Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Lethamhill Golf Course - Course no 544

I'd played reasonably well in a competition at the weekend at my home course (see www.glengolfclub.co.uk) in sunny and very windy conditions, with our fairways running firm and reasonably fast.  So, with the weather forecast looking reasonably good for 1 October 2012 I headed West, with plans to play a couple of 18 hole parkland courses in Motherwell, a large town South East of Glasgow.  My first planned stop was at Torrance Park, but this course was looked to be pretty flooded, with only 9 holes open for play, with preferred lies in operation and fairway matts mandatory. There will be other chances to play there, so I moved on.  My second course was going to be at nearby Colville Park, but only 10 holes were open there and the Pro doubted whether any other local courses would be open, given the recent prolonged rain.   This was a salutory reminder of how lucky I am to be able to play over a course that's rarely closed due to weather problems, even in the Winter months.  (This the 13th our signature hole for those readers who've not played or heard of Glen GC before!)
Anyway, I decided to head into Glasgow to see whether any Council-operated courses might be open.  Lethamhill Golf Course is just off the M8 motorway a couple of miles from the city centre and is a 5419 Yard Par 70 parkland course operated by the City of Glasgow Council.  The Starter advised that although the course was open it was pretty wet underfoot - a masterful understatement as it turned out.  Having been raised in Glasgow, I know that Glaswegians are by nature very friendly, so it was no surprise when John, a local member, invited me to let him show me round the course.  The big surprise was that the course was open, since most of the fairways were completely water-logged, meaning we had to pick our way carefully between puddles of standing water and areas of mud to reach balls that were often plugged in the saturated ground.  Indeed, I doubt I've played in such consistently unplayable conditions anywhere on my travels around Scotland.  Put simply, the course should have been closed.  This was no place for my almost new Footjoys (one of John's pals who joined us mid-round had more wisely opted for work boots and waterproof  leggings). 
As John and his pal Johnnie commented, the course is well-designed, with an interesting layout that winds its way around and over some modest sized hills.  Johnnie had been a member of the local club for over 40 years and was "proud of his wee course" but it was easy to recognise why he was so concerned about its condition, which he reckoned was the worst he had seen it in all that time.  There's still a very good course there if you look carefully, but grass and weeds growing in the middle of unraked bunkers is never a good sign of effective course maintenance.  Serious investment is  also needed to improve the drainage and refurbish/replace dilapidated and wornout buildings.  Given the severe financial pressures facing the Glasgow Council, it seems unlikely that that level of investment will happen.  The course itself might be more enjoyable in dry conditions, but with the Winter coming, I doubt whether Lethamhill will dry out fully before next Spring.  Given the large number of good quality courses in the Glasgow area I doubt I''d want to play Lethamhill again, even in dry conditions.

I played Lethamhill OK in the conditions and putted remarkably well on greens that were faster and in better condition that they looked.  I scored a good 79, net 69 with 28 putts.  Here are some views of the course.  This is the 2nd hole, a 315 Yard Par 4 played towards the motorway with a blind second shot over fairway bunkers.

This is the uphill 13th, a 230 Yard Par 4.  Avoid the line of trees and its a short pitch to the large green.

This is a view over the North of the city from the 14th fairway, one of the few parts of the course relatively unaffected by casual water.

1 comment:

  1. I quite enjoy the rolling hills of Lethamhill of a Sunday morn. Delightful.