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Sean_A

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GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE
« on: June 29, 2016, 10:47:37 AM »




Like Dornoch, the residents of Elie and Earlsferry are keen golfers with a large percentage belonging to one of three clubs which play over the Elie Links.  Born in Earlsferry, it is somehow appropriate that the great James Braid was never a member of the Golf House Club nor was his father a golfer.  Indeed, when Braid joined the primarily artisan Earlsferry Thistle GC at the age of 15 the GHC was less than ten years old, but still the senior club.  It is telling that within one year Braid would become a scratch player despite what he describes as “nothing more or less than disgraceful” putting.

The history of Elie Links stretches back to at least 1770 and it is likely some form of the game was played as far back as 1589 when a royal charter gave permission for villagers to play over the links.   There is evidence of the existence of the Earlsferry Golf Society dating back to 1787.  It is likely the club dissolved when a tenant of the Laird ploughed the land for farming.  When the Earlsferry & Elie GC was formed in 1831 it was after a 20 year battle with the local Laird to obtain golfing rights guaranteed by royal charter.  The club didn’t have a house and instead used George Forrester’s shed (one of three club-makers in Elie with sheds) which would have been located in today’s parking lot.  The Golfer’s Tavern, now called the 19th Hole, and on the left of the 4th fairway is where members took hospitality.  I expect many golfers still frequent the pub! 

Similar to the West Links of North Berwick, Elie grew in stages when land became available.  The course on which Braid learned his trade was far different from today.  By the time Braid joined the Thistle in 1891 the links was extended to 11 holes and altered to fourteen holes.  Eventually, the course was extended again to 18 holes in 1895 with the help of Old Tom Morris (who else?).  It is thought these four holes could be 7, 8, 9 and 17.  Braid added his touches during subsequent visits and it would seem 1-3 and 18, all on the house side of Ferry Road, are the work of Braid.  This then leaves the land which runs to the sea as the section of the property which would have been the links Braid knew as a boy.   It is thought George Roland, father of Douglas and uncle of Old Tom, was the original designer of these holes in 1858. 



A round at Elie cannot commence without mentioning or using the famous periscope.  A member salvaged the periscope from the HMS Excalibur (above) when it was scrapped in 1965 after only eleven years of experimental service.  The concept of high test peroxide (HTP) powered submarines proved to be a failure and when the US Navy was successful in developing a nuclear reactor suitable for submarines the HTP experiment was halted.  The home of the periscope was near the first tee for many years and since 2014 it has been housed in the newly constructed professional shop. Golfers are welcome to take a peek; however, it is the pro who signals “play away” after a quick look. 




The visual aid is worth while using because the first is a blind drive over a 25ish foot rise....which used to have a centreline bunker in its face.  Many is the golfer who must leak a weak drive right over the ever so close boundary wall.  Being the highest point of the course the second is named High Hole.  This short two-shotter features a sky-line green that runs rather alarmingly away from play.


Elie's par 3s couldn't be any different; one is lengthy and visually expansive, I can imagine driver being the club selection on many occassions (I hit driver during the second round) and one is quite short and blind.  On this day, the 214 yard third played nearly as long as the 284 yard uphill 2nd!   


A look at the green from 18 tee.


Elie and Earlsferry are cheek by jowel towns. Below is a look at Earlsferry. The Thistle house is down the left near the 18th tee.


The land (4-17) on the other side of Ferry Road is more genuine links.  The recently refurbished and golf themed 19th Hole is just past the Thistle on Links Road.




Being so near the footsteps of James Braid it is impossible to resist a short detour.  If we head down Ferry and make a right, the spire of Town Hall soars above all else.  The people of Earlsferry are very proud of their native son.  A plaque commemorating James Braid is immediately left of the door.


Just down the road is the site of James Braid's early life home. 


Heading back up Ferry we find the 4th tee on the left.  Elie's start makes it an easy course to warm to, but the 4th gave me reason to believe this could be a very special course. 






More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 05:33:29 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

PPallotta

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-4
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2016, 11:00:16 AM »
A new rule of thumb for me: if the tallest structure in town is still the church steeple, the adjacent golf course is sure to be a top flight charmer.

Thomas Dai

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-4
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2016, 11:56:02 AM »
The spine along the 4th inc through the green looks terrific. Looking forward to seeing more.
Atb

Mark Pritchett

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-4
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2016, 12:16:42 PM »
Sean, great post.  Looking forward to more!

Marty Bonnar

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-4
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2016, 12:39:42 PM »
The 4th is a scorching good hole. Did that rain arrive?!?!?!

F.
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

Jon Wiggett

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-4
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2016, 06:41:28 PM »
My word Sean, you have been busy. Elie is a great course full of character and charm much like other member's courses such as Kilspindie. It is a shame many visitors miss such courses in favour of the bigger names.


