No 1 – Deer Park. A true par 5 in the conditions. Bairds’ Burn on the left hand side coupled with rough trees and bunkers. So the shot is straight or up the right hand side on this right to left dog leg. Robert, a 20 handicapper, understands that and hits a very good ball, dead centre. (He only took the game up recently to give him a sport he could play with his teenage son.) I have played all my life and don’t. I pull my drive.
Amanda asks a slightly non-caddy type question. ‘Where did it go?’
I lead her to my ball which has bisected the two left hand bunkers but it is 250 to the green on a direct line which is littered with tall mature trees. I want to get her engaged.
‘What do you think caddy?’ I enquire encouragingly.
She looks at me for a minute. As if I am speaking a foreign language. ‘I thought you would just sort of hit it on!’
Her faith is in me is touching. I want to let her down gently so I explain that, although I could do, it is high risk in a damp atmosphere and so will play a 6 iron short and pitch on. Which I do. Well. Robert meantime has left the safety of the fairway and decided to attack the green from the trees, burn and rough on the left. Not a good choice. We have swooped positions. There is a lot of casual water on the green and my ball is 15 ft away from the flag and stuck in it. I move it. My caddy asks if that isn’t cheating. I give her chapter and verse on Casual Water Rule 25.1. She is apparently not aware of it. 2 putt par.
No 2 – Westward Ho’. I keep the caddy dialogue going by asking what club she thinks for this 160 yd par 3. Amanda hands me the driver. Might be a bit too much club I respond and pick out a 5 iron which I hit like a bullet. I fly the pin and only stay dry (the same burn as on the first snakes back again) because I clatter into a tree at the side of the hole. Wedge up into casual water. Again. Same debate again, same missed putt. Bogey 4.
No 3 – Abercorn. Longish par 4 back towards the clubhouse. Scratchy drive, left again but it runs round the bunker and leaves a nice firm 5 into a large looking green. Amanda tells me she will probably go after this hole. I settle down to the shot.
‘What would you like for dinner?’
I love Amanda. I love food. At virtually any other time during the three and a half hour round that would be an exciting / caring question. Not so much in the half second between transitioning from the top of my backswing and making contact with the ball. I do hit it. Just. It crawls 80 yds. I look at her. She is unaware of what has happened and smiles brightly.
‘That wasn’t very good but don’t worry you can get the next one in.’
I can only. Hit PW on but can’t save the par.
Amanda goes then. I have a great image as she walks down the 18th and looks back for a final wave. Amanda caddying for Colin Montgomery. Perfect. A golfing marriage made in.. …
That keeps me smiling all the way round.
No 4 – Death or Glory. Uphill par 5 with a blind tee shot on which there was little glory! Tugged my drive into the rough. As the ubiquitous burn runs across the fairway about 80 yds before the Green, too dangerous to go for it. 7 iron for position which I hit very well leaving an 8 iron to the pin on a banked green. Decide to aim left and cut it in. Don’t know why I try this other than stupidity as it flies dead straight into rough on a small hummock left of the flag. Can’t get up and down so a six on my card.
No 5 – Ditch. More straightforward. Short, typical parkland par 4. Slight dog leg right. Looks like a potential birdie hole, and I need one. Long drive which just runs out of fairway left, leaving a simple PW to the back left stick. Hit it too safely and it kicks even further away but I get down in two for my second par. Harder hole than I thought as the green is very cantered and in summer it will be hard to get at any pin on the left hand side.
No 6 – Burn. Long par 3 which looks even longer because of a bunker in front of the green. Intimidating. I change my mind twice on what to hit, then fatally a third time when I swing. Duff a rescue into the trap. Hit a great recovery which pitches 3 ft short but then screws back another 6 ft. Didn’t know I could do that anymore. Miss the putt.
No 7 – Mansion House. Uphill par 4 with the whole hole in sight. Inviting drive and I finally hit one. Long and dead centre. Yes! Must be 235/240 because I only have an 8 iron left which I again hit well. Unfortunately I have been duped visually. It just makes the front. Pin is still only 25 ft away but I three putt. Words can’t express!!
