The weather forecast for 2 July 2012 was pretty grim, with rain forecast throughout Central Scotland. I'd been planning to play a couple of courses South of Glasgow, hoping to dodge the heaviest showers, so first stop was Hollandbush, an 18 hole heathland course. The rain had stopped by the time I got there, but the course was closed due to flooding, with a second inspection due in an hour or so. This was the second time I'd tried to play there, my first visit in 2009 also being wasted due to flooding. I didn't fancy hanging around so I'll just try again sometime if it ever stops raining for long enough to dry this course out!
I still have a few courses to play around the East Kilbride area, a commuter town South of Glasgow, so my next stop was at the Broadlees Golf Centre, just outside Strathaven. This is a pay and play 9 hole parkland course, driving range and cafe that opened in 2002. With so much rain around in recent weeks, the 2954 Yards Par 36 golf course was heavy underfoot but perfectly playable. The greens were on the slow side thanks to the recent rain but overall, the course was far better than I'd expected and far better than most of the courses attached to driving ranges that I've played in my travels around Scotland.
The 1st hole is a flat 328 Yard Par 4, slight dog leg left running along the left side of the driving range. The flags at Broadlees were all partly red and yellow, so it was slightly confusing to see a yellow flag to the left of the 1st fairway, about 250 yards from the tee. Turned out that someone had built a full sized green complete with a deep bunker in his back garden. There was no sign of a teeing ground, so I'm definitely not adding that as a 1 hole golf course to our list of Scottish courses! A water hazard cuts across the 1st fairway but doesn't come into play unless you've hit a huge drive. I'd missed the green in regulation but a decent pitch and a long single putt (20 feet or so) saved the par. This is the view from the 2nd tee. A couple of beginners were playing behind me on the 1st and were still on the 2nd when I teed off at the 4th, so I guess they may have had trouble clearing the pond (110 yards or so)! The 2nd is the shortest of the Par 4s at only 291 yards, but the green is quite small and sits on a ledge half way up a small hill. I'd under-clubbed my second shot but another good pitch to within a few feet helped me rescue the par.
This is the 3rd, a slightly downhill 176 Yard Par 3. I missed the green to the left with my 23 Degree Rescue, so a bogey there. The 4th (Stroke Index 1) is an uphill 469 Yard Par 5, playing more like 500+ in the heavy conditions - and the heavy shower that started on that hole. I missed a wedge to the green for my third shot and thinned a pitch and run (an awful shot!) so another bogey there. The 5th is an uphill 430 Yard Par 4 that's even more tricky than the 5th, hence my double bogey in the heaviest of the rain. Welcome to July in Scotland!
It's a 30 yard walk to the 6th tee but by the time I'd got there the heavy rain had stopped. Only in Scotland. The 6th is a 292 Yard Par 4 and the easiest hole on the course. I'd hit a reasonably drive and had a short wedge to the green, which finished 4 feet away. I'm usually reliable from that range so an easy birdie. The 7th is a 456 Yard Par 4 with a stream crossing the fairway 150 yards out. From the tee it looks as though there's tons of room to the right beyond the stream, but what you can't see is that the fairway slopes down to the right and that the stream turns to run all the way up the right of the fairway. I'd hit a good drive but almost came to grief in the stream. From there it's a blind second over a small hill, with the green protected by a small stream, as shown here. I'd an easy sand iron to the green and got my par OK. A good hole, that, but the drive is more testing than you might expect.
The 8th is a slightly uphill 327 Yard Par 4. Nothing too difficult but I scored another bogey after a wedge to the raised green came up just short and plugged in muddy ground. The 9th is a 185 Yard Par 3, slightly uphill, that plays a lot longer than it looks. Another bogey after missing the green to the left off the tee. I'd gone round in 41 strokes, 5 over par, with 14 putts. I'd recommend you play this course if you're in the area with an hour to spare before tackling the excellent Strathaven GC course a mile or so down the road. At £10, Broadlees is also great value.
I was hoping to play another course in the area and got as far as the deserted car park at a course in East Kilbride. The course was flooded, with casual water clearly visible on the last green but the Starter said he'd let me play if I was daft enough. I chickened out and was glad I did so, since 10 minutes into my drive home a torrential shower was enough to convince me I'd taken the right decision.