Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Linn Park Golf Course - Course no 615

Linn Park is an 18 Hole parkland course, one of the 6 courses and 4 pitch and putt courses owned and operated by Glasgow City Council.  I played here on 4 September 2013, meaning I've now played all 6 of the full-sized courses, the others being Alexandra Park, Lethamhill, Littlehill, Knightswood and Ruchill.  I'll play the 4 pitch and putt courses sometime next Spring as I doubt that I'll have time to do so before they close down in a few weeks' time in advance of the coming Winter. I'd heard from locals that Linn Park is a late season course that's prone to flooding, hence my visit in September, after our mainly dry and sunny Summer.  That apart, I didn't know what to expect.

The course is short, at only 4878 Yards, Par 68, off the Yellow Tees and is pretty hilly.  Overall, the course and its greens in particular were in good condition and there's a decent course here, but in common with most courses operated by local Councils, Linn Park looked to be suffering from under-investment, from tee boxes and flagsticks to green-keeping equipment. There's a decent course map on the back of the scorecard (if your eyesight is good enough to read the small print) but more marker poles and route indicators would improve the presentation of the course.  As matters stand, most tee boxes weren't numbered and the small (3-4 feet high) plastic flagsticks looked as though they'd seen better days on a local putting green some time ago.  There was still some dew on the course when I played, meaning that grass clippings were sticking to my ball, but at least the fairways had been cut.  

The Front 9 is particularly short at only 2092 Yards, with the longest hole being the steeply downhill 270 Yard Par 4.  This hole would have been easily drivable, even for me, had it not been for grass clippings on the fairway, but I don't want to give you the impression that the course is not without its challenges.  The 1st hole is only 252 Yards, but your drive is uphill and the second shot to the green is almost blind, even more steeply uphill.  The 2nd is a 90 degree dog leg left 245 Yard Par 4, with high trees blocking any prospect of cutting the corner.  The 3rd is a 212 Yard Par 3 completely blind up a hill with no marker pole to offer any guidance.  This is the 4th, a 254 Yard Par 4 dominated by a large tree to the left of the fairway.  The green sits almost behind this tree and as I discovered, is almost inaccessible if your drive finishes on the left side of the fairway.  I parred the hole OK, but only after a decent single putt from 15 feet.

The 7th is an uphill  215 Yard Par 3 played to a small shelf of a green cut into the hill. Another single putt after a good chip with my still new 58 degree Cleveland wedge saved the par.  This is the 9th, a 252 Yard Par 4 with a blind drive over a small hill.  An easy sand iron pitch to 10 feet set up my only birdie of the round.  I was out in 3 over par, but any thoughts of a really low score were dampened by my double bogey on the 10th, the Stroke Index 1 Hole.  This is a 392 Yard Par 4, dog leg left.  Your drive needs to be threaded between stands of mature pine to set up a long second up to the green.  There's also a water hazard running across the fairway just beyond the gap, so only a long and straight drive will do.  From there, your eye will be drawn to a fairway bunker some 150 Yards in the distance, with a green perched on top of a hill some 50 Yards beyond the bunker.  That's actually the 7th green, so be warned.  Indeed, I've no idea what purpose that bunker serves, as it is well out of range for all but the very biggest hitters (and I doubt that many of them would be playing here on a regular basis). The 10th is by far the most difficult hole on the course.

The Back 9 is 2786 Yards and is a bit tougher than the Front 9.  Having said that, I drove through the steeply downhill 258 Yard Par 4 11th, but missed an easy birdie putt.  The 482 Yard 12th is the only Par 5 at Linn Park, but is easy enough if you hit a couple of decent straight shots and avoid a stream that cuts in front of the green.  This is the Stroke Index 2 Hole for reasons that escape me.  By this time I'd caught up with a couple of dodgy looking characters (both clearly beginners) sharing a bag of clubs.  I'd passed them earlier when playing from the 8th Tee, when they were also sharing a joint (OK, I confess, I know the smell) and a couple of beers on the 11th Tee (it was by then around 0930 hrs).  It's quite unusual to find such characters on Scottish courses, particularly so early in the morning and the sharing of clubs is strictlyforbidden on our courses.  However, I was curious and there were enough other golfers nearby to suggest I wasn't about to be mugged.  The characters in question were indeed more than a little relaxed, as they topped up their alcohol and cannabis levels on the next tee.  Having been brought up in Glasgow, I'd no trouble with the local dialect, interspersed as it was with some more colourful phrases.  They let me play through OK, and I soon left them far behind.  I suspect that one of them might have won a hole with a long putt or similar, as the cry of "ya spawny bastard" was clearly audible when I was on the 18th green (they being some 600 Yards away on the 15th green at the time!)  By the way, "spawny" means "undeservedly lucky" or "jammy" another adjective that could have been substituted to the same effect.  These guys were harmless enough, on the course anyway.

The 18th is a slightly uphill 367 Yard Par 4, named "Past Caring."  There's OOB to the right and a large cross bunker around 230 Yards out from the tee, but it's not a hugely difficult hole if you avoid going past the hole with your approach.  Do that (like me!) and you'll face a steeply downhill putt and a likely bogey (also like me).  In reality, Linn Park isn't all that difficult.  I went round in 78 gross, net 67, with 30 putts. One under net par was pretty good, but could easily have been better had I known where I was going.  The small flagsticks were also off-putting, making it was tricky to decide on distances.  I doubt I'd want to play Linn Park (or indeed any of the Glasgow Council's courses again).  There are far better tests in the Glasgow area and after my round at Linn Park, I was off to one of the best, Whitecraigs GC.

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