Polly and I had played the excellent 18 hole parkland course at Buchanan Castle GC some years ago, but I'd never played its Par 3 Academy Course, next to the driving range and surrounded by the main course. Buchanan Castle GC is at the south end of Loch Lomond, not far from the Ross Priory Golf Course - another on my "still to do" list. Douglas had played Ross Priory a few times before but we met up early on 19 August 2014, to tackle both the Par 3 Academy Course and Ross Priory.
The Par 3 Academy Course is 1249 Yards long, and a Par 27. The fairways are pretty narrow but there's no real rough on most holes, just lots of trees to avoid. However, stray offline on some holes and you're reloading, so be warned. For example, this is the 1st Hole, a 154 Yard Par 3. Tons of space to the left, but brutal rough to the right. I'd hit a reasonable 27 Degree Rescue to the front of the green, but Douglas had sliced a medium iron way right into the heavy stuff. Not a good start for Douglas, but I managed a par easily enough.
Next, a 203 Yard Par 3, with the small green well defended by trees, as shown here. I was well short with my Rescue club, the longest in the 1/4 set of clubs in my light bag. Douglas was taking no chances with a full bag, trolley and wet suit etc! I'd a short pitch to the green for my second, but instead of the languid 50 yard shot I was trying, my full wedge cleared the green by miles and finished just inches short of high rough. A double bogey was just sloppy play and I determined from there to concentrate better. The 100 Yard 3rd is just a flick with a wedge, as is the 86 Yard 4th, so easy pars that could have been better.
This is the 5th, a 132 Yarder. I'd a very easy 7 iron or a big 9 to choose from. The 7 looked to be the better option but sailed 10 Yards through the back of the small green. A par from there was pretty good! The 6th is another 100 Yard Hole, this time played into a slight wind. An easy 9 would have been sensible, but again I was through the back and this time it cost me a bogey. The 7th is a tight looking 202 Yard Par 3 that looks far longer than it actually is. This little course is almost absolutely flat (as is the main course), so with Douglas taking his driver and hitting another of the many trees, I borrowed that club (never a good idea in my experience) and hit an absolute stinker 40 yards right of the target, onto the middle of the 8th fairway. A bogey from there was actually not too shabby! The 8th is a good 145 Yard hole that again looks longer than it plays. An easy 7 iron and an equally easy par.
And so to the last, as shown here, a 127 Yard hole. A good 9 iron was just short and I missed a shortish putt, closing the round with another bogey. My score of 32 shots gross, net 26.5 with 11 Putts wasn't bad though and with better concentration and a lob wedge in my bag, could have been far better. This is a fun little course and a good test of your short game skills. The main course at Buchanan castle GC is well worth a visit, by the way, and if time permits a stroll round the Par 3 Academy Course would be a good warm up.