This is a 9 hole parkland course lying next door to the more formidable Spey Valley championship-standard course in Aviemore. Polly and I had played at Spey Valley in August 2010 (see Blog entry 345), but we didn't have time to play the 9 Hole Course. I had to wait until 18 June 2013 for that particular "pleasure" though Douglas a friend of mine who is also doing the all-courses challenge on his own, reckoned Dalfaber's 9 Hole Course greens were the worst in Scotland, "no question." Maybe Douglas had played here off-season, because most of the greens were pretty good when I played at Dalfaber on 18 June 2013. However, the course set up was severe, with penal rough bordering alarmingly narrow fairways. I found this surprising, as the course is clearly intended to serve the tourism market and in particular those resident in the adjacent holiday village attached to the Country Club. The course was quiet when I played it, apart from one elderly guy wandering around looking for balls that he'd lost on various holes. When our paths crossed early in my round he said he hoped I'd brought lots of balls. He was still looking on a different part of the course when I finished my round an hour later!
The Dalfaber Course is short at 2380 Yards Par 3, if you believed the (temporary) scorecard that is - the Country Club had run out of proper cards (during the peak season?). The 9th is supposed to be a 195 Yard Par 3, but looked more like 130, but more of that later. The course starts with a 213 Yard Par 3. Just hit the green and don't 3-putt. I got my par that way and was pretty pleased, as there was ample evidence from the outset that it would be essential to avoid the rough. This is a view of the 2nd fairway and yes, it really is that narrow, with OOB all the way down the left. This hole is only 339 Yards, but miss the fairway at your peril. I missed by a yard and was lucky to get a decent lie, enabling me to hack an 8 iron second shot onto the green. Another par, though.
The 3rd is all of 394 Yards long and under 20 Yards wide and had me looking in my bag for an old ball. It was here that I encountered my new elderly friend, cursing the course set up as he looked in vain for who knows how many balls he'd lost. I settled for a bogey after a good drive missed the fairway by a couple of feet. The 4th is an easy short Par 4 if you hit a reasonable drive and to be fair, this fairway is wider than most others. I'd hit a good drive and had only a short pitch to set up an easy par.
The 5th hole is just silly. A Stroke Index 1 238 Yard uphill Par 3 with a narrow fairway played into a stiff headwind is not my idea of holiday golf. Widen the fairway, call it a Par 4 and golfers might actually enjoy the hole. I hit Driver a yard off the fairway and spent almost the full 5 minutes trying to find my ball, played a great chip over a bunker out of heavy rough and barely missed the par putt. A very, very, poor hole for all but the best golfers (who are more likely to test themselves over the championship course next door).
This is the view from the 7th tee. There's actually tons of room beyond the trees and with a more generous approach to fairway definition, this 284 Yard Par 4 could be testing enough for casual holiday play. However, factor in a narrow fairway and only a very straight drive will do. I took a bogey despite finding the middle of the fairway!
This is the 9th, supposedly a 195 Yard Par 3. Barely 130, if that.
I don't know enough about green keeping to guess what's wrong with the 9th green, as shown here. Maybe dead moss and thatch, but it just looked awful and didn't play much better. Maybe my friend Douglas had a point after all.
I went round Dalfaber in a nervous 36 (net 30.5) with 17 putts without losing a ball, despite finding the rough on several occasions. I doubt I'd play this course again, even if the course set up was more user-friendly.