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Sean_A

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CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links New
« on: May 28, 2018, 07:24:43 AM »
As we failed to make The Old Course Ballot two Pests made the inspired choice to play Crail.  I wasnít overly impressed with my first game some 25 years ago and have essentially avoided going back.  What a mistake as Crail greatly impressed me this time around.  However, the slow going caused by the small property and the odd dangerous situations hasn't changed!  Crail may be a case in point as to why it is important to see the surrounding danger rather than cover courses in trees for protection!   

Being one of the more famous non-Open courses in Scotland and of ancient origins (7th oldest club in the world being formed in 1786), the Balcomie Links at Crail doesnít need much of an introduction.  With the boom of the railroad came Old Tom Morris, who certainly had a hand in the evolution of Balcomie (not to be confused with the clubís much newer course, Craighead), but itís a mystery as to what survives as the course has been altered many times. Indeed, the course has been changed since my last visit. The 5th strikes me as newish green further around the beach, much further.  A new short hole 6th is now in place which means the 7th was shortened to less than 300 yards.  The back nine too has been altered.  The long par three 10th which played over the 11th tee is no longer.  The net result is a more balanced yardage between the nines despite four of the short holes being on the back nine.  Another interesting aspect of the card is the par of 67 from the forward tees and 69 from the medal tee.  Essentially, #s 2 and 11 have become bogey 5 holes, but for the back tees rather than the front.



There are few more epic opening views than Balcomie's.  The 1st is to the left and 14th to the right.






A very difficult two-shotter of some 450 yards, the second hugs the coast.




The short 3rd is blind with the next tee quite near the line of play, or so it seems.  The green is craftily designed to gather from the left thus making the tee shot a bit safer. Once over the brow all becomes clear.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 29, 2020, 04:51:03 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

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2018, 06:31:49 AM »
We now get two holes legging right around two separate inlets of the coast.  Their yardages are very different though with the 4th being a tempting 315 yards.  The 5th is 125 yards longer and the tee shot is much more demanding.


5th




The short 6th turns about face then we climb a sharp hill for the blind 7th.  Another short par 4, but with an interesting twist of the fairway being disconnected from the green.   


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 05:55:54 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: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links 1-7
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2018, 06:44:08 AM »
1st green looks interesting. Cross bunker in front, stream at the rear. Guess it must be a bit challenging downwind!
Atb

Sam Andrews

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Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links 1-7
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2018, 07:59:58 AM »
Played it a fortnight ago with three friends, all of whom agreed it was great fun with some daunting drives and approaches. Special mention ought to be made of the fish and chips too, best I have had in ages.
He's the hairy handed gent, who ran amok in Kent.

Sean_A

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Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links 1-7
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2018, 05:48:37 AM »
Sam

Yes, we stood in line for sometime at the f&c bar in Anstruther and the fish was excellent!

CRAIL TOUR CONT

A long, testing two-shotter, the 8th plays to an excellent double green shared with the bruiser 11th, Crail's most difficult par 4s. The fairway is very wide, but driving up the left leaves an up the gut uphill approach. Its quite evident in the photo that Crail has more parkland grasses dominating the rough and large areas of fairways.


The golfers behind the green are teeing off on #12.  This section of the course has an interesting flow as the three long holes are broken up with two very short par 4s...all of which cover hilly terrain. 


A closer look at the green.


Now then, being a fan of short 4s, I was very taken by the 9th.  The downhill nature of the hole encourages folks to have a bash, which then makes the outstanding use of the boundary wall come into play.


The uphill 10th is an odd looking duck with a centre-line bunker and a bit of  false-front green.  A cracking hole, the 427 yard 11th is all uphill and appropriately named Lang Whang. A five here is as good as a par.






Heading back down the hill, the three-shot 12th isn't a special hole, though there is a nasty hidden bunker over the brow of a mound on a perfect line with wind off the left which will temper many from having a proper go at this hole. The hole is named Burn, but it is the green which is most engaging.


The terrific short 13th follows, a hole I didn't recall in the slightest.


The green and front apron are thought-provoking. Not pictured is the car park to the right.  I imagine it doesn't take much of  poor strike with wind off the left to cause some concern.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 05:56:44 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

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links 1-13
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2018, 04:35:12 AM »
Happy memories, great clubhouse views with a friendly welcome. Nice walk with some fine shots to be played, but I somehow donít get as excited about the thought of a return, compared to half a dozen other local courses. Something missing?
 
