Thursday, 4 April 2013

Colville Park GC - Course no - 566

I played this 18 hole parkland course on 4 April 2013.  Colville Park GC is in Motherwell, a large industrial town South East of Glasgow, and forms part of a former country estate gifted to the local community by the Colvilles, a family once locally prominent in steel manufacturing and the course was extended from 9 to 18 holes in 1925 following a design by the famous course architect, James Braid.  The course is 6011 Yards Par 71 off the Yellow Tees  and is split into 3 separate sections.  The first 5 holes are slightly lower than holes 6-8 (the road to the clubhouse separating these sections) with holes 9-18 spread out over higher land on the other side of a disused railway line.
This was my third visit to Colville Park  the course being partially or completely closed due to flooding on the 2 previous occasions.  Serves me right for not phoning ahead to check, but since I managed to get a game at other local courses that were open, I'd wondered whether Colville Park had particular drainage problems.  There'd been no serious rain in the area for several weeks and with drying winds, so I was hopeful that I'd finally get to play Colville Park.  The course was pretty dry underfoot, but there were clear signs, particularly on the lower first 5 holes, that like a number of other West of Scotland courses, it had suffered from flooding over the Winter.  The full greens were all in play, but were very soft and heavily sanded, making them slow, bumpy and inconsistent.  I suspect that this course is far better during a dry Summer.  The layout is pretty good but I certainly didn't see Colville Park at its best. 
Anyway, the course starts with a downhill 192 Yard Par 3.  Three ladies had just teed off in front of me and immediately let me play through.  With no time to warm up, my 23 Degree Rescue drive went short left into a soggy lie and my chip from there was still just short of the green, a 2-tier affair with some seriously awkward looking slopes.  My downhill putt from the fringe was around 20 feet, with a 3 foot break from the left.  I holed this putt dead centre, thanked the ladies again and sauntered off as though my par was no surprise.  Little did they know.
The 3rd is the Stroke Index 1 hole, a tree-lined 415 yard Par 4.  I'd hit my drive slightly left into an area that was still pretty soggy, so I was left with a long slightly uphill second.  I was still short in 2 so a bogey was OK.  The 4th is a 150 Yard Par 3, slightly downhill and well protected by front bunkering.  My tee shot went just through the back into light rough, but a good lob wedge to within a foot (honest!) was enough to secure the par.  This is a view of the 6th green.  The Par 4 6th is only 303 Yards, but the fairway is seriously narrow after around 200 Yards.  I'd split the fairway with my driver and had only a short sand iron to the 2 tiered green.  A good little hole requiring accuracy rather than power. 
The 7th is another  good hole, this time a slightly downhill 356 Yard Par 4 and a chance to really let rip with your driver from an elevated tee.  You'll also need more power on the 8th, a slightly uphill 528 Yard Par 5.  Maybe the fairway is tightened once there's more growth on the course but I thought this hole was spoiled by the overly-generous width of the fairway when I played it.   This is a view of the 8th green.  From there, you turn right and cross a bridge over the disused railway - not the most scenic part of the course.  The 9th is a tricky  376 Yard Par 4.  There's ample room for your drive, but the green is small and runs off front, left and back, with bunkering protecting the right side to make you think twice about running your second in off the slope to the right of the green.  Again, accuracy rather than power is needed.
This is a view of the 10th green, looking back to the tee.  This is a steeply uphill 176 Yard Par 3.  The Yellow Tee had been moved forward to the Ladies Tee due to maintenance work, so the hole was 153 Yards to the flag, uphill.  I'm not sure why I tried to hit an 8 iron, but an awful swing generating a low hook found the very left side of the green.  A yard further left and I'd have been in deep trouble, since that side of the green slopes down into  heavy rough and trees.  I had a 30+ foot putt on a heavily sanded soft green, 2 cupfuls from the left.  there were no witnesses to my unlikely birdie so you'll have to take my word for it.  Equally, I confess to bogeys at the next couple of holes!
The 13th is the second of 2 successive Par 5s, at 477 yards, slightly uphill. I found a fairway bunker off the tee, but this was so shallow I played a 3 Wood (!) to within an easy wedge distance from the green.  I'd expected to see a more severe hazard, as I've seen more difficult lies on links fairways at other courses.  This is the 15th, a good risk and reward hole.  This Par 4 is only 253 Yards, so is drivable for some.  The plateau green is certainly tempting from the tee, but a deep gully guards the front right of the green and good bunkering adds to the difficulty.  For me, a lay up with my 3 Wood was the prudent option, followed by an easy pitch and a couple of putts for par on the Stroke Index 18 hole.
The 16th is another good hole, a slightly downhill 432 Yard Par that's easily reachable in 2 shots.  However, the fairway slopes left to right and as I found out, the bunker front right of the green is a more realistic test.  I played a good bunker shot (new sand, soft lie) but was still 25 feet short.  Bogey was disappointing as I was playing quite well.  The downhill 17th, a 153 Yard Par 3, looked to have suffered badly with flooding in recent months and drainage looks to be a continuing problem.  I missed the green short and left leading to another bogey, taking me to 6 over par.  The 18th is a short slightly uphill 283 Yard Par 4, as shown here.  I'd only a short sand iron pitch to the green but underhit it slightly, leaving myself just short of the green.  A scrambled par from there and I'd gone round in 77 gross, net 66 (net 5 under par) with 29 putts.  Not bad at all. I'm playing in a season-opening Caddies Tournament at my own course on 6 April, so reality will doubtless return.
I'd not seen Colville Park at its best.  It's a good enough layout, but I do wonder how many weeks a year its members enjoy optimal conditions.  Its not the most scenic course either and on balance I don't think I'd want to play it again, even in optimal conditions, given the variety of other decent courses in the area.


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