We now have 655 courses on our list, with a handful of others likely to be added that are either at the planning stages or under construction e.g GWest near Gleneagles (we'll need to work out how to get access once that private and exclusive club opens next year). Our list of courses might eventually stretch to around 660, but for now, it seems unlikely that I'll be playing any new courses for a while. It's not the weather, it's just that most of the courses I've still to play are likely to be closed for the Winter or are just too far away to reach comfortably. For example, there's around 8 mainly local authority-run pitch and putt courses in differing parts of the country that only open during the summer months. There's also a few mainly parkland courses still to be played in the Aberdeen area but I don't fancy driving for 3 hours+ all the way up there to play courses with temporary greens and have to drive back in the dark, given the vagaries of our winter weather. So, it looks as though I'll be stuck on 627 until next Spring.
Rather than let the blog just sit idle for that time, I thought I'd test my readers' knowledge of Scottish courses. This quiz might be nigh on impossible if you've not actually played here or read most of my earlier posts, but for my Scottish readers in particular, the challenge is to name the courses where the following 20 photos were taken. All in Scotland, but which courses?
1 - One of the newest holes in Scotland. I do most of my caddying work here.
2 - Definitely the remotest course in Scotland and one of the best Par 3s I've found - so far!
3 - The only 36 hole course in Scotland
5. Another old course in Fife.
6. The "clubhouse" had seen better days and the course might now be gone.
7. A 9 hole course in the Borders.
8. Another relatively new course.
9. James Braid's last course.
10. A 54 Yard Par 3 and one of the most remote (and difficult), but where?
11. A flat parkland course in the North-East with a unique railway line running through it.
12. Next Ryder Cup venue and one of the few holes I really liked on the course.
13. The most southerly golf club in Scotland.
14. The 19th hole on this Colin Montgomerie-designed course, just in case yourmatch is tied after 18!
15. A local authority-managed course.
16. Me, Craig and Stu on Polly's favourite course. Mickelson won here this year.
17. A really difficult Par 3 on an obscure Perthshire course. The Inn has closed but the course is still there.
18. One of the best Par 3s in St Andrews. Which course?
19. Perthshire again.
20. Controversial course development.
Some of these are easy, but others are likely to perplex all but the most far-travelled of golfers. Folk who have read most of my blog postings will have seen some of the photos before. Overall, these photos reflect the diversity of golf in Scotland, so good luck in guessing the courses involved.
I'll post the answers in a few weeks' time! In the meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
1 Renaissance GC - the hole that's featured is the 10th, a 417 Yard Par 4 from the very back tee. When I caddied here in January this year, my friend George Thomson drove the green from the back tee and holed a 15 foot putt for an amazing eagle 2!
2 Fair Isle Lighthouse Keeper's Course - definitely the most remote course in Scotland! Check out the You Tube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VBsfPL_VKI.
3 Bruntsfield Links Pitch and Putt Course - The Meadows, Edinburgh. Golf has been played here for over 300 years! The Golf Tavern nearby is a "must visit" and the beer's pretty good too.
4 Durness GC This is a great little course with 9 greens and 18 tees on the far north west point of the Scottish mainland. It's as remote as you can get on the mainland but the journey's worth the effort, as the hole featured is surely one of the best finishing holes in Scotland. You'll have a small but critical audience, as the clubhouse windows overlook the scene and it's a given that your play will be commented on when you go in for a well-deserved refreshment!
5 Crail GC Craighead Course - another old links course, dating back to 1786 and just round the corner from St Andrews. Polly and I thought seriously about buying an old house between the 2 courses here - we still wonder whether we should have gone ahead!
6 North Ronaldsay GC a bleak and forlorn place and sadly, the course is probably completely gone by now.
7 Selkirk GC - This is the 9th, with my car. I didn't need to book a tee time!
8 The Earl of Mar GC - The Erskine Bridge spanning the River Clyde is the clue here. This is a very good parkland course, well worth playing and the hotel is great too!
9 Stranraer GC - just about as far away from Durness as you can get and another gem that's well worth visiting.
10 Asta GC - a superb hole on one of the oddest courses in Scotland. 9 holes, but the members play it backwards for 2 weeks every month, using completely different layouts and scorecards. I've no real idea why and there was no-one there to ask when we played both courses.
11 Alford GC - in rural Aberdeenshire. A very flat parkland course in a little village. The train is obviously for tourists and our grandchildren would have loved it. Mind you, Callie might have preferred golfing and she's only 6!
12 PGA Centenary Course - Gleneagles. I hear that since we played there a couple of years ago even more has been spent re-modelling the holes and improving the drainage. I just hope it doesn't rain during the Ryder Cup as holding such a major event there so late in our golfing season is brave to put it mildly. Not the greatest venue they could have chosen, but money talks louder than common sense.
13 St Medan GC - quirky, with a unique safety system on one of the holes, using old runway landing lights. Turn them on when you're on the green, turn them off when you leave it and golfers shouldn't play when the lights are on. Simple and very effective and overall a good little course.
14 Rowallan Castle GC - a new parkland course, already hosting minor pro events.
15 Ayr Bellisle Golf Course - a good local authority-managed course. The old stately home that houses the clubhouse etc has seen better days but the course itself is well worth the modest green fee.
16 Castle Stuart Golf Course - an absolute gem of a course. Put it on your bucket list!
17 Foulford Inn Golf Course - this is a small 9 hole Par 3 course attached to an old inn tucked away on a back road in rural Perthshire. The inn has closed but the course is still playable on a pay as you play basis. It was in superb condition when I played it and it's well worth playing, if you can find it.
18 The Castle Golf Course - St Andrews. Opinions on this newish links course are divided, but I liked it and there are some really good holes.
19 Crieff GC Ferntower Course - another seriously good heathland/parkland course close to Crieff Hydro Hotel in rural Perthshire. This is one of my favourite courses, with amazing greens.
20 Trump International Links Scotland - maybe one of the best courses in Aberdeenshire, but I'd not rush back. This is a view from the back tee on the 18th, all 651 Yards of it.
I hope the 70+ readers who tried this quiz enjoyed doing so and that I've whetted their appetite for golf in Scotland. Use the search box top left of the blog to find individual blog reports about all of the courses I've covered.
I'm posting these answers on 1 March 2014, the first official day of Spring and I'm on the tee in 55 minutes, so must rush! My efforts to play every course in scotland resume in a few weeks' time, with Maverston GC a new course that opens officially on 1 April. Check out www.maverstongolf.com.