Wednesday, 7 November 2012

King's Links Golf Winter Course - Course no 554

I'd stayed overnight in Aberdeen on 5 November 2012, eager to play another couple of local courses, but there had been heavy overnight rain and another quick look at the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre suggested I should head for a links course.  The King's Links Course is an 18 Hole links course in central Aberdeen that normally measures 5799 Yards, Par 71 off the Yellow Tees.  This course is also operated on behalf of the Aberdeen City Council, and I was issued with a Winter Course scorecard and assured that the Winter course was definitely in play.  As I was to discover, this meant that most of the course was played backwards or that some holes were played out of sequence to the normal Summer layout.  For example, the normal 18th green, as shown here, was the green for the 3rd Hole.  For any readers interested in football, the ground in the background is Pittodrie, home of Aberdeen FC.

Temporary tees were in use and as I went round the course, the scorecard I was given appeared to correlate with distances to temporary greens.  However, the full Summer greens were in play on all holes, meaning that actual distances bore no relation to scorecard distances.  For example, the 10th Hole on the scorecard (the 9th during the Summer) was a 146 Yard Par 3, but according to my Bushnell laser range finder, the hole was a 318 Yard Par 4.  The 12th was apparently a 147 Yard Par 3, yet I measured it as a 341 Yard Par 4, played blind for both the tee shot and second shots.  Confusing or what? The greenkeeper confirmed that the normal greens were in operation over the Winter when the weather was mild enough (as it clearly was when I played the course) and he recognised that there were considerable differences between scorecard and actual distances when the full greens were in play.  However, he confirmed that since the Winter Course was being played in a completely different configuration to the normal layout, there were in effect 2 separate 18 Hole King's Links courses.  A local golfer that I met also confirmed this, adding that although he had offered to give the Dutch management company in charge of Aberdeen Council's golf courses yardages to the normal greens from the Winter tees, that offer had not been taken up and that as matters stood, there was no accurate scorecard matching the course that I was playing.  I'd been following a 4-ball for the few first few holes but when they kindly let me play through I'd no-one ahead of me and with few signs to follow and clear differences between the scorecard and what was visible from the tees, it was pretty difficult to navigate my way around the course.  Thankfully, a guy walking his dog helped me with directions over the closing holes.
I'd found another new course to add to our list, but this was another deeply frustrating round.    I'd not thought to measure every hole as I went round, but I reckon the Winter Course, as played to the normal greens, is about 5700 Yards, Par 70.  Compare that to the Winter Course scorecard as issued to me, which gave the measurement of 4156 Yards, Par 64!  I played pretty steadily despite the distractions of not knowing where I was going and not being able to trust the scorecard.  I was out in 39, back in 35, but the real highlight was the 11th, a 170 Yard Par 3 (as measured by my laser) that's played as the 10th on the "Summer Course" as shown here.  I hit my 20 Degree Rescue to within 20 inches of the hole for the easiest of birdies.  Some good putting on excellent greens helped the scoring too and overall, I was round in 74, net 63, or net 7 under par, with 28 putts. 

The Winter course is a good test of links golf.  It's just a pity that there was no scorecard for the course that was in play.  There's really no point in going to the trouble of creating  a scorecard using temporary greens and then asking golfers to play to normal greens that make the course around 1550 yards longer and increase the par by 6 strokes.  With a little more effort, the management company in charge of this course could easily have made my round more enjoyable.  I still need to play the Summer Course at King's Links sometime, but when I do, I'll also need to remember to ask whether it's the right course and that there's a proper scorecard! 

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