Jon
« Last Edit: June 30, 2016, 09:37:33 AM by Jon Wiggett »

Niall C

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-4
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2016, 05:41:08 AM »
Sean


Great stuff, looking forward to the rest of the tour. As per Martins comment, you must have been a bit nervous looking out to sea. Isn't Scotland wonderful in summer  ;D


Niall

Sean_A

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-8
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2016, 03:50:18 AM »
FBD

That rain missed us and I expect hit some worthy Scots  8)

Pietro

Interesting...I have long lived by the rule that if the tallest structure in town is the church steeple then the chances the town is worth seeing are pretty high. 

ELIE Tour Cont.

Apparently, many members work in the medical field.  A proper tee marker which triples as a bag stand and rubbish bin. 


The fifth is the second of six par 4s under 310 yards.  The set isn't as crafty as Lundin's, but all have at least one element of interest.   The 5th legs just enough left to make the right fairway bunker troublesome.  There is another greenside bunker left under the fold of a slope.  These two pits must see their fair share of play and then some. 



The green looks like one of about 9 which slope away from play, but in truth its a well disguised mini-punchbowl.  Putting back to the hole is deceptively uphill. 


It seems like there are as many blind drives as front to back greens, but the 6th is one of only five.  Over the brow of the hill is a nest of pots which needn't be the end of the world because recovery down the slope to the green isn't all that difficult...its two putting which is the real challenge.  Perhaps the third most interesting aspect of the view over the brow of the hill is the lack of dunes.  Much of the links is encompassed in a broad amphitheatre sloping down to the sea.






The 7th heads straight back up the hill, but before we do, consider the name of the hole; Peggy's.  Apparently, an auld crone used to hang her washing line in this area.  I don't know Scottish as well as I might, but this description of the woman brings a smile to my face....talk about telling it like it is!  Even into a decent breeze this 241 yarder can be reached.  It pays to take a good look at where the hole is located while playing the 6th. 


Behind the green.


The modest length 8th can play quite long or quite short.  I did notice that many of the doglegs have scant space to hit driver when downwind.  Many is the time drives down the fairway ran into rough at the turn.   Luckily, the rough on the 8th was merciful.  Play is from left of the photo over the road.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 05:34:21 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Sean_A

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-8
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2016, 03:51:39 AM »
delete
« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 04:02:57 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-8
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2016, 06:51:08 AM »
I recall the times when just about every course had these little boxes normally sitting on the ground at every tee - usually filled with sand - and lots of cigarette butts! Concrete pyramids painted in different colours with hole No, yardages, SI, par, sometimes even bogey, were also the norm.

5th, the second of six par-4's under 310 yrs......"5th 365 yds Doctor"?
atb

Mark Pearce

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-8
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2016, 07:07:57 AM »
I recall the times when just about every course had these little boxes normally sitting on the ground at every tee - usually filled with sand - and lots of cigarette butts! Concrete pyramids painted in different colours with hole No, yardages, SI, par, sometimes even bogey, were also the norm.

5th, the second of six par-4's under 310 yrs......"5th 365 yds Doctor"?
atb
The 5th is one of a few holes that play very differently from the yellow and white tees.  It seems Sean is describing the course from the yellow tees, which is great fun.  The 5th is a short, almost driveable par4 from the yellow tees.  At 365 from the white tees it is still a short par 4 but few are driving it.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Tyler Page

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-8
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2016, 09:30:52 AM »
Sean,

These pics are fantastic. That dramatic shot from the third tee box is some of your best work--everything fantastic about a round of links golf in Scotland!  Makes me want to go back.

Elie is one of my very favorites.

Dave McCollum

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-8
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2016, 04:51:53 PM »
When I was doing my homework for my 2007 trip to Scotland, two of the architectural features that intrigued me were the cross over at 7 and 11 on TOC and the routing at Elie--16 par fours and 2 par threes.  I was curious to see how that worked.  However, when I played the courses, I got so absorbed in the golf, I barely noticed.  I scouted out Elie, Luddin, Leven, and Crail as "jet lag" courses for when I picked up friends in Edinburgh after a red-eye from the States.  I picked Elie from the drive-bys.  My idiot friends, however, connected through Heathrow where their golf clubs and luggage were lost.  We worked in this fun little course later in the week and were most pleased that we did.       

Bill_McBride

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-4
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2016, 07:50:06 PM »
The spine along the 4th inc through the green looks terrific. Looking forward to seeing more.
Atb


We have that very same feature on our 300 yard par 4 at Pensacola CC.   Great design element that is so fun. 

