Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Letham Grange GC - Glens Course - Course no 579

I was on my way up to Aberdeen for an overnight stay before flights on 10 June 2013 to Shetland and Fair Isle, so this gave me time to play the Glens Course at Letham Grange on 9 June after my quick round at Camperdown's Pitch and Putt Course.  Polly and I had played the excellent Old Course at Letham Grange some years ago, an 18 Hole parkland course that is regarded as one of the best and toughest inland courses in Scotland.  The Glens Course,  at a modest 5276 Yards, Par 67, is considerably less formidable.  The recent history of the courses at Letham Grange is complex, but in summary, both courses were closed for a while as a consequence of financial problems.  There is a continuing legal dispute about ownership of the courses and they are currently being managed and operated by the members of Letham Grange Golf Club.  The on-site hotel is closed, but as far as play on the courses is concerned, it's business as usual pending final resolution of the legal dispute.
My initial impression of the Glens Course was that it had generously wide fairways and was pretty unremarkable, with good greens and few hazards that offered a significant challenge.  The course was almost deserted, despite the car parks being very busy (I assumed that most golfers were out on the Old Course, on the other side of the hotel and not visible from the Glens Course).  This meant that I whizzed around the Glens in under 2 hours.  The Front 9 passed without much incident, or interest, with short Par 4s (with the exception of the long 464 Yard Par 4 5th) and 3 decent looking Par 3s.  I managed somehow to bogey each of the Par 3s after just missing the greens with my tee shots, but redeemed myself with a good birdie on the 352 Yard Par 4 7th.  Four over after 9 wasn't bad and if the Back 9 was as easy, a really good score was within reach.  However, the Back 9 is far from easy and offers more of a challenge, starting with the Stroke Index 1 10th Hole, a 398 Yard Par 4.  The drive is relatively straightforward if you avoid OOB and bunkering on the left, but the green is tricky to find and has a severe slope from front to back and left to right, as shown here.  I'd finished just short of the green in 2 but a good chip to within a foot set up an easy enough par.
The 11th is a double dog leg 480 Yard Par 5.  It's tricky to find the correct line off the tee (further left than you might think!) and your second shot will be either laid up short or over a mound that obscures the small green from view.  I took 6 after trying to clear the mound in 2.  I should have laid up short of the mound or gone for the long way round the second dog leg.  The 12th is a 160 Yard Par 3, but with the flag right behind the solitary bunker that protects the front of the green, I took an extra club, went through the back of the green and took another bogey at a Par 3.  The 13th and 14th are both short Par 4s, so I thought the Glens Course was reverting to type.  Not so, as you'd find out on the 15th tee.  The 15th is only 282 Yards, but is ridiculously narrow in comparison with the rest of the course, with the fairway hemmed in by mature pine forest on both sides, as shown below.  The hole dog legs to the right slightly, so bigger hitters might take an old ball and blast it over trees on the right of the fairway. 

I was happy enough not to lose my newish Pro V1 to the left side of the fairway, setting up a wedge to the green, as shown below.  Even so, the green was small, with run offs on all sides.  Another par was satisfying, since this is a really tricky little hole.

 The Glens Course then hits you with a tree-lined Par 3.  The 16th is only 147 Yards, but looks intimidating, since anything hit right or left could easily be lost.  I hit an easy 6 iron to the front of the green and settled for my equally easy par.  A good hole, though.

The 335 Yard Par 417th is perhaps the best hole on the course, again set in mature pine forest.  The fairway is actually pretty generous, but the trees suggest otherwise and watching a guy in front searching around in the undergrowth on the left didn't help.  However, I hit what for me was a really good long drive and an easy 9 iron pin high set up a  birdie chance from 20 feet.  I just missed the putt, but a par was still pretty good.

You might like the 18th, a 135 Yard Par 3 with a plateau green that slopes severely in a number of directions, but I thought the setting, amongst housing, didn't look quite right after the previous few holes.  However, the green is challenging, hence my closing bogey!  I did the Back 9 in a creditable 38 for a total of 75, net 64, or net 3 under par and 30 putts wasn't too shabby either.  Hit the ball straight on the closing holes and this course should be easy.  I'd managed to bogey 4 out of the 5 Par 3s and made a couple of course management errors, so I definitely left a few strokes out there.  Maybe breaking 70 would be beyond my abilities, but I'd like to think I could get pretty close if I played here again.  The Glens is well worth playing for a casual game, not to be taken too seriously, but I suspect you might prefer the more formidable Old Course, where breaking 90 became my target. I failed, if I remember correctly!

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