This shot is daunting. To think it was designed to be played with Hickories tells you something about the character of Golf as it was.
 
« Last Edit: June 01, 2018, 04:37:42 AM by Tony_Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Niall C

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Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links 1-13
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2018, 06:57:03 AM »
Tony

I think I now what you mean. Played it a number of times over the years and while enjoyable it doesn't get me revved up for a return. Indeed I'm just as happy playing the Craighead course and it's not often that I wouldn't take an old classic course over a new one.

Niall

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links 1-13
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2018, 03:12:28 AM »
Iíve played Crail many times over the years, was on the brink of being engaged to do some work there and absolutely love the place.


Why do I love it? Because the layout and sequence is unlike any other. Crail is not a great course but it has some great golf within and nevertheless, it is a round that is quick, relaxing and the brings out the essence of the game, allowing one to not take themselves too seriously.


I return today for another look...




Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links 1-13
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2018, 04:21:52 AM »
There is something not quite right about Crail and I think its the details..starting with the place largely being populated by meadow grass. Still, as Ally states, there is quite a bit of compelling golf to be had. 

CRAIL TOUR CONT

The 14th takes us back down to sea level in a visually spectacular manner, although the dropshot hole itself is nothing special.


Perhaps the best walk in all of golf follows along beach path past a cave of some importance.


However, I don't find the four holes stranded on southeast end of the property entirely satisfying.  It definitely feels as though these holes are a bit crammed.  A very short par 4, the 15th is far and away the dullest hole on the course.  Spion Kop or the 16th, is a good enough short hole even if it feels like an inferior version of the 13th.


Cheekily called the Road Hole, perhaps a more apt name for 17 would be Plains.  Although, the greensite is very good.




Thankfully, the par three 18th is a fine finish due to an excellent green.


Crail has gone way up in my estimation.  There are so many very good holes which include 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 13 & 18 that it is silly to dismiss Crail as an also-ran. However, Crail rarely gives me the impression of playing as a genuine links should and some of the details such as grass lines leaves a lot to be desired.  Be that as it may, if the golfer can live with the idea that Crail isn't a proper links the course should be easy to enjoy.  2018

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 07, 2018, 05:57:34 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

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2018, 03:11:50 PM »
SEan,


I agree with most of this, though I think 14 is a better hole than you give it credit for, mostly because of the difficulty of hitting the right part of the green. 


It's clear that not all of the land on which Crail sits is links land at all (4, 5 and 6 seem to be on arable land and I think 17 and 18 probably are too, and that not enough care has been taken to protect the links character of those parts that are links.  Some of this stems from the desire to keep it green to attract US visitors, I suspect.


It is a great club to be a member of, though, and I fail every year to do as I intend and resign my membership.  Graeme Rennie is one of the best club pros in Scotland, too.


Did you play the Craighead course while there?
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

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2018, 07:07:02 AM »
Mark

Yes, the 14th does have a severe false front.

No, didn't play the Craighead.  I wasn't in charge of the itinerary  8)

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

James Brown

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2018, 06:35:27 AM »
I played Crail for the second time this last week.  When did they make the beach OOB on 4 and 5?  I didnít used to be that way and I think it kinda spoils both those holes.  That might be the only beach on Scotland that is OOB!

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2018, 09:10:38 AM »
I played Crail for the second time this last week.  When did they make the beach OOB on 4 and 5?  I didnít used to be that way and I think it kinda spoils both those holes.  That might be the only beach on Scotland that is OOB!


James,
agreed the OB on 4 and 5 is a real downer with such a great hazard/ beach.
But I struggle to think of a beach in Scotland not marked out of bounds.
The opening 4 holes along the seas at Lundin are all staked OB which along with the silly OB on 17 tight to the left with little over there to protect, the range on 18 forcing most play down #1 fairway, and the internal OB down the side of multtiple holes (forcing play into tight adjacent fairways(esp #5,6 ,7) throughout the front and back nines-it (OB)becomes the dominant feature of what could otherwise be a cool interesting course-and makes it quite a dangerous place to play. The occasional walkers may be safer, but the players are definitely in jeopardy.


Even remote Durness had massively landscape dominating, multiple ugly OB stakes along the left of its reverse Cypress Point 16th 9th hole
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2018, 09:34:28 AM »

Jeff,


don't you think Durness' 9th OOB might be about safety????


North Berwick for starters.....