Bill_McBride

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-8
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2016, 07:55:22 PM »
The very short par 4 seventh should be called "Self Affirming."   I have played it twice from 256 yards, blind over the marker pole, and driven the green both times.   I love Elie.  ❤️❤️

Sean_A

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE
« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2016, 06:05:14 AM »
I honestly don't know what yardage we played.  We were told to play the boxes so we did.  The right hand bunker on 5 was reachable on the first day, but was only a dream to achieve that on the second day.  The wind kicked up considerably to 17-20ish mph. I hit a great driver on 3, a downhill 210ish par 3. 

ELIE Tour Cont.

Elie has a handful of holes where the tee shot doesn't look like its up to anything much....the 9th is one such hole.  From the tee all that is really discernable is the hole bends right and its a loooong way.  This is a great example of what is normally called a second shot hole.  Yes, the second shot is exciting because the green is hidden beyond a drop in the fairway, but to get the good angle in one should be left off the tee...where the rough is some of the worst on the links. The photo below offers a glimpse of what awaits when trying to approach from the right.


Even with the flattening effect of photos it is quite clear the slope down the green is severe.




An up n' oer short par 4, the 10th could be one of those holes that technology has improved.  The Firth of Forth lies directly behind the green and is comfortably in play when the hole plays downwind.   


The downhill nature of the approach is quite severe.


View from 10th fairway.


I have heard it suggested that the 11th is a bit of a filler hole to get to the 12th tee....I strongly disagree.  I won't say the hole is great, but it is very good and simply so. With the quality of the two short holes being so high it is a shame more weren't built.


Yes, another front to back sloping green.


For many, the 12th is the signature hole because of its setting.  The tempting drive hard on the beach is great, but I was less enamoured with the approach.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 05:35:15 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Tim Gallant

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-12
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2016, 06:27:37 AM »
Sean,


Thank you for sharing. Elie is one of my absolute favourites, but it has been years since I have played there, and I seem to have forgotten some of the holes and greens. Your photo tour has me ready to go back as soon as possible!


Side note: I won't name the member, but when I first played there, an older GCH gentleman told me how, as a kid, he used to hide behind a bush on the 10th and wait for balls to come over the hill. He would then sprint, put the ball in the hole, and run back and watch the scene unfold under fits of laughter. I wonder how many members thought they had a hole in one on a par-4...

PPallotta

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-12
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2016, 08:07:58 PM »
Thanks for 'pinning' this thread, Ran.

Someone help me out: even though I love reading and writing, I realized years ago that I don't have a very large vocabulary (a result perhaps of English being my second language, one we didn't speak at home when I was young). So can someone provide a word, a single word, that best captures/describes what seems to be the absolute "rightness" of a course like Elie. None of the words I can think of -- modest, charming, understated, homely -- does justice to what my eyes see and my heart feels when I go through this thread.

We often profile here the truly top notch/world class golf courses, of all types: from the Bandon courses to Fishers Island, from those of the Australian sandbelt to the Scottish links, from Prairie Dunes to Garden City.  But Sean's courses in general, and a course like Elie in particular, while they might not be 9s or 10s or even 8s, seem to define and embody "golf" in such a sublime and perfect way -- but in a way I can't put my finger on.

Is there a word that captures this?

Thanks. And please excuse this side-track; I wanted to ask without starting another thread.     

Peter 


Sean_A

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE 1-12
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2016, 05:41:29 AM »
Pietro

Maybe a word doesn't capture the essence of your feelings....?

ELIE Tour Cont.

The visit to the coast is short and sweet and the final hole in this sequence is the best.  Winding adroitly along the beach, the 13th requires a bit more mettle as the green sits on a shelf well above the fairway. 






It is possible to use the hill as a kick back, but the grass is not cut short so the approach must be quite forceful to pull off this ploy.  This photo also shows an extreme right side of the plateau which is cut at collar length rather than green. I wonder why as a hole location here would be superb.


We now head away from the sea and the most thrilling part of the links.  It is fair to say the final five holes don't have the same cheerful playfullness of the previous holes.  Once on the 14th tee the mass of bunkers almost seems shocking.  Playing the course twice with wind in opposite directions I never got the impression that Elie has many bunkers.  I don't know why this is the case because the links has a very healthy scattering of 84 pits.   My theory is the bunkers are evenly spread for all classes of golfers. Regardless, the 14th offers an excellent drive between stakes and sand.  I wish the fairway crowded the OOB, thus signaling this is a viable driving line.


The short two-shotter up an oer' 15th is an example of the hole type which is probably a bit too forgiving.  As on the 6th a few bunkers down the middle of the park would liven up the hole.  The final three holes head for the house with the 16th being of the tough uphill variety with a fairly narrow fairway.  The penultimate hole too is tough because of its 430+ yards.


