After playing at Lochranza GC on 24 June 2013 I took the short ferry crossing to Claonaig on the east side of the Kintyre peninsula to play another 5 courses there, starting at Carradale GC, halfway down the east side of the peninsula. Carradale is an outstanding 9 Hole links course, measuring a very short 1999 Yards, Par 32 from the Yellow Tees and was an absolute joy to play. You're probably playing the wrong sport if you don't enjoy this course, simple as that. It's not the most demanding layout you'll find, but the condition of the course was just great and the warm sunny weather helped too. I don't know when I'll be back that direction, but I'd certainly hope to play the course again sometime.
Carradale starts with a steeply uphill 144 Yard semi-blind Par 3. You'll see only the very top of the flag from the tee, so take 2 clubs more than you'd normally need. I went with an easy 27 Degree Rescue and came up just short of the green. From there, a couple of putts secured an easy opening par. This is the 1st green looking North East up the Kilbrannan Sound and over to the west side of Arran. Hopefully, this photo highlights the outstanding quality of the greens here - fast, true running and smooth and a tribute to the skills of whoever looks after this little course.
From there, the 2nd is played downhill and at 310 Yards, this Par 4 is the longest hole on the course. The fairway is generously wide, but for me at least, the second shot was quite tricky, as also shown below. Anything short risks getting caught in thick rough and the plateau green is small and difficult to hold. My pitch to the green was barely a yard short of ideal but ran off into thick rough, costing me a bogey.
The 3rd, a 228 Yard Par 3, is all about the drive, with rough on a both sides and the hole is slightly uphill and blind. Unsurprisingly, this is the Stroke Index 1 Hole. I hit a straight drive, just short of the green, but my long 80+ foot putt was slightly downhill overall and rolled off the back of the green. Another bogey. I just stood for a while on the 4th admiring the view, there being no-one else on the whole course.
The 4th is a 251 Yard Par 4. The fairway is again pretty wide, but the second shot is steeply uphill to a small green cut into the hill, as shown below. I tried to use the slope at the back of the green to let the ball come back down, but over-hit my wedge very slightly, leaving me an almost impossible shot downhill to a green that sloped away from me as also shown below. I tried a 60 Degree lob wedge to kill the ball into the slope well to the right of the green, but even then my ball ran clean off the green down towards the fairway. A good chip and a single putt saved the par.
Next, the 5th is a 256 Yard Par 4 played from an elevated tee to another small green cut into the side of an old sand dune, as shown above my bag on the photo immediately above. This time I used the backstop to better effect and had an easy par.
The 6th is a 249 Yard Par 4 that almost cost me my score. I'd hit a good looking drive but a 90 Degree left bounce took my first shot into heavy rough on the left of the hole. I played a provisional on much the same line and again, my ball ran into the heavy stuff. I found the first one, but had an awful lie and could only hack it out a few yards. The provisional was lost - a new ball! This hole is called Pudding Bowl after the shape of the green and its surrounding collar of rough but after a dodgy bogey and some bad bounces, I was coming up with a less innocent alternative!
The 7th is a difficult 167 Yard Par 3, slightly downhill over some gorse bushes. You won't see much of the green or the flag, but as the photos below suggest, there's more room than appears to be the case from the tee, so I had an easy enough par.
The 8th is a steeply uphill 128 Yard Par 3 that plays 2 clubs longer than you might expect. Another easy par, despite just missing the green. If needs be, linger for a while to get your breath back and enjoy the view.
It had been a long day, starting with a 0500 hrs alarm call. I'd only played 3 short 9 Hole courses, but I'd been caddying a lot before the trip and the day was rapidly catching up with me, so a nice easy final hole would have been ideal. Unfortunately, Carradale's last hole has OOB all the way up the left of the fairway and although the hole is only 266 Yards, the tee shot is quite demanding. I somehow managed to hit my best drive of the day to within 20 or so yards from the green, so an easy flick, a couple of putts and a closing par was a satisfying finish to this excellent little course. The Carradale Hotel where I was staying overnight is just to the left of the clubhouse in the photo below so I didn't have far to go for a refreshing hot bath and a beer. Gross 35 was 3 over par, so pretty good. However, my 13 putts were due more to just missing greens in regulation than great putting, to be honest. I sorely tempted to go round again, but with 4 more courses to go over the next couple of days and some caddying work at Renaissance later in the week, I settled for the bath and some beers, in that order!
Carradale was great fun to play and I strongly recommend you give it a try. The famous championship courses at Machrihanish GC and Machrihanish Dunes GC further down the Kintyre peninsula attract thousands of visiting golfers every year, but I just wish that more would take the short detour to play the Carradale course. It's well worth the trip and great value for money. However, if you find a Titliest with a Glen GC logo to the left of the 6th, please take better care of it than I did.