Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Royal Ashdown Forest West Course

So the Old Course tends to get all the plaudits, but the par 68 West Course at Royal Ashdown Forest is more than worth a look at. At 5606 yards off the whites it's not long, but it's a great test, with a fantastic closing run of holes. In fact it's a complete joy pretty much from start to finish, although it's the turn and the back nine that really grabbed my attention.  

It was all going so well for me until the 18th. 5 skins being played for, and I hit a decent enough drive to the right of the fairway. But this is where the trouble starts. At 435 yards you need a bit of length to be in position to get a chance at the green, as there's a dirty great stream 30 yards in front of the green, and water to to the left. Tried to play safe and lay up but hacked it into some rubbish on the left. No dramas as my rival had found some water early on. Got it back in play, but a little too near the new foot bridge that they are building over the stream. Managed to chip straight in the water. Dohhh! Worst shot of the day, 5 skins lost to a bleeding 6. But I'm certainly going back. 

It's also easy to get onto, even at the weekends, and doesn't cost a fortune. At the moment you can  play for £21 after 1.30pm on a Saturday or Sunday. I think that's until the end of May, so I'd suggest you get on with it.

This has to be some of the best golf to be had in Mid Sussex - and like the Old Course it doesn't have bunkers either, which always gets my vote.


Friday, 17 April 2009

Golfing at Machrihanish

I'm just back from a wonderful and remote corner of Scotland, which is in parts nearer to Ireland than England. 

From Glasgow you head up to Loch Lomond, and then take a sharp left which takes you over to Inverrary. Then keeping on going and you will come to Campbeltown. It's only a 138 miles from Glasgow, but it will take at least 3 hours - the scenery is stunning though, so it's a wonderful drive. 

Then a bit of a left and a right and you'll find yourself at Machrihanish Golf Club, one of the finest links courses to be enjoyed in Scotland - or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

Its most famous feature is the first, where you have to drive out over the sea to reach the fairway. Classic risk and reward shot - you can just chunk it over and find the generous fairway, but be miles from the pin, or you can try and take in on and flight your ball over the water to get in position for a better second into the pin. The one advantage within all of this is that it favours a slice, so I wasn't too troubled. Started it way out and sure enough my consistent slice bought it back in and in fine position for a chance at the green.

The second's not a bad either - drive up to a stream, and then hit a 7 iron into a green that's right on top of a hill. And then the third - you beauty land. Not long, but wonderfully protected by bunkers. 

There's so much more to be said about this wonderful course, but that might have to wait a while. I'm back there in my head - it's a slightly gloomy afternoon, with the treat of a little rain on the back nine - and I'm now walking to the fourth......

More to follow.