I played this 2332 Yard Par 34 9 Hole parkland course on 24 June 2013 after my round at nearby Corrie GC, so I've now played all 7 of the courses on the Isle of Arran. Unlike Corrie, the Lochranza course is almost completely flat, with the course running either side of a small river that flows through it. The fairways are generously wide so if you hit it relatively straight off the tee the course is there for the taking. However, water comes into play on some holes, particularly 1, 7 and 9, so you'll need to plot your way around pretty carefully. You'll also want to avoid disturbing the large herd of deer that roam the course. I'd noticed the large print request on the scorecard "please be aware of deer roaming the course" and thought this pretty unusual, since deer are usually more commonly found higher up our hills during the Summer. Indeed, deer are usually pretty wary of us humans and would normally spot us well before we got anywhere near them and move off. At Lochranza GC, the deer appeared to have little concern, as these photos suggest - no zooms used!
But enough of them, this is golf blog after all. The 1st hole is a slight dog leg left 341 Yard Par 4, with the river cutting across the fairway around 160 yards out from the tee. The river is also bordered by mature trees, so whilst it's easy enough to clear the river, doing so just brings the trees into play, risking a double bogey or worse. The more sensible play is to drive towards and short of the white marker in front of the river, opening up an iron to the green. I got the first bit right before hooking an 8 iron into rough short and left of the green, costing me an opening bogey. The 2nd is a 267 Yard Par 4 and should be an easy hole - must be if I parred it! The Par 3 3rd is more tricky at 190 Yards, as shown here. The wind was blowing straight from green to tee and with OOB right behind the green, clubbing was difficult. I opted for a 3 Wood and just missed the green to the left. With the stag shown above only a few feet behind me, I thinned a pitch into rough on the other side of the green. The lie was good, though, but I wasn't expecting to chip in for birdie.
The 4th is only 94 Yards but with water in front and behind the small green, this is a tricky little Par 3. I got the par OK after just missing the green with my easy pitch with a wedge. Holes 5 and 6 were both short Par 4s, playing almost straight downwind. The 5th is a 90 Degree dog leg right, so you won't need a long drive off the tee. A long iron/wedge combination should be enough. Water comes into play on the 6th, so don't be tempted to get the driver out unless you're a long hitter and hit it very straight - trees also come into play if you're over-ambitious. I thought the 7th was easily the trickiest hole at Lochranza, despite being only the 9th and 10th most difficult on the 18-hole Stroke Index. This is a 233 Yard Par 4, with the river running across the hole around 180 yards from the tee and water again coming into play immediately in front and to the right of the small green. Trees bordering the river add to the difficulty, as shown here. I laid up with my 27 Degree Rescue club and played an easy 9 iron second, which missed the green to the right and got wet (and lost), costing me a double bogey 6. The 8th was a 247 Yard Par 4, slightly uphill towards the green. but easy enough if you get your drive away.
The right dog leg 373 Yard Par 4 9th is more formidable and was Stroke Index 1 and 2 on the scorecard. The river cuts across the hole, but try not to hook (as I did) as this leaves a long and awkward shot into the small green. I was happy enough to take a bogey after clipping a tree with my second shot. 39 gross, net 33.5 was just under net par and 13 putts was also pretty good. Lochranza is a fun course to play and I'd recommend it - you'll also enjoy seeing the deer close up.