Seafield is an easy-walking18 hole parkland course in Ayr, measuring a short 5253 Yards, Par 68, from the Yellow Tees. The course is owned and operated by South Ayrshire Council and shares the same site as the Belleisle Course, which I played in July last year (see Blog entry 418). Polly and I played the Seafield course on 12 April 2012 and the plan had been to play another local course (Roodlea) afterwards. However, Seafield was very busy and it was our misfortune to start behind a group of 4 balls, with the group immediately in front of us being particularly slow, so Roodlea will need to be done another day. Belleisle is a far more demanding course, which I guess might explain why it was almost deserted whilst groups of mainly elderly men were clogging the Seafield course.
The Seafield course is compact to the point of being potentially dangerous, with most of the tees located too close (and often immediately behind) previous holes. Accordingly, and in addition to waiting to play our drives and approach shots to greens, we were sometimes having to wait until the group in front were clear of the next tee before we could play. All very frustrating, with the group in front losing at least 2 holes to the group in front of them and not having the wisdom/courtesy to let us (or the considerable queue behind us!) play through. The Council's Course Ranger was on the course throughout, but did nothing to speed up play, being seemingly content to spectate, despite obvious evidence of slow play ahead of us. The course was in reasonable condition, but the greens were hairy, bumpy and very slow. The bunkers could have been raked sometime this year - but certainly not recently. I managed to hole this short putt for par on the 1st but any putt over 2 feet was just a lottery. Maybe the Seafield course just gets too much use or has suffered particularly badly over the Winter, but had we known just how bare some areas were around the greens we'd have played preferred lies from the beginning. We did eventually adopt that Winter tactic as it was sometimes almost impossible to play decent pitch shots from close in, particularly on some back 9 holes.
I don't want to be entirely negative about Seafield, though. OK, the pace of play was ridiculously slow and the course was not at its best, but the actual design is pretty good, apart from the safety issue on some holes that I've mentioned. On the front 9, I thought Holes 2 and 6 were very good. The 2nd is a 349 yard Par 4 played blind from the tee, with the small green lying beyond a stream that cuts across the fairway and comes into play on some other holes. The 6th is a 283 Yard Par 4, sharp dog leg right, with a wall running all the way down the left side. My bold drive over the corner actually worked, with my ball finishing 20 or so yards from the green. I'd reached the turn in 37 (4 over par with a couple of 3 putts), but 2 hours for a paltry 2600 yards worth of holes was tedious work. The back 9 is only slightly longer at 2652 yards, but has a par of 35, with a number of short Par 4s. The best hole at Seafield is probably the 17th, as shown above. This is a 301 Yard Par 4, played blind and downhill from the tee, with a stream immediately in front of the green, which slopes steeply from back to front. Had the green been running faster, my putt from the back of the green could have been pretty testing, but I got lucky that my approach putt finished close enough for an easy par.
Seafield closes with an interesting 274 yard Par 4, requiring an accurate drive between heavy rough and trees to the right and trees to the left. There's more space than you think, but a testing drive nevertheless. This is the 18th green - and yes, I missed the 6 foot birdie putt! For the record, I went round in 81, net 71, or 3 over net par, with 34 putts. Not too bad, but I 3-putted twice, other putts went almost sideways on the bumpy greens and I fluffed a couple of lob wedge shots from bare lies, so the score might have been so much better had the course been in better condition.
Seafield is worth playing, but if you're tempted I hope that you get it on a quieter day than we had and that the course is in better condition. If by chance you do try it out, say hello to Polly's new Titleist 3 (with 3 red dots around the number), as it may still be firmly lodged near the top of the 60 foot Pine that stands 50 yards out from the 16th tee on the centre-left of the fairway. Clearly visible from the tee, Polly claims.