No 8 – Gates. A very long (in the wet conditions) par 5 I play well. 3 wood short of the burn, rescue up the left hand side and a good 7 iron on to the right hand side of the green about 20 ft away. Have to take a drop for casual water on each shot which is an illustration of how wet it is. Solid par
No-9 Avenue. Short par 4. Tee shot to a ridge which then opens up to a pitch down to a large green with the burn in front. I drive over the top and carry the bunkers leaving a half PW and a birdie opportunity. One I don’t take again. Par.
Out in 42 with 19 putts.
No 10 – Capability. Good looking par 3 from a slightly raised tee to a heavily bunkered green. Hit 6, a bit thin so although it is right at the pin it settles 20 yds short. I am aware how poorly I am putting and am determined to get the first putt up to the hole. Then equally determined to get the second putt up to the hole! Another 3 putt.
No 11 – Woodlands. The start of the hardest section on the course. 3 very tough long par 4s, made even harder by the lack of run. Hit a good ball through the narrow funnel at the tee but still have a full rescue for my second. I press too hard and foozle it 125 yds. Hit great PW to 8 ft but once again leave the putt short!!
No 12 – Village. Another uphill hole and the first view of Arthur’s Seat at 2o’ clock. Sun now out. Fantastic sight. Doesn’t inspire me however as I pull my drive into the left hand bunkers. Good lie and shallow lip which allows me to hit a really good 7 iron back into position. SW in again good. 10 ft but the string of missed putts continues.
No 13 – Temple. Back in the opposite direction. Uphill again and even better view back to Arthur’s Seat. Bunker on the right about 240 out and I play just short. Bit of an exaggeration. I hit a shot which would run into the bunker in normal conditions. Slightly blocked by trees on the right. Should have gone further left but I hit the best shot of the round so far and cut a 5 iron onto the front portion of the long green. I manage to get a putt beyond the hole, to 4 ft but miss it back.
No 14 – High and Dry. Beautiful short par 3. Tight green with the burn at the bottom and in fact the right front side of it runs directly down to it. Pin is on that side just at the top of that slope. Tell myself not to be short. Good advice!! I hit a perfect 8 iron which holds the stick all the way, pitches 4 ft away and stops first bounce. Yes. Yes. Almost a gimme. But I leave it short. This is a disease.
No 15 – Shades. Short dog leg right. I go too far left from the tee into the damp rough. Lucky. In drier conditions might have been flirting with the pond I only see when I walk up as the tee shot is semi blind. Reasonable lie. I don’t take on the pin which is guarded by a couple of bunkers but play the % shot right. Sensible. I end up 5 yds off the green and only 15 yds from the hole but after my approach putt I am still 5 yds from the pin. Don’t hole the next.
No 16 – Arthur’s Seat. Back uphill towards the crag and a green protected by two mature trees, one of which I hit with my 5 iron approach after a good drive. (The right hand one as I attempt to draw the ball to the green. ) At last get up and down. Really good lob wedge to 4 ft and actually hole a putt.
No 17 – Pond. Great view and driving hole. The sort I really like. Raised tee, looking down into a valley with banked fairway and rough on the right and the pond in the distance on the left. Fantastic view and encourages a good drive. I melt one down the right. Perfect. As is the rescue for position. 40 yds to go. Will tease a little SW in. Great birdie chance until I totally fluff the pitch and leave it 10 yds short. Three to get down from there is almost inevitable. A 6 from nowhere.
No 18 – RDBM. The second hole named in honour of Ronnie Shade. Semi blind tee shot to a raised fairway. I feel I have skied mine a bit, but when I crest the hill it is ok, reasonable distance. Best part of the hole is the view now. Clubhouse, then in the distance Craigmillar Castle . Fantastic vista and I take time to appreciate it as I think what club to hit. I am about 140 from the pin, with the burn, again, and bunkers forming a barrier at the front. The breeze has picked up and is directly against so I, mistakenly, decide I need a 5 iron. My body tells me no though as I swing which leads to a bastard hybrid half punch, half thin. Lucky to miss the water but catch the right hand bunker. I know if I don’t get up and down I will post an 85 – my worst score yet. I don’t want to do that. I have been practising my bunker play and it pays off. I come out really well to 5 ft and sink the putt!!
The course is 6247yds from the yellows but played much longer. Round in 84.
Greens in regulation 7/18 -40% poor
Fairways 10/18 – 55% just about acceptable
Putts 36 – unacceptable!
Birdies 0 pars 6 bogies 12. No d bogies but still a poorish round.