Loch Lomond Review
Post by Golf Blogger Martin Tighe
Golf blogger Martin Tighe recently got the opportunity to play Loch Lomond which is on many a golfers bucket list. Find out what he thought and what you can expect if you ever get the opportunity to play.
My only previous visit to Loch Lomond golf course was in 2008. I was there on the final day of the Scottish Open and I watched many of the worlds top players weave their way around the 18 holes. The weather that day was stunning. Everyone was baked in sunshine and my lasting memory will always be Graeme McDowell making his way up the last to clinch the title with scores of boats, packed with people, anchored in the Loch at the side of the fairway. A truly magical sight.
Fast forward to August, 2016 and as fate would have it, the weather that morning was exactly the same as it was in 2008. There was a very slight breeze, just enough to blow your hair, and the sun was beating down as we approached the main gate. We were met at the closed gates by a gentleman resplendent in tartan trews. His welcome was warm as he verified our details and confirmed our host for the day. We then drove on a meandering narrow road that swung past the 17th hole where we then saw the course appear from between the trees. A little further along and we caught our first glimpse of the magnificent Rossdhu House, the course’s clubhouse. We drove to the front of the house where a member of staff welcomed us before emptying the boot of our clubs and gear. We were taken to an outdoor patio area at the back of the bar where we met our host for the day.
Before teeing off we were given a brief guided tour of the clubhouse before being allocated a locker for the day. Once changed we headed to the course to collect our clubs that had been taken directly to the starters hut at the first tee. It was only a short walk to the practice area after collecting our clubs. Pyramids of Titleist Pro v1’s were waiting for us and it seemed that we were the first people on the practice range that morning. In fact, as I looked around taking in what I could see of the course, it appeared that we were the only people playing that morning such was the vastness of the course. I tried to calm myself down as I battered through the range balls, praying that I could find a good enough swing for my first drive.
Loosened off, I walked onto the first tee and with a sharp intake of breath, I let my driver swing praying that I made a clean contact. Walking up to play my second shot I caught my first proper sight of Loch Lomond which lay in the distance behind the first green. It was breathtaking, and to be honest, the view took my mind off the matter in hand.
The first eight holes at Loch Lomond are set out close to the banks of the water. The fairways were in magnificent order. There are well positioned hazards in the form of vast bunkers, ditches and water hazards, but the fairways are wide. That being said, there are plenty of high rises and run off areas to take your ball into a troublesome position. The greens were a joy to putt on. They were quick enough for a player of my ability (I play off nine) and they ran perfectly true, as you would expect.
The front nine’s standout holes are the two par 5’s. The first of these being the 3rd hole which is slightly downhill with a dog-leg to the left. The fairway is set within a tree lined corridor and the green is perched at the edge of the Loch itself, protected in front by a burn that worms its way across the fairway gathering any trundling approach shots. Standing on the green you could see the odd boat cruising up and down, overlooked by Ben Lomond in the near distance. There wasn't a break in the water.
The views over the Loch continued at the par 3 5th. A stunning hole where you play downhill to the green which seems to hover on the water.
6th Hole at Loch Lomond
The 6th, the second par 5, runs along the shore of the water. With dense trees to the left and water to the right, it makes for an intimidating tee shot. The green has a steep climb at the front and falls away at the back. Not an easy target and close to the water as well. How close? Well, our host pointed out that a number of years ago a speed boat ran aground from the Loch and ended up on the front right edge of the green. That’s how close.
The par 3 8th hole provided us the chance to order drinks from the clubhouse by using a telephone that was embedded in a tree next to the tee. It was certainly a neat piece of woodwork.
The back nine offers a different view of the areas stunning surroundings. The Arrochar Alps to the right, are in view from almost any spot on the fairway and with the sky being cloudless, you could see as far as the eye would let you. The par 4 10th, par 3 11th and par 5 13th, provide great challenges.
The 14th, the short par 4, gives you the option to aim straight for the green or lay up to the left. Needless to say I had a go for the green which failed miserably.
The par 3 17th, curves around the Loch with more views of the hills in the distance, however, it’s hard not to be distracted by the sight of the 18th hole which can be seen just across the water.
The round culminates at the outstanding 18th. Standing on the tee you are met with an incredible scene. Loch Lomond to the left (minus the flotilla of boats from 2008) and the ruins of Rossdhu Castle behind the green. The hole has a generously wide fairway, although two bunkers to the right catch your eye. Any second shot making it onto the green does so against the amazing backdrop of the castle ruins.
The course at Loch Lomond is the finest I have played. Not only because of the layout and condition, but the pleasant staff who couldn't do enough for you. The weather was perfect for the round and all these combined made it the most memorable golfing experience of my life.
To read from Martin visit his blog Tighe on Tour via www.tigheonthetour.wordpress.com
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