This was the first leg of the 2010 Polly v Alan golfing holidays matches, which are played on a Stableford basis over all of the courses we play during our various annual holiday breaks. We play for a small replica of the Claret Jug (which for the record is currently held by yours truly, though I have to admit that Polly usually wins). We were also planning to play at Celtic Manor (the 2010 Ryder Cup course and the Montgomerie course) and at Lockerbie, but more on those later). Dumfries and Galloway turned out to be a superb parkland course, full of variety and interesting challenges and at 5999 yards par 70 it's a good and fair test. The greens were in great condition, although slightly slower than at the Glen and overall, I thought this was an excellent course, which I'd recommend to anyone as a must play when you're in the area.
Polly had started brightly and was already some Stableford points ahead when we reached the 4th, a downhill par 3 of some 128 yards (for her). The greenkeeper stopped cutting the tee so that we could play and although it's always tricky to play in front of an audience, Polly hit a fabulous shot, almost holing in one and really impressing the greenkeeper, but sadly missed her short birdie putt! Meanwhile, I'd hit a dodgy hook, a neat lob wedge and sunk a fast downhill 20 foot putt for my par. It was to be that kind of round!
This is the 7th green, which I reached in a remarkable 8 shots. The 7th is a par 4 of only 394 yards but is aptly named "Devil's Elbow." The name alone should have told me that it might be wiser to avoid the right hand side of the fairway, but after a poor drive I was stymied by some trees and bushes. There was ample room to chip out of trouble and go for the green in 3, but no, I had to try for the tiny gap in the trees with a risky 7 iron. I finally holed out for a 10 with my third ball, thankfully managing to see the funny side of my "course management strategy." Some semblance of order was restored by a par 3 on the 8th and a great par 4 at the 401 yard 9th, the Stroke Index 1. This is a really tricky hole, with a large pond to the left of the green. The 10th is equally difficult and this is the view I had for my second, a tricky shot over another pond. As ever, half hit shots can be wayward and my 7 wood ended up to the right of the bunker, but a bogey here was acceptable. Holes 11-14 were also superb, but by the time we reached the 15th, a bout of stomach cramps had really set in (well, I'd been celebrating Rangers' latest league title the day before so it must have been something I ate!) and getting off the course in one piece became an increasing priority. That is my excuse for a poor 7 at the 16th and the speedy play of the last 2 holes. Thankfully, my drive at the 18th was straight and reasonably long, as shown below. After 2 bad holes (7 and 16) and a couple of 3 putts, I'd gone round in 90, net 80. Polly had also had some trouble on the back 9 and I somehow sneaked the match by a few points to go one up in our 2010 holiday competition. There was a long way to go and Celtic Manor was our next stop.