As I write this post it is the evening of the last day of February 2015 and it is pissing down outside. As it has been doing more days than not this month on the South West coast of Scotland…
It’s been a week since my last post so I wanted to put something out there but I haven’t played any golf this week so I was at a wee bit of a loss for a topic. A friend suggested some musings over Tiger Wood’s spectacular fall to mediocrity or a preview of the upcoming US Masters, the first major of the season. Both good topics but both ones I am not really familiar with and would require some research so possibly they will come in due course.
And while I haven’t actually played golf this week, it doesn’t mean zero golf activities. Last night I watched (for probably the fourth or fifth time) Seve the Movie. If you haven’t seen it the tldr review is “good film, do watch it”. I will do a review of that at some point as well. (On that point, I am always keen to watch golf movies so please do send me recommendations – in the comments or on the contact form on the front page. I will add golf movie reviews to this site over the coming weeks and months.)
So, I thought I would write a few words about the topic that seems most popular on this blog – courses. I have already published a somewhat facetious “review” of one of the Troon Municipal courses and will write full proper reviews of all course soon so this post is just going to be a bit of an overview of the facility.
Troon is a small town at the north of Ayr Bay, on the Ayr Glasgow trainline. It is most famous for being a regular Open venue, Royal Troon again hosting it next year. However, it is also home to a very fine municipal facility. It is right next to the Troon train station so very handy if you want to visit by public transport.
(I read not that long ago that the number of golf courses in the South West which are located next to train stations is very much not a coincidence. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense – when golf gained popularity and lots of new players in the late 19th/ early 20th centuries, the train would have been the only way for the vast majority of players to reach the courses.)
The three Troon courses, Lochgreen, Darley and Fullarton all share the same clubhouse and tee off from the same area – the Fullarton far right, Lochgreen in the centre and the Darley on the left hand side. That means the three 1st holes are all in common ground, as are the 18ths and the Fullarton’s 17th (it has two par 3’s to finish).
I have never eaten in the clubhouse so can’t comment on the quality of food but I did once share a round at Fullarton with a visiting golfer who told me he had had an excellent curry for lunch before teeing off. There is also a wee teashop between the clubhouse and the train station which does a nice line in rolls, soup, tea and coffee etc. A couple of times this winter I have visited her to get a nice cup of soup to heat up again after a cold 18 holes!
I have spent a lot of time on the Fullarton course. It is by far the shortest of the three and is usually cited as an ideal course for seniors, ladies, juniors and beginners. I would put myself in the latter group so it suits me fine. I have yet to play on the Lochgreen course and have played only once on the Darley. It was good but tough as nails.
As noted, the three courses start in the same area. After the respective 1sts, the Lochgreen and Fullarton courses head to the right via a short walk to the bulk of the golfing land. This main area is very much links style holes, although there is apparently a short section of more parkland on Lochgreen. The two courses share a lot of terrain as the Fullarton does its loop inside the outer perimeter of Lochgreen holes. Lochgreen continues further south than Fullarton and almost reaches Royal Troon itself which is just the other side of the trainline on its way to Prestwick (the home of another very famous course which I would dearly love to play one of these days. With three figure green fees though, I am not entirely sure when that might be…).
The Darley goes in the opposite direction to Lochgreen and Fullarton, peeling left and north after the 1st. It has a “transitional” area then hits the stretch it is notorious for – holes 3 to 16. These are pretty tight and bound by gorse, heather and trees. I don’t know how many balls I lost the time I played there but it was quite a few! On one occasion I visited the clubshop prior to teeing off at Troon and bought a few lake balls to keep my stock up. The guy working there asked me “Are you playing the Darley today by any chance?” when he saw my purchase…
While Fullarton is the “easiest” of the three, I wouldn’t class it as easy for me – yet. If you can hit your tee shots reasonably straight, there a number of short par 4s which could be serious birdie possibilities but that’s a challenge for me still – hitting my tee shots straight. I am determined to beat the slice this year but as of the time of writing (end of February) haven’t really done much about it yet. I haven’t even visited the driving range yet this year…
So, a quick summary:
Lochgreen is the longest (6459 yards) and the top ranking (according to Golf South Ayrshire’s membership system) course of the three. It is acclaimed as one of the best municipal courses in this part of the world and has apparently been used as an Open qualifying course.
Darley is shorter (6016) but extremely challenging. Any wayward shots will cause pain. Lots of pain…
The Fullarton is a really fun course. At only 4682 yards, I have managed a round in just over two hours on occasions – basically you are relying on not getting stuck behind four balls of old men. I think for visitors with the time, it would make a really cool warm up to a round at one of the other two courses for a cracking day of golf.
As noted, proper reviews of all three courses will come as soon as the weather and my life allows. I could easily write a review of the Fullarton right now but I would like to take some photos especially for the post and not rely on Google Images.
Lastly, this is a promotional video from Golf South Ayrshire showcasing the three Troon courses and Belleisle and Seafield in Ayr. The chap talking about the Troon courses is Gordon McKinlay, the course pro. I have spoken to him on a number of occasions and he seems a really good bloke. I am going to enlist his services to fit my irons when I am in a position to do so.