It hadn't taken me long to play the short Kippie Lodge course, so with heavy showers on the weather forecast for later in the day, we headed off to Kintore GC's 18 Hole heathland course on a hilly site overlooking the River Don, around 13 miles inland from Aberdeen. The club was founded in 1911 as a 9 hole course but was extended to 18 in 1991 by the addition of new holes to the north of the original layout. This is me taking my stance on the 5th, the second of the new holes, and the Stroke Index 1 hole, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The course starts with a 208 Yard Par 3, slightly uphill. Next, an easy drive to the corner of the dog leg 2nd, a 453 Yard Par 5. However, this hole then goes very steeply uphill, so take your time, savour the views and don't get too out of breath since the 3rd is equally challenging. This hole is only 397 Yards, but your tee shot will be blind and there's a nasty little bunker to the left of the green that you won't see from the fairway. I'd an awful lie in said bunker, leading to an equally awful quadruple bogey.
Having started bogey, par, quadruple bogey, I'd been hoping for some relief, not a long Par 5 with the ominous name of "Lang Stracht" i.e. "long straight" as the next hole. I managed a par there, stemming the flow of my remaining handicap strokes. The 6th is a great hole, downhill at last, but the fairway slopes to the right, bringing a solitary tree into play, as shown above. I was almost stymied by the tree and needed an outstanding shot to find the front of the green. I took 3 more from there, but the outcome could have been much worse. The newer holes at Kintore are all really good and I particularly liked this, the 7th, a 267 Yard Par 4. A stream cuts across the fairway, making the tee shot tricky, before it turns to run along the left side of the green. I only had a short pitch as my second and opted, foolishly, to see how far I could hit my new Cleveland wedge. I got the shot hole high, but in the stream! Note the gathering clouds, a portent of coming rain. It was beginning to look like the weather forecast would be 100% correct.
Sure enough, light rain started as we played the 13th (the 12th being the last of the newer holes). The views from atop the course are outstanding and we could see that some miles away the rain looked pretty torrential. We'd read comments about Kintore suggesting that the course was unbalanced, with the front 9 being far longer than the back 9. There's certainly a 500 yard difference between these sections, but I really liked the stretch from 12-18. These holes are generally short, but elevation changes, blind shots and uneven lies add to the interest, whilst giving an opportunity to recover strokes lost on the difficult earlier holes. For example, this is the 15th, a steeply downhill 284 Yard Par 4. The drive is blind but this hole will be drivable by bigger (and very straight) hitters. I got a par the conventional way. Polly really didn't take to the 16th, a steeply uphill 348 Yard Par 4. The drive is blind, played over a hillock in the middle of the fairway. Polly had a really strong drive but still couldn't clear the hillock. Dynamite or a bulldozer was mentioned and whilst this hole is quirky to put it mildly, it certainly adds character to the course.
This is the 18th, another steeply downhill short Par 4, at only 305 Yards. The worst of the rain was still a couple of miles away as we teed off, so we got lucky. I finished with another par for 39 on the back 9, but a few mistakes earlier in the round meant I'd a total of 86, net 75, for a net 5 over par score, with 28 putts.
We both really liked Kintore GC. It's only a little village club, but it looks to have come a long way since its early years. The Kintore course is great fun to play and chances are you'll not notice the hills, given the quality of the course itself. I strongly recommend you give it a try.