Friday, 28 June 2013

Isle of Gigha GC - Course no 592

Gigha is a small island, 7 miles long by half a mile wide, lying a 20 minute ferry trip from the west side of the Kintyre peninsula.  The island had been in steady decline but a few years ago it was bought by the community, a trust company was formed to enable the community to manage and develop the island and after years of steady growth and hard work by all concerned it now has an expanding population of around 120 and is a great example of how community buy outs can succeed.  Golf had been introduced to the island in the late 1800s and continued there until around 1925.  A couple of islanders keen on golf created a course in 1986 and in 1988 the course moved to its present site at Drumeonbeg Farm.  Nowadays, this 9 Hole parkland course is 2121 Yards Par 33 from the Yellow Tees.  The fairways are very generously wide and on most holes you'd need to be seriously wayward to tangle with some punishing looking rough.  As with most of the small island courses in Scotland, the equipment available to greenkeepers here is pretty basic and hole signage, flagsticks and individual flags are all pretty weather-beaten.  However, it takes serious effort and dedication to maintain even a small golf course with little or no funding, so well done to all concerned for keeping this little course in such good condition.  

The course starts with an uphill 274 Yard Par 4.  The fairways were cut pretty long, so with little run you only get what you hit.  I was still a short chip away after a poor second shot with my wedge, so a bogey start to my third course of the day.  The 2nd as shown here is a steeply downhill 135 Yard Par 3.  Too bold and you're off the course.  Too short and you reload.  The greens didn't look great but putted surprisingly well, so no excuses on that account.  I was just tired and a bogey was all my poor tee  shot deserved.

The 3rd is a flat 318 Yard Par 4.  Anything reasonable off the tee leaves a short wedge to the small green and I'd an easy 4.  This is actually the Stroke Index 1/2 Hole using an 18 hole format, but for me, the 6th was a far harder proposition.  The 4th is narrower than other holes, so the tee shot deserves your full attention.  Get that right and a par should follow.  This short Par 4 runs parallel to the single track road that runs the length of Gigha so be prepared to wave back or stop for a blether when passing islanders see you playing.  The 5th is an uphill 112 Yard Par 3, but it plays more like 135, so be sure to take enough club.  I didn't and that error cost me a bogey.  The 6th is 323 Yards, but I didn't notice that the Yellow marker was beside the Medal marker i.e. the hole would play to 364 Yards.  I'd hit a good drive and was a short wedge away from a green that I assumed would be the 6th.  This proved to be the 8th, so if you ever play this course, note that the 6th green is further up the hill on the right!  I retraced my steps and gave myself a Mulligan from the middle of the 6th fairway and hit a 20 Degree Rescue to the real 6th green and secured a dodgy par with a couple of decent putts.  It's easy to make such Innocent mistakes when playing new courses!

The 7th is a short uphill 231 Yard Par 4.  Again, hit the wide fairway and a short pitch should set you up for an easy par.  You might have to wait until some ducks waddle off the green, as I did, but there's really no rush. When I played here on 25 June 2013 after my earlier rounds at Dunaverty and Machrihanish I was the only golfer on the course and you'd also probably have the place to yourself.  The 8th was probably my favourite hole on Gigha, a 297 Yard downhill Par 4, played blind from the tee. I'd hit my best drive of the round and had only a short wedge to the green for an easy par.  The last hole is more demanding.  This is a 140 Yard Par 3 played downhill. but your drive will be almost blind.  This is a view from in front of the tee, with the 1st fairway running up the hill to the right and the 3rd fairway in the left foreground.  I wasn't sure about the yardage as the green looked to be far more than 140 yards away.  I over-clubbed and finished on the wrong side of the narrow track that leads to the small car park and storage hut, hence my closing bogey.

I'd gone round in 39, or 6 over par, with 16 putts and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  If you're ever across that way, take the ferry over for a game round this little course and admire the hard work that has been done to maintain a short golf course on almost no budget.  Your score probably won't matter.  Just enjoy the experience and the views.

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