Time to bump this back to the top.
There are rustic golf courses...and then there is Minch Old.
Paid a return visit to Minch yesterday in the company of Tom Kelly (a first timer) and Sean Arble (an old hat). It had been far too long since I'd acquainted myself with the place, but assuredly, as the thread title suggests, nothing much had changed.
All the usual Minch charms were on show. Before we'd even reached the 1st green, Sean had baptised his Ecco's with a moist cow pat. The 3rd green was colonised by a full herd of cattle, one of whom, as Sean later put it, had "lost its guts" spectacularly across the putting surface. The electric fences around the greens were just a tad too high to hurdle comfortably. Alarmingly close to the old wedding tackle. We teed off on the 6th over an assortment of cows, bullocks, calves, horses and even a donkey. Tom thought it a good time to hit a 3 wood off a low tee. I couldn't tee mine high enough, with the inevitable skyer ensuing. The ice cream van was there. The roads through the course were packed. Tom hit an approach shot to the 11th underneath a van, which was parked...some...way..to the left of the hole! It rained for a couple of seconds, causing the Tin Man much distress and between us we nobbled it around quite effectively, with Tom striping it down the wafer thin fairways and putting like a God on bumpy, slow and somewhat organically supplemented greens. The heavens opened as we walked off the course, which always feels like you've managed to put one over on the Big Man upstairs.
We spent a fair amount of time looking back at the abandoned features of the old layout, which is why I've brought this thread back up. I'd forgotten some of the changes, particularly the fact that 14 played across the road on the approach. The replacement par 3 is the weakest hole on the course. I remembered that the par 3 10th was a new hole and showed Tom the old green ledge hard against the roadway. The abandoned 12th green is much missed. This was an extraordinary green site, set blind beyond high earthworks with a hidden moat surrounding the front and left of the green, with the busy road not 5 yards from the right edge. I played it once, back in 1992 and it was unforgettable.
We debated the current layout of the 13th hole extensively and as I thought, the fairway used to play between the high ridge and the road. That's where I massively blocked my drive...in honour of past times!
It's a shadow of its former glorious layout, but retains more than enough charm to make you want to come back. We played at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and they charged us just £12. British golf offers value like nowhere else can if you venture off the beaten track.