a pay as you play course in a holiday area, I suspect that Craggan has to cater for a wide range of abilities, from casual tourists out for a fun game to more serious golfers keen to sharpen their short game.  Some of the holes are simple enough but others would certainly not be out of place on top-quality parkland courses, particularly off the White tees.  For example, this is the outstanding 3rd.  The Yellow tee is hole-side of the pond and the hole from there is only 111 yards, but from the White tee the 3rd is a more meaty 150 Yards+, uphill to a small plateau green that's well protected by trees on both sides.
The 8th is also very good, as shown here.  This 162 Yard Par 3 is played steeply downhill from an elevated tee and the fairway slopes towards a pond protecting the left side of the green.  When I played at Craggan the strong wind was gusting from the right on this hole.  Factor in that 4 guys in front had stood aside to let me play through and the tee shot became really testing.  I took my 20 Degree Rescue and found the light rough between the pond and the green, hit a good lob wedge to 2 feet and holed out for a good par. 
My friend Douglas reckons the 12th at Craggan is the shortest golf hole in Scotland at only 51 Yards and as he's also trying to play every Scottish course (with around 415 played to date) he's well-qualified to make that comment (although I'm not sure he's right, having just played the 1st at the Brora Pitch and Putt Course, which looked to be well under 50 yards!)  You'd think that a 51 Yard Par 3 would be simple, but this little hole is well protected by trees and the green is very shallow, with a band of heavy rough behind the green, ready to swallow anything remotely overhit.  I managed a par, but it took a good single putt from 12 feet!  Craggan is a must play fun course, ideal as a stop off between the Central Belt and the more distant Highland courses.  There's a good cafe and putting green on-site and I'm just amazed that after driving past this course umpteen times over the years on the way to the Humpties' annual golfing base in Elgin, it's taken me until now to play this excellent course.  Strongly recommended.
A couple of closing photos of the difficult 13th (just hit a 7 iron very straight) and the 14th - is there another 14 hole course in Scotland? I really can't remember any others.

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