When I played the King's Links Course in Aberdeen on 6 November 2012, see Blog Entry No 554, I played the Winter layout, with parts of the course played backwards, in a different sequence or using tees to different greens from the Summer layout. As I said back then, that layout was extremely confusing and not particularly enjoyable. I hoped that when I eventually played the Summer layout, the experience would be more positive. Thankfully, when Polly and played the Summer layout on 25 August 2014, the course actually matched the scorecard and the layout was generally easy to follow (though far from easy to play).
The King's Links Summer Course is 5799 Yards Par 71. Most of the holes are genuine linksland, with sandy soil and typical humps and hollows, but the more inland and last few holes are less linksy, with a predominance of meadow grass rather than fescues. The course was in pretty good condition, apart from the greens, which were far slower than I'd expect of a Scottish links course in the Summer and were also surprisingly bumpy. This is a view back up the 1st Hole, an easy enough 355 Yard Par 4. Favour the left side of the fairway off the tee and you will get a clear view of the green. Go right and you'll have a blind shot in, with a hidden bunker to negotiate. I'd been expecting the 1st green to be fairly fast, but my 30 foot putt was woefully short, hence my opening bogey. I also 3-putted the 2nd and generally struggled to get the pace of the greens during the first few holes. Even when I managed to get the pace right, the bumpy greens made putting (literally) hit and miss. My 5 single putts and 33 in total was down to a good short game after missing greens in regulation, rather than any great skills with the putter.
The Front 9 at King's Links is over 500 Yards longer than the Back 9 and is by far the more difficult section of the course, with some pretty narrow and undulating fairways, blind shots and slow greens. I was out in 44 with 19 putts and although I was swinging reasonably well (and actually got my handicap cut by 0.6 strokes a few earlier) scoring here was difficult. The Back 9 starts with a tough looking slightly uphill 171 Yard Par 3, played to a plateau green. I'd landed just short of the green and had a simple chip but Polly had been slightly shorter and had an almost blind shot. This hole plays into the prevailing wind and is one of the better holes on the course.
The easiest hole is definitely the 12th, as shown here, as 246 Yard Par 4. This also plays into the prevailing wind but is still easily drivable. I landed in a greenside bunker but a good sand iron to 10 feet set up my first birdie (and it's not often get to write "first birdie) in any Blog entry!). My second was at the 457 Yard Par 5 15th, usually played downwind. I'd hit a wayward drive into heavy rough and could only hack it out a few yards, but a good 3 Wood to 15 feet led to a rare second birdie. I'd mis-hit the putt but for once the bumps on the green were kind!
The last hole here is a 182 Yard Par with a main road immediately right of the hole. There's a high fence but it's wise to wait until the traffic is clear! I'd a good closing par there for a Back 9 of 37, only 3 over par. I went round in 81, net 70 or 1 under net par. If only the greens had been better, I guess that score could have been significantly lower, but as we all know, "if only" features in most stories about golf scores! Overall, King's Links is a pretty decent test but I doubt I'd rush to play it again. There are many other and better courses in the area.