Thursday, 17 January 2013

Lochview Family Golf Centre - Course no 560

The Lochview Family Golf Centre is located in Coatbridge, an industrial town east of Glasgow and is a re-branding of the formerCoatbridge Golf Course, by its owner and operator, North Lanarkshire Council.  The centre consists of an 18 hole golf course, driving range and modern clubhouse.  I played the Lochview course on 17 January 2013 a bitterly cold day, with a heavy frost that thankfully had frozen parts of the course that would otherwise have been extremely boggy.  The Starter advised that although all of the course was open, most  members of the local Lochview Golf Club, which is based here, usually miss out holes 2-4, where drainage problems are particularly severe at present.  I'd started behind a couple of local members who were adopting that strategy, but since I was intent on playing every hole, this meant that I'd no one in front of me that I could follow.  I mention this because there were no numbers on any of the tees or flags, making navigation pretty difficult.  Temporary greens were in operation on some holes, reducing the course to something like 5000 Yards, Par 69.  However, the frozen ground meant that scoring was extremely difficult, particularly on the frozen greens.  This is the 5th, a 267 Yard Par 4 playing nearer to 250 Yards, with the driving range immediately beyond the OOB fence.  This is an easy enough hole if you hit your drive dead straight (as I did, thank goodness).  Otherwise, you can run up a double bogey or worse.
From here, advanced navigation skills were necessary to find the 6th tee.  There's a course map on the scorecard, but this measures under 2 square inches and with hole numbering at well under a millimetre high, is almost unreadable.  Indeed, I only noticed the map after I'd gone back to the Starter's Office to seek directions!  Holes 6-12 are on the other side of the busy Townhead Road that runs through the course, but you're then faced with a path that runs off in 3 different directions, with absolutely no signage to offer any guidance.  Nor was there any sign of the 2 locals who had started in front of me on the 1st.  The 6th was supposed to be a 165 Yard Par 3, but the flags on holes 1-5 had been Yellow, but there was a Red flag on the hole that looked to be a possible candidate for the 6th.  I gambled wrongly and ended up playing what turned out to be the 12th and then the 10th (with Yellow flags!), before stumbling upon the 6th, complete with its Red flag.  The North Lanarkshire Council has clearly spent a small fortune on the clubhouse and it's also done well  with extensive road-side signage to encourage public participation.  However, it's a real shame that no effort has been made to ensure that casual Winter visitors like myself can actually navigate their way around the course.  I imagine that signage is better during the Summer months, but there's really no excuse for the complete lack of any signage during the Winter.  Even some rudimentary numbering on tee boxes/litter bins would have helped and I do wonder how many potential newcomers to the sport have been put off by the lack of on-course signage. 
The front 9 holes were pretty short, at something like 2100 Yards in total, so my gross 39 (discounting the extra shots over Holes 12 and 10) was reasonable enough.  The back 9 is significantly longer and more difficult and I was happy with a homeward 42 for a total of 81 gross, net 70, with 35 putts.  This was only net 1 over par in really testing conditions, so not bad at all.  This is the 18th, a 345 Yard Par 4, with the clubhouse and driving range in the background.  The best hole is probably the Stroke Index 1 9th, a 372 Yard Par 4, played from an elevated tee and finishing with a good view of a small loch.  However, it was difficult to get enthusiastic about any of the holes, given my navigation problems.
Overall, Lochview is probably a decent enough parkland course during the Summer months, assuming that signage is improved and that currently boggy areas finally dry out.   I've played it once, but I don't imagine I'll ever want to play it again.

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