I played this fine links course on 5 March 2010 with Polly. Since we found the new ladies Ping 30 degree rescue club she'd been looking for in the Pro Shop, the trip was worthwhile on its own, but even although the course had clearly suffered over the winter, I thought Panmure was a really excellent course. Some temporary greens were in operation, so the course was playing slightly shorter than the normal 6113 yards par 70, off the yellow tees. Our only reservation about the course was the lack of numbering on the tees, doubtless due to work being done off-season to refurbish or upgrade the tee markers. However, it did mean that our round had elements of guesswork that slightly detracted from our enjoyment of the round.
One of the features of my golfing travels around Scotland is to try to get at least one birdie on each new course. The first hole at Panmure is only 288 yards, so my drive left only a short pitch to the normal green. My dodgy iron play at Elmwood the day before had been forgotten, so after the pitch finished some 10 feet away, I managed to hole the putt for a birdie. Pressure off I thought, but after the first three holes, Panmure became a lot more testing. The 4th hole, shown above, is an absolute beauty. At 389 yards it's not long, but the green has a wicked slope at the front. My 7 iron second shot had been slightly pushed, missing the green to the right and although my pitch and run started OK, it caught the slope and finished a good 60 feet away from the hole and 6 or more feet below it. I did pretty well to get down in 2 for the bogey.
At 2 over 4's stood on the 6th tee (once we had found it!), I thought I'd settled into the round OK, but the 6th was Stroke Index 1, despite being only 369 yards. Polly found the narrow fairway OK, but my drive was hooked way left, into the heather. A wedge back into play was the sensible option, leaving an 8 iron to the raised green. As Panmure's excellent web site advises "the fairway narrows into the slight dog-leg at the landing area. An accurate approach aimed just inside the mound front left is required as the green is on a shelf and falls off on the right. Hogan's bunker is well positioned to gather the fading approach and ruin your score. Once on the green your problems are not over because a couple of ridges up the green make putting difficult. Try to leave yourself an uphill putt in dry conditions. It's not surprising this hole is stroke one on the card." My 8 iron finished behind a bush to the left of the green and from there, I managed a 9. A good par followed at the 7th, but I found trouble again at the 8th, a tricky short par 4 with a blind tee shot over gorse (magnetic, as ever) and a second normally played over 2 small dunes in front of the green. I struggled to a 6 and after another bogey at the 9th , an excellent par 3 with a raised plateau green, I had limped out in 45.
The 12th was one of those holes where, on a new course, it sometimes helps not to know the dangers lurking unseen, ready to snare anything under hit. I'd noted that the hole was called "Buddon Burn" but this is what I couldn't see from the fairway. I'd taken the precaution of taking a bigger club, since the approach shot looked to be all carry, and was happy enough to escape with a bogey 5 on what could be a real card wrecker of a hole.
I thought the best hole at Panmure was the 14th, a really strong par 5 of 519 yards, with the railway to the right coming into play for anything wayward. This was my tee shot, long and straight for once. A good 3 wood and wedge left me looking at a 10 foot putt for birdie, but the putt was slightly downhill and slicker than I'd expected. A poor bogey followed, but the 14th was a really good hole, for all that. I also finished the round weakly, ending up with a 90, net 78, and I'd lost the match to Polly, but somehow I didn't mind. I'd enjoyed the Panmure course, another of the excellent links courses we have in Scotland, with some really strong holes. I'd love to play this course again, perhaps in high summer when the course generally is playing faster, but next time I'd take a stroke saver and take greater care not to go left on the 6th!