Thursday, 1 May 2014

Hazlehead No 2 Course - Course no 636

I played Hazlehead's No 2 Course on the afternoon of 29 April 2014, after my games over the No 1 Course and the adjacent Hazlehead Pitch and Putt Course.  I'd not read up much on the No 2 Course other than the Aberdeen City Council's advice that it was originally a 9 hole course, extended in the 1970's and that since it's more open than No 1, it's thought to be more suitable to higher handicap players.  The fairways are certainly wider and there's slightly less trouble to navigate your way past, but this is a seriously good course and if anything the Council's brief description undersells this excellent course.

No 2 was in great condition, far better than the "work in progress" on No 1 and was just great fun from start to finish.  Don't be fooled into thinking that No 2 is anything less than a serious test of your game, particularly if, like me, you're tackling it immediately after a round over the rigours of the No 1 course.  No 2 starts with a tight 154 Yard uphill Par 3, which plays a lot longer than you'd think.  I hit an easy 20 Degree Rescue and was still a few feet short of the green and with the flag up at the back of the green, I was delighted to start with a dodgy par. From there, you walk a couple of hundred yards left, over a road, to the rest of the course.  The 2nd hole, as shown here, is also steeply uphill and although it's only 282 Yards, this short Par 4 also plays longer, so you might want to take an extra club for your second.

The 3rd is downhill, crossing the 18th fairway, and is a 184 Yard Par 3.  It was a cool and increasingly foggy afternoon and as it turned out, the guy playing the 18th when I was on the 3rd turned out to be the nearest player ahead of me on the course.  The fog increased my sense of isolation going round, the only other sounds being the birds in the trees.  Just remarkably peaceful, quiet and relaxing, with nothing to think about except the next shot.  The 3rd green slopes down away from the tee, so be careful not to over-club.  That error cost me a bogey.  The first 3 holes were pretty easy, really.  I was only 1 over and thinking that the Council might be right in thinking that the course was more suitable for higher handicappers.  However, Holes 4-6 are as testing as you'd ever need, whatever your handicap.  The Par 4 4th is slightly uphill and at 412 Yards is rated the 2nd most difficult hole on the course.  You need to hit your drive dead straight, as anything left is OOB and anything right will find the rough and leave you facing certain bogey or worse.  I hit what I thought was a decent enough straight drive, but the lack of roll on the damp uphill fairway left me well out of range of the green.  A bogey there was reasonable, though.  The 5th, as shown above, is a great Par 4 hole, steeply downhill and at 415 Yards, well within reach in 2 if you avoid the fairway bunker and large pine tree on the right side of the fairway.  Sadly, another error in clubbing led to another bogey.  As you walk down the 4th, especially after playing No 1 in the morning, your gaze will be drawn to the adjacent 5th, a 405 Yard Par 4 that goes back up the hill your going down.  Three consecutive bogeys on these holes put a bit of the dent in the scorecard, but all was not lost.  Holes 7-9 offer some respite.

The 7th is a 156 Yard Par that should have been easy enough, but I'd missed the green to the right and finished between a bunker and some gorse bushes, with barely enough room to play any direct shot to the flag.  A good 58 degree lob wedge saved the day and almost led to a birdie, but I was happy enough to score a par after such a poor tee shot.  The 8th and 9th holes are short Par 4's so after a sticky time on 4-6, I was out in 37 and playing reasonably well.  However, I'd noticed that the Back 9 was almost 300 Yards longer and with occasionally very dense patches of fog to content with and tiredness setting in after my earlier round on Hazlehead No 1, the Back 9 looked to be far more testing.  It starts gently enough with an uphill Par 3 of 162 Yards, but for reasons unknown I hooked my tee shot into forest on the left, leading to a dodgy bogey that could have been worse. I'd also managed to rip open my new Callaway golf glove - last time I'll buy one of them!  I'd only a shamefully worn out old glove in the bag and was later glad to be able to wash my hands after throwing that one away, but at least it helped on the remaining holes.  The Stroke Index 1 hole on the No 2 Course is the 11th, a 420 Yard Par 4 played slightly uphill.  I would have parred the hole had I not missed a short putt and another miss from no great distance on the 487 Yard par 5 12th hole cost me another bogey. I'd not noticed that the increasing fog had helped to slow the greens down!

The fog got really bad on holes 16 and 17 and my game was briefly reduced to ball retention rather than good scoring.  This is my limited view from the 16th tee on a 111 Yard Par 3.  I managed a par after hitting my 9 iron tee shot to within 20 feet.  Just lucky though, as the flag only became visible once I was a lot nearer to the hole.  I've no idea what the 17th was about.  The card said 414 Yards but it was just a question of hoping I was playing in the right direction and could find the ball afterwards.  A double bogey was decent enough in the circumstances since the course at that point was almost unplayable.

Just as I was fearing that my round would end in dense fog, the last hole was remarkably clear, as shown here.  10 minutes later and another fog bank had rolled in, but at least I managed to squeeze in that last hole before then.  The 18th is a downhill 366 Yard Par 4, played to an elevated plateau green that slopes down away from the tee. I'd come up just short of the green in 2, so it was a bit disappointing to finish with a bogey.  No 2 is a really good test and well worth playing, even in preference to No 1, until such times as its renovation is more complete.  I went round No 2 in 80 gross, net 69, with 33 putts.  2 over net par on such a foggy day was good scoring so I was really pleased.  I'd like to play No 2 again sometime and strongly recommend you give it a try.

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