Thursday, 11 October 2012

Loch Ness GC Wee Course - Course no 545

This is a 9 hole pay as you play parkland course in Inverness measuring a short 1408 Yards, Par 29 that  complements the 18 hole Old Course that I'd played some years ago and which is home to Loch Ness GC.  Also available in the golfing complex are a driving range, golf shop, bar, restaurant, children's play area, function/conference suite, petanque, indoor bowls, forest walks, Travelodge, bakery, chiropodist, trophy centre and barbers, a uniquely diverse range of facilities in my experience!  The Wee Course was formerly known as the Wee Monster (doubtless another attempt to ride on the back of the famous and some say mythical Loch Ness Monster).  Application of the word "monster" to a golf course conjures up all sorts of imagined difficulties and challenges to golfing skills, but there's really not much of a challenge (or interest) to this particular course.
Polly and I played the Wee Course on 8 October 2012 at the start of a 3 day trip that would involve another 4 new courses in my golfing travels, but more of them later.  I'd been hoping that this course would be a good warm up for the challenges that those courses would present, but I'm afraid the Wee Course was disappointing in that respect.  The 1st hole is Stroke Index 1 (surely wrong in principle) and was a 154 Yard Par 3.  I missed the small green to the left and took 4.  This is the 2nd, a 109 Yard Par 3 played to a plateau green protected by a cavernous bunker.  An easy enough par there after a good tee shot.
My doubts about the Wee Course started on the 3rd.  This is a 274 yard Par 4 played from  the same tee and fairway as one of the holes on the Old Course, with players on the Old Course having priority.  Our green was located to the right of the fairway, with the Old Course hole going on for another 200 yards or so.  Neither course was busy, but I was left wondering whether this arrangement, repeated later in the round, ever led to delays and/or safety problems.  The 3rd green on the Wee Course is located high to the right of the fairway and is quite narrow, with banking behind it.  I'd hit a decent drive and had only a short wedge steeply uphill, but the banking behind the green is heavy rough and weeds, rather than a closely cut slope that would allow a slightly overhit ball to feed back down to the green.  The Wee Course is intended for family play and is apparently popular with beginners etc. so I wonder, on the strength of the 4 balls I found while looking for my own, whether heavy rough on this part of the course is entirely appropriate.

If you've had to give priority to players on the Old Course when playing the 3rd, chances are you'll meet them again on when playing the Wee Course's 4th hole, a 151 Yard Par 3 that's played from a separate tee to the green on the Old Course that started from the Wee Course 3rd tee.  You might also have to give priority to other Old Course players on the Wee Course's 5th, 6th  and 7th holes, which share either tees, fairways or greens with those on the Old Course.  Indeed, we'd just driven off from the 6th, an 81 Yard steeply uphill Par 3, when a ball landed in front of us from the Old Course tee to our left (which also serves as the 5th tee on the Wee Course).  Confusing and potentially dangerous.

This is the 8th, a downhill 155 Yard Par 3 with a large pond to the right and short of the green (where both of our tee shots finished).  By this time we were just trying to get off the course quickly to avoid the approaching rain shower, but a double bogey was disappointing nevertheless.  I'd gone round the Wee Course in 35 gross with 16 putts in little over an hour, after getting lost twice and looking for balls in needlessly punitive rough.  Neither of us liked the course much and in all honesty I wouldn't recommend it. 

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