Thursday, 11 October 2012

Kinloss Country GC - Course no 549

Polly and I played here on 11 October 2012.  This is an 18 hole pay as you play parkland course in the village of Kinloss, a short drive east of Inverness and is the home course for Kinloss Country GC (annual subscription is £285 i.e. £15 less than the green fee for a round at Skibo).  My best buddy David had played Kinloss Country some time ago and didn't think it was all that great, so Polly and I weren't expecting the course to be very good.  I'd also played a number of soaking wet parkland courses in recent weeks, so we were both prepared for a soggy round on a mediocre course.  All I can say is that we thought Kinloss Country was in fabulous condition and after our exertions over the past few days, was an absolute treat to play from start to finish.  Indeed, this was the best parkland course I've played for a long time in terms of overall condition and sheer fun.
The course is a modest 5065 Yards Par 68 off the Yellow Tees and unusually for a full 18 hole course, starts with 3 Par 3s in succession.  I'd started bogey, par so had high hopes for a continued downward progression on the 3rd, as shown here, a steeply downhill 192 Yard Par 3.  I'd hit an easy 3 Wood into the fresh breeze to within 25 feet.  I'm a reasonable putter but got the pace all wrong.  As Polly said at the time if I'd missed the putt was headed off the other side of the green.  An early birdie was encouraging, but the next hole (a 335 Yard Par 4) was steeply uphill, so no chance of keeping the score progression going.  The Stroke Index 1 hole is the 6th, a 520 Yard downhill Par 5 - a really good driving hole. 
I also liked the 8th, a downhill 291 Yard Par 4 and another chance to let rip with the Driver.  This hole is blind off the tee, but there's a tree in the middle of the fairway to aim for, as shown here.  Clear that, as I did, and it's only a short wedge to the green.  The Front 9 closes with a 330 Yard Par 4 finishing right in front of the clubhouse windows.  I was out in 36, only 3 over par.  The back 9 is slightly longer and more challenging, the best hole being the 16th, a formidable 441 Yard Par 4, played slightly uphill and into the prevailing wind, with a cleverly designed shamrock-shaped green.  Bunkers help define the shamrock shape and this is a potential card wrecker.  I was happy enough with a bogey!  The 17th is also very good and at 324 yards is a short downwind Par 4.  The difficulty lies in the 50 yard long green, especially when the flag is at the very back, as it was when we played the course.  The green narrows from front to back and is slightly elevated so a tricky hole.
The 18th was slightly disappointing, finishing a good walk away from the clubhouse and it occurred to us whether the separate halves of the course could play better in reverse order, with the course ending on what is now the 9th green.  Just a thought.  I'd scored a gross 76, net 65, or net 3 under par, with 30 putts, so a good round.
Overall, we really liked the course and would strongly recommend it.  There's no great difficulty, it's just a fun place to play golf and was in great condition.  The weather we had was great for the time of year and this round was a fine way to end our short trip round 5 new courses.    If you get the chance to play here, try staying at the excellent Springfield Guest House in Forres and try the Cardamon Spice restaurant in the same town.  Best curry we've had in ages!

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