Think Before You Hit

To Dumfries and Galloway on Scotland’s south west coast for the first golfing trip of the year. Another area of Scotland where golf courses abound, our choice for the one day of proper “competition” was an emotional one.

I’ve been playing Colvend Golf Club for as long as I can remember. Back in the day, brother and I would scamper round the course with our cut down clubs learning the game and discovering what playing in real wind is all about.

Like us the course has grown since then. The original nine holes have now be expanded into an 18 hole layout.

The expansion means the first eight holes play very differently to holes nine to 17. On the first eight the wind is your main enemy. Clinging to the coast the wind comes in more varieties than I can describe. This is the short part of the course and the three par threes give you the chance to build a solid card.

Keeping the ball low helps of course : as I found out to my benefit on the seventh when a horribly topped iron shot bounded down the fairway, kept going on to the green and ended up a couple of feet from the hole to secure a birdie.

The eighth is Colvend’s signature par three. A long carry over a burn to narrow green with out of bounds all around, the daunting tee shot will play mind games with a lot of golfers and it is not uncommon to see players laying up. Thankfully in both the morning and afternoon rounds I managed to guide a three iron to the centre of the green and happily took my two putts for par.

Crossing the road to reach the ninth hole you are presented with a new set of challenges. The holes are longer and the wind is less of a factor. The ninth and tenth are fairly simple par fours, the eleventh a gorgeous dog leg played to a green guarded by the ruins of an old house – the hole is called The Ruin.

The 12th is another gorgeous hole and brings water into play with both the drive and the approach shot (18 holes at Colvend without getting your feet wet is no little achievement) and the 13th is one of those curious par fours that always seems to play longer than it is.

Then comes the 14th, which I would argue is my only bugbear about the course: at over 500 yards the longest hole and the only par 5. The day we played the weather was fine. Sure it was windy on the first eight but you expect that when you play golf on a clifftop. The wind wasn’t an issue anywhere across the road except the 14th.

Unfortunately in both the morning and the afternoon the wind was in our faces. With the course still wet from a sodden winter, the 14th became an immovable object. We’re probably fairly average off the tee and can both hit reasonable fairway woods. Don’t mind doing that either. But when those two shots leave you with a long iron to the green, some of the fun goes out of the game. Both times we walked off the green happy with bogeys and feeling like we had been the victims of a “Tiger proofing.” I’m not convinced the average golfer really wants non championship courses to get longer and longer, But that’s maybe just me.

After that the course moves back to the road culminating in an intriguing 17th where the blind tee shot, if well executed, leaves a simple chip to the green. The very brave might even be tempted to carry the out of bounds and play for an eagle opportunity.

Crossing back over the road Colvend finishes with a fine 18th. A simple enough drive will set up a short approach to a green guarded by trees, out of bounds and water. A badly positioned drive will seriously cut down your options with your second shot and many players will happily sign off with a par.

The 18th neatly sums up Colvend’s finest qualities. The holes may look simple but the real challenge is thinking through every shot to try and take the pressure off your next stroke. This is a real thinking course.

Colvend is well worth a visit. At £30 a day ticket represents excellent value. The staff made us feel very welcome and we enjoyed a pleasant snack in the clubhouse between rounds. We will definitely be back, if only so my brother can have another go at the three shot lead I built up in the morning and managed, just, to hold on to in the afternoon.

As we’re in the area I should also mention Craigieknowes, a short par three course just along the road from Colvend outside a beautiful little village called Kippford. The longest hole is 197 yards, the shortest around 90 yards. This is a perfect family course but, be warned, the imaginative layout and well guarded greens can make for a tricky round. I played 18 holes on two separate days and thoroughly enjoyed them both.

One Response to “Think Before You Hit”

  1. […] You can read my review of Colvend Golf Club over at the Golf Swing Secrets Revealed blog. […]

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