I suspect that few people either living in or visiting Edinburgh will be aware that within a few miles of the city centre there's a large house with its own golf course within its grounds used exclusively by the owner's family and friends. Understandably, the owner would rather we didn't mention either the name of his course or its exact location. The course has been there for over 20 years and was designed by its current owner, to be played in a random running order, as the mood takes him. There are 5 tees and 8 greens (one of which was closed for maintenance when we played the course on 13 June 2014). The Greenkeeper suggested we tackle the course in a particular sequence, so here's what we played and my own score -
Hole Distance (yards) Par My Score Putts
1 88 3 4 3
2 281 4 4 2
3 158 3 5 1
4 147 3 6 2
5 133 3 4 2
6 171 3 5 3
7 216 3 5 2
Totals 1059 22 33 15
This course is parkland in nature, with mature trees coming into play on all of the holes. Indeed, the owner has resisted the temptation to prune trees back to preserve clear lines from tees to greens, meaning that on some holes blind shots are required. This is a view of the 1st, a steeply downhill short Par 3 played over a stream. This photo was taken to the left of the actual tee, since from there, only the very left side of the green is visible. The greens here are generally soft and slow, so putting was very difficult. Craig, Stu and I were joined by our friends Douglas and Graeme (who is playing every course in Scotland for a liver disease charity). Douglas and I made the green with our tee shots, but I had to settle for a bogey after under-estimating the slow pace of the green.
The 2nd hole here is the longest on the course, requiring a reasonably straight drive between large trees, as shown below. The fairways were pretty lush, soft and very slow running, so I needed Driver and a half-wedge to reach the green in regulation. Two putts later and I'd managed my opening (and only) par of the round.
The 3rd and 4th holes are both downhill Par 3's played over a stream from a single tee high above and left of the 2nd fairway. The trees around this tee almost completely obscure both greens, as shown below. We opted to play both holes at once rather than walk all the back up the hill to play the 4th, so saving time and energy. My drive to the 3rd found a greenside bunker and my drive to the 4th was short of the stream. However, subsequent trouble in the bunker and in the stream cost me shots and 11 strokes for 2 short Par 3s was pretty poor!
These holes had been pretty tricky but Holes 5 and 6 were even more difficult, played from a single tee close to the 4th green, as shown here. Holes 5 and 6 share the same green and are respectively 133 Yard and 171 Yard Par 3's. This is the view from the tee! you need to be dead straight off the tee, clear the bushes and avoid the big tree to the right of this photo, and above all stay out of the stream that runs all the way down the right side of these holes. After seeing my playing partners come to grief with their shots (we'd again played both holes at once to save time and energy) I laid up with a wedge onto the adjacent 2nd fairway, with the intention of chipping the balls onto the long 5th/6th green. I don't remember ever laying up at a short Par 3 before and this plan came unstuck when I half-shanked my tee shot at the 6th, leaving myself no nearer the hole than when I started from the tee. My scores of bogey and double bogey on these holes weren't great, but at least I wasn't fishing balls out of the stream, unlike most of my playing partners.
The 7th and last hole on this little private course is a 216 Yard Par 3, played over a pond towards a large house in the distance. The green itself is hidden by the trees to the left of that house and my tee shot just barely clipped the very top of one of those trees, leaving me an awkward lie on the banks of a stream. I closed with another bogey, to go round in a lamentable 33, or 11 over par, with 15 putts. However, playing this course wasn't about the score, it was just about enjoying the kind hospitality of its owner. We really appreciated having the opportunity to play here, so thanks once again to its owner. We'll all be making charitable donations as a final thank you.