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2018, 09:57:21 AM »

Jeff,


don't you think Durness' 9th OOB might be about safety? ???





I'm sure it is-I envision the chain of players Lemon-Eastwood-Jacobsen with Norman cowering in the back ;D
Haven't heard of any deaths at 16 Cypress Point though

"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2018, 12:40:31 PM »
Jeff,The beach at North Berwick is available for play, though not advised.

James Reader

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2018, 01:59:47 PM »
I played Crail for the second time this last week.  When did they make the beach OOB on 4 and 5?  I didnít used to be that way and I think it kinda spoils both those holes.  That might be the only beach on Scotland that is OOB!


James,
agreed the OB on 4 and 5 is a real downer with such a great hazard/ beach.
But I struggle to think of a beach in Scotland not marked out of bounds.
The opening 4 holes along the seas at Lundin are all staked OB which along with the silly OB on 17 tight to the left with little over there to protect, the range on 18 forcing most play down #1 fairway, and the internal OB down the side of multtiple holes (forcing play into tight adjacent fairways(esp #5,6 ,7) throughout the front and back nines-it (OB)becomes the dominant feature of what could otherwise be a cool interesting course-and makes it quite a dangerous place to play. The occasional walkers may be safer, but the players are definitely in jeopardy.


Even remote Durness had massively landscape dominating, multiple ugly OB stakes along the left of its reverse Cypress Point 16th 9th hole


The beach by the 10th at Turnberry is definitely not out of bounds. .

Ally Mcintosh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2018, 03:04:26 PM »
I know I discussed with the club returning the 4th and 5th to red stakes.


White or red, itís actually a really unsafe part of the course with the Fife Coastal Route being frequented by many walkers.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2018, 03:09:21 PM »
I recall Whitty commenting on the beach being OOB and my first thought was does the club really want golfers wandering around that beach?  I am sure it is a safety issue.  Lots of people hang on the N Berwick beach and there are ladders down to the beach, so the danger level is vastly reduced.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Scott Senior

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2018, 03:36:13 PM »
SEan,


I agree with most of this, though I think 14 is a better hole than you give it credit for, mostly because of the difficulty of hitting the right part of the green. 


It's clear that not all of the land on which Crail sits is links land at all (4, 5 and 6 seem to be on arable land and I think 17 and 18 probably are too, and that not enough care has been taken to protect the links character of those parts that are links.  Some of this stems from the desire to keep it green to attract US visitors, I suspect.


It is a great club to be a member of, though, and I fail every year to do as I intend and resign my membership.  Graeme Rennie is one of the best club pros in Scotland, too.


Did you play the Craighead course while there?




Mark,


You are lucky to be a member at such a wonderful place. I couldn't agree more about Graeme Rennie, one of the best club pros anywhere! Cheers

Mark Pearce

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2018, 04:46:55 PM »
You are lucky to be a member at such a wonderful place. I couldn't agree more about Graeme Rennie, one of the best club pros anywhere! Cheers
And he has trained his assistant well.  I walked into the pro shop last week for the first time in a couple of years and was met like a long lost friend.
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 Brown

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2018, 07:00:23 PM »
I know I discussed with the club returning the 4th and 5th to red stakes.


White or red, itís actually a really unsafe part of the course with the Fife Coastal Route being frequented by many walkers.


Lots of Scottish courses I can think of where the beach is not OOB.  Dunbar.  Golspie.  Machrihanish.  Kingsbarns. 


I can appreciate the safety issue.


I just resorted to playing 4 and 5 with irons out to the short left for easy bogeys in a strong SW wind and felt like the OOB really took away from the fun. 

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2018, 01:37:16 AM »
Of course with the new OOB dropping rule coming in that basically removes any advantage it had safety wise over a lateral.

ward peyronnin

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Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2018, 01:43:20 PM »
How many courses can you claim to have a view of the sea all 18 holes? At least that is my recollection form 17 yrs ago.
Is that the indominatable Sterlin Forsyth stalking the 17th?
"Golf is happiness. It's intoxication w/o the hangover; stimulation w/o the pills. It's price is high yet its rewards are richer. Some say its a boys pastime but it builds men. It cleanses the mind/rejuvenates the body. It is these things and many more for those of us who truly love it." M.Norman

Sean_A

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Re: CRAIL GS: Balcomie Links
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2018, 05:32:45 PM »
Is that the indominatable Sterlin Forsyth stalking the 17th?

Si

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

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