Crieff Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Rob Treanor, August 2019
Perthshire's Crieff Golf Club featured in the Golfshake's Rising Stars in Scotland, having received excellent recent feedback from independent member reviews. Ambassador Rob Treanor made the journey to “the Gateway to the Highlands” to experience the Highly Recommended Ferntower Course.
Away from the hustle and bustle and city life, lies the pretty Scottish town of Crieff. The town has long been a holiday destination for those from the British Isles and beyond, and with the beautiful backdrop of Highland Perthshire, it is easy to see why. Crieff Golf Club opened in 1891 when Old Tom Morris laid out the original 9 holes. These were subsequently expanded by James Braid and today the club is home to the 18-hole Ferntower as well as a 9 hole short course; the Dornock.
Scenery in this part of Scotland is dramatic by default. The wonderful parkland venue is surrounded by pine forests, stunning valleys and the Highlands beyond, making it a real sanctuary. Wildlife thrives as do the lush fairways and mature pine trees which define the holes. A traditional members club, the venue is very accommodating to visiting guests as is typical in this friendly corner of the world.
Front 9 Overview
Quirkily starting with a par three and then an observation mirror on the tee box at the 2nd, momentum starts to build at the 3rd. It is clear from an early stage that this will be an intriguing and interesting round, with an early challenge finding a flat lie on this mid-length par four on which the fairway slopes theatrically from left to right. Both blows towards the green therefore need to be aimed off sufficiently left to allow for the run of the slope and the ball position below the feet. The fairway narrows significantly around 200 yards from the tee meaning club choice may not be as straightforward as it first seems. A runoff at the front and light bunkering either side defends the pretty green. There is much more to think about here than just whacking a ball!
The 4th is a super par three which is played uphill semi blind to a small green. The angle is such that the flag may be completely out of view, though the tall pines which frame the back of the green serve as excellent aiming posts; just remember to pick one when exiting the previous green! At only 124 yards, “Wee Knock” also features some wonderfully sculpted mounds which when paired with solid bunkering, mean the front of the green is well guarded. This James Braid classic has enough to keep you thinking all day!
Back 9 Overview
The 11th is a great strategic challenge. The hole plays from low ground and gradually winds left and creeps up the hill. The tee shot needs to favour the right so as not to be blocked out by the beautiful mature trees. The second shot is played blind uphill to a long, two tiered green which features some very tasty putts indeed! The wonderful tall pine trees which frame the green make choosing a line relatively simple, though judging the correct distance to find the right portion of the green is definitely not as straightforward!
The Ferntower really makes the most of the natural landscape and surroundings. The 14th is a short par four from which the drive is struck through a thin section of tees to an expansive fairway which slopes from right to left. The green is cut into the hill and has a large drop-off to the left which is definitely not the place to be! A very, very pretty hole, the slope of the fairway should support a gentle draw into the waiting green. A very good challenge, this hole would not look out of place at many of the UK’s top venues.
Crieff is a picturesque and tranquil course which has an excellent blend of enjoyable holes. The sloping fairways and elevation changes provoke thought with the layout providing a rewarding experience. The course is designed to deliver entertainment and fun, lest we forget that golf is a recreational activity and not a chore!
The impact of legendary architects such as Old Tom Morris and James Braid is still evident today on some lovely holes, though many from that original layout are now part of the shorter course, which is also worth experiencing. The club is extremely welcoming to visiting golfers and given its location a stone’s throw from the centre of the town itself, Crieff provides an excellent option as part of an activity trip with the family.
Crieff is a club I would love to visit again. Any course featuring holes designed by Old Tom Morris and James Braid will always feature highly in my must play list. Couple these early influences with the lush green parkland setting and stunning scenery, makes Crieff a wonderful destination indeed.
Overall Rating - 8
Course (Conditions) - 8
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 8
Course (Green Condition) - 8
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 7
Practice Facilities - 7
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 10
Value for Money - 10
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