101. Forres. 21st July 2020.

This course worth playing takes the biscuit, despite the nearby witches!

Round £60. Par 70. Value (out of 5) – 4

The town of Forres sits on the mouth of the Findhorn river about 25 miles north east of Inverness; located on the main A96 Inverness to Aberdeen trunk route, this is an easily accessed course, except for the narrow lanes up to the clubhouse and car park – please don’t try and take a caravan there!

The club, formed in 1889, originally played nearer Findhorn. It moved to playing the current course site, laid out by James Braid, in 1904, and was called Muiryshade Golf Course. It was extended to 18 holes in 1912 by Willie Park, then became Forres CG when, in 1944, the land was bought and gifted to the people of Forres, by Sir Robert McVitie Grant of Logie. Sir Robert made his money by creating the McVitie Digestive biscuit, so it was fitting those that ate the biscuits ended up with the course!

The short par 4 first looking up towards the pro shop. An easy start except for the wild slice!


This is a well maintained parkland/highland course at around 6300 yards off white tees and just under 6000 yards from yellow. It is quite undulating, with a number of semi blind and narrow tee shots, especially on the front nine. The course is rather imbalanced with the front nine par of 36 and back nine of 34, but both of similar length. The course has hosted Scottish national competitions, the best measure of its all round standard.

The aesthetically pleasing par four 4th, where a good drive can set up an easy approach shot.

Playing with Fran in excellent sunny conditions the course played shorter than normal with the ball running on its hard fairways. The greens were in great condition and well watered.

There are some really nice holes on the course. The first, a very short par 4 downhill, will temp the longer hitters, but played conservatively should offer a par start even for high handicappers.

Following three further short par 4s, the par 3 fifth hole, “Wee Birkie”, is a cunning par 3, where club selection is all important – miss the green and it’s really difficult to get par – aim for the dead centre of the green here.

Views of the mouth of the river Findhorn in the background of the 9th green at Forres. The pine trees give a real highland feel to this course.

After the easier front nine, the 10th hole is a long par 3, with deep slopes to the right of the green and trees to the left and starts the toughest stretch of the course through to the par 4 15th hole. To do well overall, playing bogie golf through this stretch is good for all other than the single figure players. The signature par 4 16th hole, looks more difficult than it is – a decent 200 yard drive takes you to safe territory, leaving a short approach.

The signature view at Forres from the 16th ‘Pond’ tee – a dangerous card wrecker – but a good drive leaves a short approach

This course was actually the site of one of my best competitive rounds ever more than 25 years ago – an 80 in an RAF Scotland golf competition, including being level par for the front 9. It was very fitting therefore that I shot my best round in a long while – an 84, despite hitting my first shot out of bounds!

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the title – the course sits on a wood reputed to be where ‘the three witches’ from Shakespeare’s Macbeth lived – the 7th hole aptly called “Witch Tree”!

Facts:

Course Type: Highland/Heathland

Par 70 (2 par 5s, 12 par 4s, 4 par 3s)

Distance: 5906

Moly’s Gross score84

Moly’s best for a while, gross 84, on a track with fond scoring memories
Posted in 18 holes, 1901 - 1945, 4 star, 4 star, Course Architech, Course Owned By, Course Quality, Course Type, Highland, Holes, James Braid, Members, Overall Value, Price, Region, The Highlands, Uncategorized, Willie Park, £60 - £79 | Comments Off on 101. Forres. 21st July 2020.

100. Roxburghe. 1st Feb 2020.

Well worth a detour to play this very well designed course

Round £60. Par 72. Value (out of 5) – 4.5

Hotel Schloss Roxburghe, operated by the Berlin based 18.12 Group, is not far from Kelso in the Scottish Borders. It was formerly owned as a hotel by the Duke of Roxburghe, one of the wealthiest UK landowners. The golf course, on the hotel grounds, is called Schloss Roxburghe Golf and it was opened in 1997; at over 7100 yards from the championship blue tees, it was clearly designed by Dave Thomas (1934 – 2013) with the intention of hosting professional tournaments.

Moly driving at the signature “Viaduct” 14th hole at ‘The Roxburghe’

With top quality hotel facilities, this is a great short golfing break destination, but with limited high quality golf in the area, 1 or 2 nights is more than enough for just golf.

Playing in a strong wind on a chilly 1st February, the course was, not surprisingly, very quiet! Even from the yellow tees, it was well over 6500 yards, and I struggled to a 103 despite having been only 2 over after 5 holes! This poor display was not helped by me trying to carry my own clubs.

