I played my first round of golf of 2015 this afternoon. Despite a fairly dodgy forecast, I got quite lucky with the weather and only had one heavyish shower and at 6°, with my thermals on, it was quite comfortable for playing.
I am going to put this in with the course reviews but I won’t be treating it as a proper review – winter greens and tees were in play all the way round today which shortens the course quite considerably and alters the nature of quite a few holes.
That said, it was still a very enjoyable round of golf – even more so as it had been almost four weeks since I had played and I was getting some severe withdrawal symptoms!
I played at Seafield Golf Course in Ayr, often considered to be Belleisles‘s “little brother”. Both Belleisle and Seafield are located in the Belleisle estate in Ayr which also offers country parkland, play areas and picnic spots (although maybe not in January). Belleisle offers a classic parkland course and a longer challenge, whereas Seafield gives the golfer a mixture of parkland and links.
The first five and last five holes of Seafield occupy the corner of the Belleisle Estate that the Belleisle course doesn’t use and the 14th and 15th holes run next to Belleisle fairways. The 6th through to 13th are “through the wall”, in the grassland area of Ayr known as the Old Racecourse (for obvious reasons). This part of the course plays very much coastal links style and the sandy soil offers better drainage.
Walking from the 5th green to the 6th tee:
Over on the Old Racecourse side, the character of the course changes very noticeably, this is the view from the 7th tee:
Gone are the flat fairways and now we have the rolling mounds of classic Scottish links golf. Some of the shots can be quite challenging as you are literally hitting blind over slopes. And with all the undulations around, some random bounces are sure to happen!
As I mentioned, the winter greens and tees did change this course quite a lot and an obvious example was the 10th. The winter green is on the fairway, in front of the mound where you would usually be shooting past:
The view from the tee:
And a little closer to the “green”:
The real green is probably another 100 yards further on, behind the hillock you can see behind the flag.
On this side of course you really do get a feel of being near the coast, from the sea breeze rolling in, to views of the Heads of Ayr (somewhat hidden in this shot but it’s the only one I have of that direction):
My best shot of the round today was on the 11th, a 336 yard (usually) par 4. I hit an OKish drive, sliced a bit so went less than 200 yards. I then shanked my approach shot so needed a third to get on to the “green”. My full swing 9 iron landed here though so I was reasonably happy with it:
The toughest hole on the course, the 13th, is to be found on the links section and it is also the longest. At 427 it is not the longest par 4 in the world but I have yet to reach it in 2, so for me it is the hardest hole on the course. The Stroke Index would concur.
After the 13th it is back through the wall to five more parkland holes to finish the round. The 14th is a lovely elevated tee, shooting slightly to the left with trees blocking a direct line of site to the green. I have never done so but at 252 yards it is a driveable par 4. In fact, last summer I was playing by myself and ended up joining the 2 ball in front of me. When we got to the 14th, one of the guys drove through the green!
Again, the winter green shortens the hole a fair bit so I would imagine the better golfers could reach the green with a 3 iron or hybrid or some similar club. I fell short today but had a wee pitch on to the green and got my par.
The 15th hole is not dissimilar in nature to the 6th at Dalmilling in that it is a short par 3 to a green guarded by a burn – that is with the summer greens. Today I shot at a spot short and to the left of the real green, on the same side of the burn as the tee. This is the usual green:
This is where I played today:
It was still a fun wee hole, just not as fun.
The 16th is probably my favourite hole of the course. It is a realtively short par 4, played from an elevated tee across the burn previously negotiated, over a valley and up the same hill that we just teed off for the 14th. That it, as long as you catch your drive right. Today I did, fading round the back of a stand of trees on the LHS of the fairway and finishing up on the plateau of the hill with just a wee pitch to go.
The 17th to me epitomises a description of Seafield that a friend once used: not that long but accuracy is important in order to score well. It is also another where the winter green totally changes the character of the hole. Teeing off from the same hill we did so for the 14th and then hit back up for the 16th, we play down a blind drop, laying up before we again reach the burn. (Longer hitters will take a long iron, I drive from the tee.)
This is the view from quite far back looking over the burn at the winter green:
In the summer it is a far more difficult shot to get on the green; it is further back tucked into the trees so your approach shot really needs to be on the money. (In the photo above, the summer green is right at the far left of the picture, behind the little path you can seeing running across the gap in the trees.)
To finish is another gem of a hole which, once again, is just not quite as nice on winter greens. You can’t see the green from the tee which is tucked back into the trees but it is a gentle left > right dogleg. This works for me as when I can control my slice, my drive tends to be a fade – so I aim straight up the fairway from the tee and generally go in the right direction for the green. Staying fairly central on the fairway also helps with the approach shot as the sides of the green are guarded by a couple of bunkers. (Which again were not in play today.)
***DOGWALKERS RANT KLAXON!
I have mentioned previously how having dog walkers wander all over a course really does piss me off. I had the same experience today. Seafield seems to be extremely popular with dog walkers. I guess being adjacent to the Belleiesle estate which homes woodland walks, these people seem to think it is cool to continue their trekking over the green golfy bits too.
Well, it is NOT. For some very good reasons:
- It is GOLF COURSE! Not a park or a woodland walk or a beach, a fucking GOLF COURSE! You wouldn’t walk across a football pitch when two teams were having a game, why do they think it is OK to wander across my fairway as I am trying to play a game of golf?!
- It is GOLF COURSE! It may be publicly owned land but it used for a purpose. It costs money to tend the grounds – money that I and other golfers pay for! Municipal golf course does not mean free golf course (I wish)! If golfers weren’t paying for it, it would probably be an estate of suburban 3 bed semis laid out in cul-de-sacs.
I thought I had seen it all but today I saw a guy, about the same age as me, with his mutt, saunter across a pair of adjacent greens, tossing his ball for the dog to scamper across the GREENS to fetch… These are the greens that I am not currently allowed to play on so as to protect them, allow them to regrow for the upcoming season, and some arsehole thinks it’s cool to exercise his fucking dog on them?!
Considering the winter weather, the course was in rather nice condition today. I was getting caught out a wee bit with the putting as the links side of the course played quicker than the parkland side but all things considered it was a very enjoyable way to spend a January afternoon. I did score myself but considering the state of the course I don’t think it would be appropriate to add it to my “unofficial” handicap tracker.
I will play again in the coming months and write again about how the “full” experience compares to the winter state.