Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Glasgow GC - Killermont Course - Course no 628

Glasgow GC is the world's 9th oldest golf club.  As might be expected of such an old institution, it has undergone some radical changes over the years, the Killermont Course being its 5th different location within the city since the club was founded in 1787.  The present course at Killermont was laid out by Old Tom Morris in December 1903, and was the Great Man's last course design.   The course has undergone some tweaking since then by James Braid and more recently by Dave Thomas to bring the course into line with developments in golfing equipment, but much of the course and in particular the sites for greens, remains as originally designed by Old Tom.  Factor in the magnificent Georgian mansion at Killermont that still serves as the clubhouse and a round here is an experience to be savoured.  This is a view of the clubhouse from the 1st Tee.

The Glasgow Golf Club also owns and operates the fine old links course at Gailes on the Ayrshire Coast on links land between Irvine and Troon, with several other celebrated links courses within easy driving distance. Indeed, the Glasgow Gailes course has been chosen by the R&A as the sole Scottish Final Qualifying Course for the Open Championship for the next 3 years, recognising Glasgow GC as one of Scotland's most prestigious clubs and the Gailes course as amongst the best of our links courses.  I'd played Glasgow Gailes some years ago, before I started the challenge of playing every course, but I'd not managed a round at the Killermont Course.  It's perfectly possible to phone the club to make playing arrangements, but I was fortunate that David McG, one of my former work colleagues is a member, so a few text exchanges later and we'd arranged a friendly 4-ball for 28 October 2013 (me and David McG versus Alastair, another Glasgow GC member, and David L, my best buddy from Glen GC). 28 October was supposed to be a day of sunshine and the occasional light shower, with the weather deteriorating as the week progressed, so we boldly (and as it turned out, foolishly) ventured out.  The bad news was that the 14th and 15th holes were closed following heavy rain on the 27th and a problem with a water pump used to drain that part of the course.  Accordingly, I'd be unable to play every hole on the course.  I'll need to return to Killermont and play the full layout, but given the quality of this course, that's a pleasure I'm really looking forward to.   

The Killermont course measures 5678 Yards Par 68 from the Yellow Tees.  A temporary green was in place at the short Par 4 1st, but otherwise, we were playing to the full 16 holes that were in play and the course was playing quite long due to the wet and sometimes boggy underfoot conditions.  The 1st hole is pretty straightforward, but Killermont's 2nd is an absolute beast, a Par 3 of 241 Yards off the White Tee. Thankfully it's slightly more manageable at 229 Yards off the Yellow Tee but I still needed a good 3 Wood to reach the front of the green, setting up  my first par.  This is a view from the tee, with the autumn colours in full splendour.  As a caddy, I prefer to offer advice on lines to take rather than hazards to avoid, unless they are not immediately visible, so it was good on the 3rd Tee to hear my partner listing exhaustively all of the places that our opponents should avoid - we won the hole but it's amazing how a little negativity can influence things in friendly match play.

We'd started in dry overcast conditions but it wasn't to last and the first shower arrived just as were tackling the slightly uphill semi-blind 4th, a 138 Yard Par 3 that played a lot longer than it looked.  There's OOB beyond and a gully to the left of the green, so an accurate tee shot here is important.  I'd just missed the green front right and this green was particularly slow, but a bogey 4 was still disappointing.  The 5th is a really good 505 Yard Par 5, slightly downhill back towards the clubhouse, as shown here.  I was just short in 3 and a poor lob wedge to 15 foot short was never going to leave an easy putt, so another eminently avoidable bogey was recorded.  Next, the Stroke Index 1 hole, a 418 Yard uphill Par 4 that played a lot longer.  I'd only an easy third shot sand iron pitch to the green, but by the time we'd finished the hole the rain was fair battering down and I'd scored yet another avoidable bogey. The weather improved on the next 3 holes, all short Par 4s.  I parred the 7th and 8th and was only 10 feet away in 2 on the 339 Yard Par 4 9th.  I missed the birdie putt but was still out in 40.

The 10th hole is one of the best at Killermont, a 394 Yard dog leg left Par 4.  I'd hit a good drive down the left of the fairway but the optimum line is well right of centre, to avoid having to go over high trees at the corner of the dog leg.  The heavy rain was back on and didn't ease until we'd reached the 16th.  I'd struggled to keep my club grips relatively dry and was reminded that I needed a new wet suit, but our opponents had struggled too and we were dormie after the 13th.  With the 14th and 15th obviously unplayable and closed for the day, we only needed a half on the 16th, a 133 Yard Par 3, as shown here.  My good 7 iron looked OK but only reached the front of the green and the actual hole was still 50+ feet away.  I hit a really solid putt but even that came up 6 feet short on the by then  saturated green. I don't much like 3-putting at the best of times, but between us David and I had scrambled a half, winning our match - setting up a "return" at North Berwick GC sometime next Spring.

Here's Alastair and the two David's doing some pitch mark repairing on the soft 18th green, with the impressive clubhouse in the background.

With 2 of the holes out of play, I scored 73 gross for 16 holes, with 30 putts.  The missing holes are a 366 Yard Par 4 and a 436 Par 5 and I'm guessing that I could have done them in around 10 strokes, but I'll need to return to play the full course sometime to find out.  I'm really looking forward to that, since Killermont was still a joy to play, despite the weather.  I strongly recommend you try to play here sometime.

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