The aesthetic par 4 2nd tee, either a straight forward slight dog leg left, or the direct “tiger line” across the tree line. A typically good Dave Thomas hole.

Although not scoring well, it was very enjoyable due to the great design; Thomas’ philosophy states “I believe all golfers must be presented with a visual challenge and the opportunity to determine a strategy for playing the course depending upon individual ability.” There were indeed many holes very pleasing on the eye.

The magnificent 11th, with superbly placed bunkers for the stronger player.

Furthermore, with front and back nines each with two par 3s and two par 5s, this classic layout had great variety from hole to hole. Throw in the superb bunkering, nice use of water hazards, sculped with mature trees, all in all this was great golfing value. Indeed, with offers available on golfnow.com this represents some of the best golfing value around.

The 13th at The Roxburghe, the longest of the 4 par 3s, take 2 more clubs than you think to clear the water with a long green to receive it.

The course was in very good condition, especially for an early February day. The greens were fully playable with no winter greens in sight, a great testimony to the build quality and the greenkeeping.

The approach to the par 4 17th hole, with very reasonably priced houses overlooking the course.

The are many great holes at The Roxburgh. Although the 14th “viaduct” hole gains all the plaudits that’s only really for the view. The 10th, stoke index 1, is a magnificent dog leg right par 4, and the run of holes from 10th through 14th, encapsulate the variety and strength of Thomas’ design.

I would strongly recommend a short break at Schloss Roxburgh, but I would suggest to play it twice, it was just one of those courses that you need to play more than once to fully appreciate I guess. It was a nice way to bring up my 100th blog on my journey.

Facts:

Course Type: Parkland

Par 72 (4 par 5, 10 par 4s, 4 par 3s)

Distance: 6546

Moly’s Gross score103

Moly’s scorecard, 103, which was a struggle in high winds.
Posted in 18 holes, 1946 - 1999, 4 star, 4 star, Commercial, Course Architech, Course Owned By, Course Quality, Course Type, Dave Thomas, Holes, Overall Value, Parkland, Price, Region, The Scottish Borders, When Course Established, £60 - £79 | Comments Off on 100. Roxburghe. 1st Feb 2020.

99. Royal Musselburgh. 26th July 2019.

This ‘Royal’ 6th oldest club in the world is a bit like playing ‘Trigger’s broom’

Round £65. Par 70. Value (out of 5) – 2.5

When reading the history of the Royal Musselburgh GC on its website here I couldn’t help being reminded of the classic comedy sketch below….

This ‘Only Fools and Horses’ sketch came to mind whilst researching Royal Musselburgh GC

….don’t confuse the pedigree of the Golf Club, ‘founded’ in 1774 , with the pedigree of the Golf Course, which is much less prestigious, in my opinion. When you play Royal Musselburgh you’re actually playing a course opened only in 1925; although a pretty good course, it’s on a flat piece of land and it’s over-priced for the course quality, the price undoubtedly influenced by the ‘Royal’ patronage and the Golf Club heritage. In fact, the first 150 years of the history of ‘Royal Musselburgh’ is related to play at Musselburgh Links at the racecourse! Hence the comparison with Trigger’s ’20 year old’ broom! Please forgive my imagination.

The par 4 third hole at Royal Musselburgh, a typical hole on this flat track.

Musselburgh is the largest of the towns in East Lothian, situated on the coast about 5 miles from Edinburgh and close to the start of the great North Berwick coastal run of courses which includes Muirfield. There are actually three ‘Musselburgh’ courses: ‘Musselburgh Links’, which is in Musselburgh and recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest course in the world; plain old ‘Musselburgh’, which is actually in Monktonhall; and ‘Royal Musselburgh’, the subject here, somewhat nearer to Prestonpans than Musselburgh! I blogged about Musselburgh here and Musselburgh Links here.

The 6th hole at Royal Musselburgh, one of only 3 par threes on the course.

Although only open since 1925, the course does owe its design to the great James Braid, albeit I couldn’t help thinking that the remit was to make a challenging, but not too challenging a course. It is set on ground leased from the Prestongrange Estate, and its clubhouse is within part of Prestongrange House, which is an impressive building from the outside. The fairways are quite wide and the rough under the trees was cut short allowing balls to be easily found. It’s not surprising that Royal Musselburgh is attractive to society or group visits.

The 14th,the shortest of the par 3s, where club selection is crucial at this, “The Gulley”, hole.

The course has only three par 3s and one par 5, and with several similar par 4s, it was a little repetitive, for my liking. It was though in very nice condition when I played and the greens were very true. I actually played the best of the season, scoring 87 for 36 points, including a birdie at the stoke index 3, par 4 15th hole, including hitting one of my longest drives for years – it was the first time I’d played with my new fitted driver and the technology has helped!

