The 1st tee is some 50 feet above the Lochsie river. There are two trees ten yards apart just in front of the teeing area, which clearly focuses the mind if “timber” is to be avoided. Beyond is fraught with danger as well; the fairway has a funneling V-shaped effect with a distinctive bank to the left. A fiendishly difficult approach faces one. On the other side you have the Lochsie running the full length of the fairway up to the green, situated at its narrowest point. Now for the really bad news, this is a par 3, measuring 235 yards, stroke index 1, and invariably into the prevailing wind, so for anyone brave enough to have a go at reaching the green with their first shot it’s likely to feel as if you’re threading an eye through a needle.
The 2nd has a slightly innocuous feel to it – but how wrong can one be? It plays at 140 yards and the demarcation of the green is somewhat lost against the hillside. A dyke and a patch of trees lie to the right and these are the only features visible from the tee. Upon arrival at the required destination, fairly quickly it becomes apparent that trouble lurks to the left, with the green leaning to that side. With a hollow sloping away again to the left there is the continuation of the dyke from the right hand side to contend with, and that spells danger to anyone with an extended draw.
The 354-yard 3rd turns back down the glen from an elevated tee, and careful club selection is a prerequisite here as a drive too far will catch out the unsuspecting who will find themselves retrieving their ball from the small burn. It would be prudent to play some way short from the water hazard as it will give greater sight of the flag stick since that’s perched on a hillock some 70 feet above the fairway.
The 4th is a very interesting and deceptive par 3. The green in the distance at only 162 yards has a camber highlighted against a Scots pine plantation, and those with keen eyes may be able to depict one of the original greens laid out by Mackenzie. The way to play the shot here is for the golfer to line up on the bank to the right of the green and then let it roll down, anything left of the pin is in deep trouble, occasionally dead and buried.
The 5th, in American parlance, is probably considered to be the signature hole. A gentle right handed dogleg of 160 yards, it’s played from a newly created tee sitting well below the hole. It tracks up across a deep gully to a green protected on either side by hillocks scattered with some strategically placed trees. The requisite shot is a slight fade and more than likely two clubs more than is originally thought if played into a prevailing wind such as experienced by your reviewer. Essentially, depending upon the climatic conditions, it can be anything from a 2 iron to an 8 iron. A very pretty hole with Dalmunzie House as the backdrop.
Ah, now for the 6th, the longest on the course at 450 yards, and it plays every inch into any sort of breeze. The small and exposed tee is perched high above the fifth green, and for those with a nervous disposition for heights, any fear may be easily remedied by marvelling at the 360-degree panoramic view, before the big stick is unleashed. Mind you, agoraphobia might kick in. Anyway, the left half of the fairway is ideal to give a good line for what will be a long iron approach, as with the right half the ball will be flirting with the burn and, for anyone with a tendency to over extend the draw, ‘timber’ awaits. And anything long will find the drink – the non-distilled stuff, that is!
At 116 yards, the 7th seems pretty straightforward – but that’s before the Lochsie has been negotiated. It cuts a path fronting the green at 105 yards so it’s no good being shy here, as many no doubt will have found to their cost. Clearly it pays to go long, but there’s also a pronounced ridge running to the rear of the green that can act as a buffer, so in off the cushion is an added incentive not to quit on the shot.
The 8th is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most difficult here. At 162 yards, length is not the problem. The tee is offset, but on the left an overhanging tree 50 yards out cuts down the line of flight. Beyond that pines loom large as if they were protecting the green on the left. In fact, three trees surround the right half of the green so the shot is, if one is able to execute it, to line up as if you’re playing to the tree guarding the right side of the green and pray a draw kicks in. Coming off with par will feel like a birdie.
The 9th at 320 yards is a really demanding finishing hole. This severe dogleg bending towards the house requires a long and accurate drive channelled into an ever-decreasing landing area so as to open up the green. Unfortunately the River Lochsie is never far away, and in this instance it embraces the fairway for most of its journey to the golfer’s left. As you’ll have gathered by now, the Lochsie is a most potent hazard, and those who escape its clutches will more than likely have had a most satisfactory round!
Having visited 12 previous locations in Scotland this has to be the scenic best. Beautiful views, lovely cottage and excellent hosts. Weather brilliant. Will definitely come again. 5 star. Sad to leave.Harry and Chris Smith.