Rather shorter, Home features a large green (which at one time was squared off) with an interesting false front lion's mouth...a very shrewd design.  With a decent head or tail wind it is difficult to persuade oneself to hit the approach far enough to cover the false front yet not so aggressive as to wind up in the car park.  There are also a few well placed bunkers around the 290ish mark to thwart the long ball.  Incidentally, the fairway used to be far wider, spreading right where there was another bunker level with the current two.


Elie took me by surprise as I knew very little about this links prior to my visit...which may be more of a suprise because this course deserves far more ink.  It has everything a person could wish for in a links except for dunes!  Elie has long holes, short holes, blind holes, all to see holes, tricky holes, holes of character, easy holes, tough holes, GREAT GREENS, lovely scenery, an obvious seaside character, an enchanting house and an excellent location not far from St Andrews or Edinburgh.  Among a collection of very good holes it is hard to point to many (though the 9th is one I would pick as outstanding) which are true standouts for Scotland and this may ultimately be the reason why Elie isn't talked about more.  However, the sum is greater than Elie's considerable parts.  The total yardage may suggest Elie is a holiday course, but with a hardened breeze this links will require all the grit and determination of all but the best players.  And yet, many an elder soul can quite happily meander the links without a care in the world.  1*  2019 

As fine a course as Elie is, the town is very attractive in that very little commercialization has taken place.  Elie is especially worth a look if only for its wonderful harbour where cricket is played at low tide!


Ran's Review.
http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/scotland/elie-the-golf-house-club/

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 12, 2021, 06:06:43 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Matthew Mollica

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2016, 07:09:45 AM »
Thanks so much Sean. I only knew a little about Elie prior to your review, after having found a brassie with A.H.Scott - Elie stamped into it. The course just looks like so much fun. I reckon I'd love a game there one day! Thanks again for the effort with the images and descriptions. Very enjoyable.
"The truth about golf courses has a slightly different expression for every golfer. Which of them, one might ask, is without the most definitive convictions concerning the merits or deficiencies of the links he plays over? Freedom of criticism is one of the last privileges he is likely to forgo."

Thomas Dai

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2016, 02:45:22 PM »
Nice to see a photo looking along the length of the famous shelved 13th green, the photo really shows up the slopes and curves and ridges and shoulders that lie within the putting surface. Highlights that shelf green can be intricate and don't have to be essentially flat.
Atb
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 02:47:17 PM by Thomas Dai »

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2016, 04:48:28 PM »
 Peter the word I offer you is ..love.   This is the kinda course you love or miss the point and pick faults with. The photo's make it seem like other courses but I think it is that  over cited, truly one of a kind. I've played course which were former 'farmers fields' with a few bunkers  and copious rough that amounted to very little indeed. But at Elie the rough is not the dominant feature, the land is. It really does seem to get to the very essence of fun with it's 18 holes seemingly randomly places across some lively terrain.

 

 
(Having said all that there’s plenty  good architecture and clever use of blindness. I thinks Sean underrates 1,2, 8, 13 & 15. Theo overall flow is wonderful and the 'what happens next' factor is so high you never notice the length at all.)

 
If anything Sean's report underplays the wildness and greatness of the greens. Anyone know how far the fall from front to back on 10 is? My guess is 10' on a 25 yard green, putting under these conditions is similar to some of the shots you get on the Himalayas. And of course who wants to pitch to the front of a green like that?  The ground game is DEMANDED here. Of course there’s bunkers to be skirted and wind to take into account...perhaps the word I want is magic.

 
I did a thread a few years ago after my first visit and I was unsure of how 'good' a course it is.  Who cares about the answer to that? Definitely in my top 10 courses to play.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Sean_A

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2016, 06:33:33 PM »

Thank you MM.

Spangles...Elie went straight into my HAPPY 100 top 10 and top 20 of my GB&I top 100.  I was very impressed.  The only negative thing I could say about the course is it didn't play very firm when we were there.

Ciao
« Last Edit: July 04, 2016, 04:07:20 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Mark Pearce

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE
« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2016, 01:42:13 PM »
I'm really sorry I couldn't make the dates work to get up there when you were there, Sean but really glad you liked Elie that much.


If anyone is in Fife and fancies a game at Elie between 16 and 25 of this month, give me a shout.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

James Boon

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Re: GOLF HOUSE CLUB, ELIE
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2016, 03:39:25 PM »




Sean,


Wonderful thread on a course I've yet to see, one day soon hopefully!


Like the look of the holes with the cliffs and rocks in the background but my favourite picture is this one of the 4th, above. The ridge running up to the green reminds me a little of 7 at Burnham, the hint of the town off to the left, but most of all that sky! Its my new desktop wallpaper... Bring on golf in Scotland!


Cheers,


James
2022 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Reay

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

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