We'd got back to Lerwick after our game on Whalsay at around 1800 on 7 June 2011. Craig and Stu had booked themselves into a hotel, allegedly not far from where I was staying. Now Lerwick's a pretty small place, with a population of around 20,000, but the guys couldn't remember the name of the street where their hotel was, so the next half hour was spent cruising around, looking for the place. Just as we were giving up all hope, having drawn a blank with local enquiries, the owner of a small back-street Bed & Breakfast place phoned Craig to ask whether they were still on their way. By this time, we all needed a refreshment or 3 and at least there was a decent pub close by, followed by the afore-mentioned Chicken Volcano and fried rice. I'd like to report we had an early night in preparation for another long day's golfing, but no, that would be somewhat wide of the mark. Suffice to say that I picked the guys up at their B & B at 0730, as we'd 36 holes to play before the guys headed down to the airport for their afternoon flight back to Aberdeen en route to Edinburgh and home.
Shetland GC is an 18 hole moorland course of 5562 yards, Par 68, off the Yellow tees. The course is laid out on the floor and sides of a peaty valley, known locally as Dale. It had been raining for most of the night and as we teed off at around 0745, the rain was still falling. The course was even more damp than it had looked from the high road that almost surrounds the course and we were soon squelching our way across saturated fairways and through soaking clinging rough. This is Craig and Stu making their way down the 1st hole, a 354 yard Par 4. At least they'd found the fairway. I'd carved a wild hook into the heavy rough and was lucky to escape with a bogey. However, that was my shoes and trousers soaking wet. Perhaps is was just the darkening skies, the treeless landscape and the series of steep hills that looked to be awaiting us, but by the time we boarded the 2nd tee we'd agreed that this was likely to be a once-only visit.
The boggy conditions underfoot made progress difficult and tiring and even small inclines were being greeted by heart-felt promises that regardless of the physical demands of the course, we'd get round. The front 9 passed painfully slowly, but the 6th was a very decent hole, as shown here. This was a 297 yard Par 4, playing at least 350 yards in the absence of any run on the fairways. Although we'd noticed at Whalsay that at least an additional club was required for most shots, club selection at Shetland GC was even more difficult. I'd hit a decent drive up the left side of the fairway, narrowly missing a lateral water hazard, one of many streams that run through the valley floor, fed by rainwater from the surrounding high moorland. However, I still had an 8 iron to the green (falling short!). A good pitch and a tap in and I'd finally made a par. That was to be the highlight of the front 9, as I had a dismal 45, matching the weather and our gloomy spirits.
The rain eased a bit on the back 9, but although this was shorter than the front half of the course, the hills were even steeper, sapping our energies further and doing no good at all to the nagging tendonitis in my left Achilles tendon that had flared up, thanks to the heavy conditions. I did at least manage another 3 pars, including on this, the 18th. This is me looking suitably tired and not a little bedraggled after scoring an 85, net 75 or 7 over net par, with only 27 putts. It's not that my putting was especially good, it's that I was missing the greens due to under-clubbing and hitting some good pitches to the flags.
The Shetland GC had one further notable feature, a 150 yard improbably steep climb back to the car park. We'd gone round in well under 3 hours but none of us had really enjoyed it. Perhaps we were just tired before we started and the wet overhead and underfoot conditions didn't help, but none of us thought we'd want to play the course again. We were soon on our way to nearby Asta, hoping that its flatter fairways would be less tiring.