Polly and I played the excellent Buddon course at Carnoustie on 3 July 2010, our first game in a planned 8 day holiday trip to play some new Scottish courses. Each year Polly and I play for our Summer Cup, a small silver replica of the Claret Jug. I'm the current holder and am leading 3-1 after our earlier trip to Celtic Manor (see blog entries posted on 14 May 2010). We're both pretty competitive and Polly was on good form, having recently won the 2010 Ladies B Championship at our Club, so we were in high spirits for this game. This round also marked the halfway point of my personal journey around Scotland's courses, my 74th new course in 2010 and my 106th game since retiring at the end of January. The Buddon course serves as an excellent partner to the more formidable Burnside and Championship courses at Carnoustie, and although it's often described as an easier introduction to links golf, we were to find it anything but easy, on a hot day with a strong gusting wind into our faces for most of the front 9 and behind us for the back 9. The course was still baked dry from the recent weather, the fairways and greens were slick and fast and the greens were tricky to read (always a good excuse!) Add in some water hazards in a loop around holes 10-13 and this course becomes a difficult test of shot making and patience, but is great fun to play. At 5420 yards par 66, Buddon is not long and is pretty flat, but the conditions would probably have added quite a few strokes to par (another standby!) Buddon is wedged between the Championship course and a large military firing range, so although we'd expected a peaceful walk in the sun, the machine gun training during the front 9 was pretty disconcerting. Indeed, I swear I mishit a couple of shots when gunfire broke out during my backswing (now that's a more unusual excuse!) I'd started with a couple of bogeys on tricky par 4s played directly into the wind so this, the 172 yard par 3 3rd hole was my first chance to recover. The wind was probably about 25mph from green to tee so I was pleased to hit and hold the green with my 3 wood and just missed the birdie putt. A passing Course Ranger commented that although it was "breezy" the forecast was for 60-70 mph winds and rain for the next day, when we were due to play at Fraserburgh, another exposed links course. We'd better make the most of our Buddon game!
We both thought the best hole at Buddon was the 4th, a 390 yard par 4 played directly into the wind, with a lateral water hazard and out of bounds on the right and another water hazard in front of the green. Polly's drive ended up AOB on the adjacent Championship course, but she made a 4 with her second ball, thanks largely to this excellent fairway shot. I made a rare genuine par thanks to a 12 foot single putt, but I was finding the greens extremely difficult, as most were quite undulating and any stroke was affected by the gusting wind. A couple of 3 putted greens contributed to my outward 40 (7 over par) and although I was just ahead of Polly in our Stableford match, my putter was stone cold. I managed a good par at this, the 175 yard par 3 13th, after a good downwind 8 iron ran off the side of the green and I almost holed the chip, but more putting woes and a sh--- on 17 led to a disappointing homeward 47. I'd gone round a supposedly gentle primer for Carnoustie's more formidable courses in 87, net 77, or 21 over the course par of 66. I'd also lost to Polly, making our 2010 Summer Cup score 3-2. Fraserburgh and storms next day. Oh joy! Buddon was fantastic value for money, was in great condition and a real challenge. Don't miss it if you're in Carnoustie to test yourself on the Championship Links. Another tip - the local clubhouses welcome visitors and the food and friendship in the Carnoustie GC's clubhouse was outstanding, as was the impressive display of golfing memorabilia highlighting the success of the famous Smith brothers from Carnoustie who had won many a US tournament in their day.