The tough 18th hole at Royal Musselburgh, with a well protected green, with views of Prestongrange House to the right of the hole.

My advice would be it’s a nice course to play if you can get a good discount, otherwise play the two other Musselburgh courses, which have much more to offer, by way of both history (The Links) and quality.

Facts:

Course Type: Parkland

Par 70 (1 par 5, 14 par 4s, 3 par 3s)

Distance: 5880

Moly’s Gross score87

Moly’s scorecard of 87, best score all year made possible by first new driver bought for years.
Posted in 18 holes, 1901 - 1945, 2.5 star, 3 star, Course Architech, Course Owned By, Course Quality, Course Type, Edinburgh & The Lothians, Holes, James Braid, Overall Value, Parkland, Price, Private, Region, When Course Established, £60 - £79 | Comments Off on 99. Royal Musselburgh. 26th July 2019.

98. Piperdam New. 12th July 2019.

Great value course close to Dundee well worth playing

Round £30.   Par 71.  Value (out of 5) – 4.5

Opened in 1997, the main golf course at the Piperdam Leisure estate is 8 miles to the east of Dundee on the A923. Originally called Piperdam Osprey, because Ospreys nest around the fishing lake that is the centrepiece of the estate, the course was upgraded in 2014 and renamed Piperdam New.

The beautiful par 3 9th hole at Piperdam New

This is a really great value course at only £30 for a midweek round, with offers of further discounts available through web sites such as GolfNow. Fran and I paid only £15 each, and therein lies the great challenge for golf clubs in Scotland – why pay a membership of £700+ when great value golf is readily available at such prices and freely accessible. Whilst the golfers retired from work may play 2 or which should go from strength to strength following the very sad closure of the nearby Camperdown Park course in 2020.3 times every week (and these members are invariably and understandably the people running the committees), how many working age people play more than 40 times a year? Piperdam pricing offers a great model of what I think courses in Scotland should compete with. The course should go from strength to strength following the very sad closure of the nearby Camperdown Park course in 2020.

The long par 4 7th hole at Piperdam, a good drive to the right of center is needed to give a good chance of reaching the green at this SI 3 hole

As a leisure complex, catering for holidays, weddings, etc, the facilities are also excellent for traveling golfers – little wonder its very popular with Societies. It also has a strong 9 hole course as well which I played and blogged in 2013 here .

Another great thing about Piperdam, is the number of tee options which visitors are welcome to play off whichever they feel capable of – I played the blue tees making the course 5800 years long, but given that it was very wet when I played that was long enough for me.

The Par 5 8th hole, with water all down the right of the hole – part of the strongest run of holes at Piperdam New

The course is set around the large fishing lake, which comes into play on several holes, and with the reeds and grasses it makes for an aesthetic walk even if your golf isn’t what you would like – perhaps pop the binoculars in the bag as the bird life is abundant here.

After the fairly short par 3 opening hole with a 125 yard water carry, the tough par 5 2nd needs to be played with a 3 shot strategy, then the 3rd hole is a very difficult Stroke Index 1 par 4. In other words you need to focus from the very first shot.

1st green at Piperdam New, a short par 3, over water – never a nice way to open the round

Some of the holes were very strong, and the run of 3 holes Numbers 7 through 9, comprising a long par 4, a long par 5 and an excellent mid to long iron par 3 over water, would not be out of place on much higher rated courses. I suspect being part of a commercial leisure complex in some way diminishes the perception of the quality of Piperdam New.

The course was in excellent condition when we played, with lush fairways, well maintained bunkers and very true greens.

On the day I played well, shooting 92 for 32 points, helped by my back 9 of only 7 over. This is probably a typical scoring pattern here, given the very tough opening and closing 3 holes of the front 9. Moral is “keep going at Piperdam” you rewards will come.

With a good drive this is a birdie opportunity hole. Typically aesthetic hole at Piperdam.

A really great value course.

Facts:

Course Type: Parkland

Par 71 (4 par 5, 9 par 4s, 5 par 3s)

Distance: 5818

Moly’s Gross score92

Moly’s Piperdam New Scorecard – Solid 92 in the wet conditions
Posted in 18 holes, 1946 - 1999, 4 star, 4 star, Commercial, Course Architech, Course Owned By, Course Quality, Course Type, Dundee & Angus, Holes, Overall Value, Parkland, Price, Region, Unknown, When Course Established, £20 - £39 | Comments Off on 98. Piperdam New. 12th July 2019.