After a great nights sleep in the highland tourist town of Braemar we took to the roads to make it to Blairgowrie where a 1042am tee time on the Alister Mackenzie designed Rosemount course awaited us.
After scooting through the highland roads in the merc, through a couple of Scottish ski areas such as Glenshee and Cairngorm we emerged in Blairgowrie ¬†a township situated in the northern part of the Perthshire district.
Greeting us was the familiar face of Marc Gentles ‚?? our pal from St Andrews, and his colleague who also keeps occupied by keeping the Old Course in tip top shape - Gavin.¬†¬† After a steady steam of rain all morning, the skies lightened some time between going in to change my shoes in the locker room and making it to the first tee.¬† Perfect.
The first hole was a rude awakening. After playing a couple of short tracks yesterday our ‚??warm up‚?? hole was a 438 yard dog leg left to a green surrounded by bunkers.¬† No time to loosen up and definitely no practice balls but we‚??re used to that now in Scotland.¬† The second hole said ‚??welcome to a MacKenzie course‚??. If the brown sand was turned a shade of white and the heather around the bunker edges turned into fescue, we could have been back at the Meadow Club on day 131‚?¶ Although even compared to San Francisco (the worst winter I ever had was that summer in San Francisco‚?¶) the temperature was cool and the jerseys were firmly still on.
The haggle? Gents and I against the pretenders.¬† Gents, coming off a 65 at the new course last week (read: this boy should stop messing around and become a pro golfer as he sure can play) was always going to be the trump card so when the balls came down I was safe in the knowledge that my partner had strong shoulders need I be carried for a few holes...¬†
The course reeked Mackenzie.¬† Most of the holes had widish fairways with half the bunkers guiding the way and the other half acting mainly as a visual deterrent. ¬†If I got a pound for every time someone said one of the cross bunkers that were often 30-40 yards short of the green ma de the hole look deceptively short, I would have left the course a rich man.¬† A few of the green complexes reminded us of Pasatiempo ‚?? for me the par three 17th sat back up at the tee almost like the famous 16th green at Pasatiempo.¬† The only issue was that the greens were rolling at about a 7 on the stint meter and therefore did not play as A. Mac. probably would have liked ‚?? navigating the slopes on and around the greens required far less skill to conquer than they ordinarily would.¬†
Some excitement happened early in the round after a string of a few pars had Gents and I out of the box running.¬† From about 100 yards out on the par five 5th ¬†hole, after pitching out of the heather, I managed to hole out with my trusty gap wedge and thereby break my Scotland Eagle Drought.¬† Finally!¬† It‚??s a crazy game ‚?? I‚??ve had all kinds of putts for eagle over the last month and missed them all but then this!¬† 30 pounds for The First Tee (10 from each of our donors ‚?? we‚??re currently looking for donors to take part in the Irish Birdie Challenge starting at Royal Belfast on 27 August!!!).
Another unusual feature of MacKenzie courses that popped up at Rosemount is back to back par fives ‚?? here on holes 10 and 11.¬† Back to back long holes is a great way to make or break your round particularly when each hole weaves through the trees and heather meaning that there is a premium placed on hitting the fairway.¬† Gents ate up the par fives hitting short irons into many of them and if he could putt would have been about 6 under through the stretch of four of them between the 5th and 14th holes.
Another cool hole followed the set of par fives ‚?? the 290 yard par four 12th.¬† MacKenzie at his best with bunkering everywhere and a huge element of risk reward if you try to drive the green. Gents went with the reward option missing his 4th eagle putt of the round whilst JP and I went for the ‚??risk‚?? option and managed to scrap out pars from all kinds of places you‚??re not supposed to visit.
Turning for the last four we were warned by the local lads that we were in for a treat of a finish.¬† I was hoping they wouldn‚??t be too difficult as after choking yesterday on going under par I was hoping to crack the nut again today by coming in with a birdie and a few pars.¬† The 15th didn‚??t disappoint - a short wedge to a tiered green sunk below a front bunker that blocked out the bottom of the pin and thus impacted our perception of distance.¬† We all flew it over the pin but Gavin and I were lucky enough to sneak our putts in ‚?? to half the first hole of the double or quits match (the main affair had been completed courtesy of another of Gents two putt birdies on the par five 14th).
16 was another gem of a par five snaking around a bonnie loch to a bowl green some 470 yards away.¬†¬† It‚??s really probably a par four-and-a-half (like many of the par fives here).¬† 17 again has a spectacular green and then 18 snakes down to the right although I missed that completely after playing down the first fairway‚?¶. Missing it big is key.¬† A putt for -1 on the last hole lipped out and so for a second day it wasn‚??t to be.¬† Gents on the other hand bottled a three footer to miss out on an under par round, but it was some display of golf after his horrendous start had him 4 over through 4.
As we finished out on the last and went in for a shower the rain begun.¬† Wet rain. People were fleeing the course and it looked unpleasant.¬† Again, it was perfect timing as we sat in the pristine clubhouse and had a spot of lunch before our drive through to Dundee in the afternoon.¬† Carnoustie tomorrow ‚?? better get a good nights sleep!
Posting comments has been disabled.