Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Ross Priory Golf Course - Course no 653

This is a lovely little 9 Hole parkland course in the grounds of Ross Priory, one of the many buildings owned and operated by the University of Strathclyde.  The Priory and the course lie on the southern shores of Loch Lomond.  The course is reserved for play by University staff, but despite the rather forbidding "Private" signage at the front gate, the course can be played by the general public by prior arrangement for a very modest £15 green fee. This is me beside the 7th green with the Ross Priory building in the background. Pretty impressive as clubhouses go, but in reality also a building used by the University for a wide range of more serious academic purposes.  Douglas and I played here on 19 August 2014 after our short round at nearby Buchanan Castle GC earlier in the morning. Douglas had at one time been on the University staff (law rather than geography) and had last played here some years ago (which perhaps explains why we had to phone for directions after missing the turning off the main road from Drymen to Balloch).  

Anyway, the 1st Hole is a gentle slightly downhill 260 Yard Par 4, dominated by mature oaks. The fairway is pretty generous but we'd both collided with one of the huge trees to the left of the fairway.  I scrambled a bogey and noticed that the greens might be faster than they looked! The 2nd Hole is where the course really gets your attention. This is a steeply uphill 363 Yard Par 4 that plays far longer than it looks and rightly is the Stroke index 1 Hole.  This is me by the hole on the 2nd, with a glimpse of the Loch behind me.  I'd hit a great drive and a decent 27 Degree Rescue to within a few feet of the green, only to see my ball roll back down the steep slope in front of the green.  A lob wedge from there, with the hole towards the front of the green, found the upper tier of the 2-tier green. I'd a 20 foot putt with 2 feet of borrow (followed by a 10 footer that wasn't as straight as it looked).  The 2nd green was lightning quick, but a 3-putt double bogey was poor after my first couple of shots on this difficult hole.

Next, the magnificent 3rd, a steeply downhill 366 Yard Par 4 with one of the best views I've seen for a long time.  There was an outing of 10 or so senior golfers some holes in front of us who were playing the course twice for their 18 Hole competition.  They'd used the 3rd for a longest drive challenge so naturally I was pleased to see my drive finish good 40 Yards in front of their longest drive marker. On closer inspection these golfers all looked to be in their 70's but hey, it's not very often I hit such a good drive, leaving only a downhill 9 iron to the green.  I scored an easy and very satisfying 4.

The 4th is a slightly shorter version of the 2nd, steeply uphill with a the hole cut towards the front of a small plateau green.  I'd hit a pretty good drive and my 27 Degree Rescue second shot finished pin high to the left of the green.  An easy lob wedge to the green ran further than I'd expected, leaving me another 20 foot putt.  Same result as on the 2nd, a 3-putt double bogey. This is a view of the 4th green from the 5th tee, with Ben Lomond in the background.  The course was in great condition, as I hope this photo suggests!

This is the 5th, a 431 Yard downhill Par 4, with OOB to the left.  The fairway is pretty wide as is the adjacent 4th (which Douglas's drive nearly missed, finishing just short of the 3rd fairway!) Still, a wild slice off the 5th is preferable to a hook, as this photo makes clear.

The 6th at Ross Priory is the only Par 3, a "mere" 160 Yards to a small green protected by a stream that runs in front of and to the left of the green.  This hole plays longer than you'd think so don't be short.  Holes 7-9 are over on the other side of the driveway, adjacent to the 1st.  The Par 4 7th is a slight dog leg right and slightly uphill.  It's not long, at only 344 Yards, but some mature trees come into play.  I'd hit a good drive up the adjacent 1st fairway after not finding the cut I'd been hoping for off the tee and i was blocked out by high trees protecting the left side of the green.  A good 7 iron to the front edge of the green was the best I could do, but a par after that wayward drive was a great result.

The 8th is a bit like the 1st, a short downhill Par 4.  This time trees to the right of the fairway come into play.  I'd only a short pitch to the green out of light rough, but caught a flyer that finished 20 Yards through the back of the green in more light rough. That cost me another bogey, but neither of us was really too bothered by the scores, such was the quality of the course and the views to Loch Lomond and beyond.  The last at Ross Priory is a 330 Yard Par 4.  If you ever get the chance to play here, aim your drive slightly to the right of a gap in the trees in the far distance.  The hole dog legs sharply left so don't (like me) go up the left side of the fairway.  Trees either side of the fairway block anything too far right or left off the tee.  The only option I had for my second shot was a low punched mid-iron with a touch of draw (aye right!).  My third shot was somewhat similar, leaving me a short downhill lob wedge to the green. Thankfully, I sank the 15 foot putt for a closing bogey, to go round in 44 gross, net 38.5, with 18 putts. 

The  Ross Priory course is only 2857 Yards, Par 35 but with only one Par 3, scoring is difficult and each of the holes has to be treated with respect.  Hit it straight, get your short game in gear and be very careful on the greens and you might just score well and wonder what all of the fuss is about.  However, hit the odd loose shot get blocked out by trees or get the speed of the greens wrong and this little course will eat you alive.  Douglas and I had a great round that will live long in the memory.  The scoring wasn't much to write home about but the course itself certainly was.  Try to get a game here sometime and see if you agree.  A word of warning, though.  There were no midges to be seen when we played the course, but this is prime midgie territory!

No comments:

Post a Comment