Some years ago, an American golf professional realised his dream of having a Scottish castle and his own private golf course. Unfortunately for him, his German girlfriend, who had helped finance the deal, left him for another guy. The castle and the golf course were put up for sale and are now owned by a development company that is currently developing new courses being designed by Jack Nicklaus on the Ury Estate in Scotland and in St Lucia. The Pitliver Estate is private but Douglas had played it a while ago and since it is literally just over the fence from Dunfermline GC, I thought I'd check it out after my round over the Par 3 Course at Pitfirrane on 7 July 2014.
I was understandably nervous about intruding on private property without so much as a phone call to check that I'd get access to the course. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Past the private property no admittance sign and onto the long driveway, I stopped the car to speak to a man clearly hard at work clearing overgrown shrubbery. This turned out to be Mark, one of the owners and the friendliest of hosts, as it turned out. I asked whether there was any chance I'd be able to play the course sometime but Mark almost got there first, saying "if you've got your clubs with you, just come on in. The course is almost never played so please, help yourself. Just park your car down the road a bit and I'll get you a scorecard." Mark then led me to the 1st tee and told me that the course had been designed by Donald Steel (the leading golf course architect) and had opened in 1999. He explained that weather problems in the past year ahd damaged the greens and that although much of the rough around the course had been cut back, the fairways were anrrow and he hoped I'd not lose too many balls. I was more than welcome to seek him out if I ran out and he'd happily give me some more!
The Pitliver Course is a 9 hole parkland course measuring a short 2150 Yards, Par 31. As Mark had advised, the fairways were extremely tight and only straight hitting and a good short game would keep the score down. I'm not over-keen on dogs generally, but Mark's golden labrador seemed friendly enough, though I wasn't so sure about his pair of gun dogs. I needn't have worried, as one of the gun dogs kept me company around the first few holes until he got bored watching the spectacle of a strange golfer hacking his way around. The course starts with a slightly uphill 153 Yard Par 3 as shown here. A good 27 Degree Rescue to the side of the green, an easy par and I was off to a good start.
The 2nd at Pitliver is a flat 443 Yard Par 4 where only the straightest of straight will do. I'd found the middle of the fairway off the tee, but a slightly wayward 3 Wood led to the first lost ball. I scrambled a double bogey, but I'd only 5 more balls in my bag (all new). My friendly canine companion was clearly not interested in helping me search for my ball, so I was hoping that Mark wouldn't be too far away if I needed to impose further on his hospitality. The 3rd is a 348 Yard dog leg right Par 4. Easy enough if you steer clear of the bunker short left of the green, that is. That mistake cost me another double bogey. This is the 4th, a 155 Yard Par 3. As Mark had said, the greens at Pitliver were in poor condition, making putting very difficult. I was happy to not 3-putt any of the greens, but scoring was still pretty tough. I managed to par the 5th a short 262 Yard Par 4 played into the wind with the narrowest fairway on the whole course. A good drive and a pitch to just left of the green was enough to scramble an easy par.
This is the 6th, a downhill 115 yard Par 3 played over a small river. A disappointing bogey there, after finding the small pot hole bunker to the left of the green. If you ever play here, please note that if you climb back up the hill and tee off from the tee next to the 6th, you'll have missed the 7th completely! As I eventually found out, the Par 3 7th Hole is actually tucked away up the hill and to the left of the 6th green. There was a perfectly good map on the scorecard, but yet again I got lost, costing me an extra few hundred yards' walk. The 8th is the Stroke Index 1 Hole and is a dog leg right 355 Yard Par 4, played from an elevated tee. Left is dead, as I discovered when my second shot hooked its way into oblivion on the other side of the river. A second lost ball, but barring disasters it looked as though I'd be able to finish the round without Mark's further assistance. Another double bogey though.
The last hole at Pitliver is a 174 Yard Par 3. A slightly wayward drive flirted with some seriously high rough and led to a closing bogey. I'd gone round in a poor 41 gross, net 35.5 with 16 putts. This is a seriously good course with an interesting mixture of holes. I hope the greens recover, as in prime condition, this would be a really good test of anyone's game.
I'd thought the Ury development might not happen, but Mark assured me that site work is scheduled to start after enabling works are in place so no doubt that'll be another course to add to our list in a few years' time.