Three intrepid GCA posters and I ventured to Minch' Old recently. Three of us were on re-plays, although one not for several years, plus we had along one who had traveled 3,000 miles from across the ocean to the west.
Course conditions on the day were somewhat unusual, they normally are in some way or another at Minch ' Old, but more of that as the photos and text progress.
As an aside, from discussions the Club were most appreciative of Ran's visit last year, his Courses by Country review and the inclusion of the course within the 147 Custodians listing. If such helps unique clubs like this survive then all the better.
Here's the par-5 1st green from the left side. Spring flowers galore spread over the humps and hollows. You'll see more of this as you scroll through the photos.
Ground conditions for our visit were firm. The greens were very firm and fast, trickily so on approach shots, the ball making a delightful "thump" sound on first landing .... and then running on and on and on! Forget about spin, it was friction that was ultimately stopping approach shots and putts! There was a lot of rough present, and it was thick rough too. Hosel grabbing hack out style. Covered in flowers as well. With no cutting of the rough and no cattle on the common until a couple of weeks ago there's been no way to limit grass growth.
Here's the par-4 6th green as seen from just short of the green
As you will see from the photos there wasn't a lot of definition between the fairways and the roughs during our visit.
This is because the course is on Common land, which is shared usage land (farmers, golfers, picknickers, walkers etc etc), and the authority that manages the land insist that the cattle that graze the property have priority during the Springtime when the grass is at its most suitable for bovines. The cattle usually return to the Common in early May and the Common authorities apparently insisted this year that no grass at all (apart form the putting surfaces) be cut for two weeks before the cattle return and two weeks afterwards, ie a four week period.
Now the rough at Minch' Old is never cut, but the fairways usually are, but during the period mentioned above, the fairways haven't been. Hence the fairways have become longer and shaggier than usual, although not unplayably so. And this was the conditions we found during our game.
Unusual? Yes! But hell it only cost £12 each for 18-holes on a unique course on a wonderful weather day in a splendid setting.
Here is the long par-4 11th hole from the tee. Flowers, flowers and more flowers with cattle grazing in the far distance.
Now here's a thought, given the space available could the course be re-organised very slightly so it could be playable as a reversible routing? Answers on a postcard please!Below looking from the rear of the 18th green. Again flowers, flowers, flowers everywhere.
Well that's an update on Minch' Old.
Unique. Spacious. Tranquil. Serene. Golf as it probably was 100+ yrs ago. Maddening and frustrating at times too. But a course that seems to have a special aura all of its own. A Marmite course no doubt, but put aside your golfing ego and vanity for a few hours and go and play it, or somewhere akin to it, and you may well find yourself falling in love with the kind of golf it represents. You never know, you might even learn something about the game too.