Thursday 10th June I’m back on the ‘Grand Scottish Golf Photo Tour’ again, which will probably go on for another couple of weeks. As previously mentioned, I’m fulfilling my role as the main provider of course photography for the Official Guide to Golf in Scotland, to give it full title and at the end of this month I’ll get the email asking for around 15 Gb of new images. So better get snapping!
It’s great fun dashing around Scotland like this. As I sit and watch the miles go by, I feel like I’m in some sort of Disney-esque viewing pod, the scenery around me simply changing. Scotland’s such a small country it’s amazing the different landscapes you can encounter in one day. Hiking over multiple golf courses from 5am until around 9 at night gets a bit tiring on the legs though.
Yesterday I set off west from home-base in Angus, picking off nice Perthshire courses such as Crieff, Comrie, St Fillans all the way round to Callendar. This trip I’m driving our Volkswagen Golf ostensibly to save on fuel but also avoiding the prospect of sleeping in the back of the Volvo as was once my intention.
Tonight I’m staying at my cousin’s in Dunblane. I am eternally grateful for how well dispersed my friends and relatives are around the country.
Friday 11th June, 2010 I was on the road again at 6.30am and climbed the considerable heights of Bridge of Allan Golf Club but the views especially at the crack of dawn were glorious. The Ochil Hills in high definition - check out the images…
I carried on and covered golf courses at Balfron, Buchanan Castle, Hilton Park, Windyhill, Greenock, Port Bannatyne, Rothesay and West Kilbride,not bad for a day’s work. There are some great views to be had especially from the courses that look across the Clyde. Greenock is a course I hadn't considered in the past; I can’t comment on it from a playing proposition, (something I shall rectify as soon as I get off this ‘Photo Tour’) but the views are more than worth the modest hike.
Just north of Glasgow near Drymen, Buchanan Castle Golf Club is doing some interesting things regarding their club history. Connected with Duke of Montrose and Rob Roy MacGregor, the ‘Robin Hood’ of 17th century Scotland, there is project recently completed by Stirling University bringing together much of the castle and golf club’s historic details. Here’s a link to the club’s relevant web page but I intend digging a bit deeper into this.
They have recently refurbished the interior of the clubhouse to a very high standard, complete with superb paintings from the Duke’s collection particularly illustrating the period when the golf course was as race course. Yet again, I didn’t have time to play the course, simply ride around in a buggy for an hour or so taking pictures - and wishing I could play. Suffice to day, the Buchanan Castle course is fairly flat, as you would imagine for a race course but with some nice doglegs interspersed with burns and ponds. Another for the ‘To Play’ list!
I stopped by to take a quick look at the Buchanan Castle ruins atop the hill and overlooking the course; very nice - but once again while the sun shines - I must dash!
I drove south towards Glasgow and picked off Hilton Head’s two 18 hole courses - literally - as there was no buggy available so I nabbed the 9th & 18th holes and was back in the car in around 10 mins. Hey, the pictures look great! Glasgow itself beckoned but I had booked ferry crossings “Doon the Watter” as they say in this part of the world referring to a trip down the River Clyde to visit the Isles of Bute and Great Cumbrae. So it was straight across the Erskine Bridge on towards Greenock then down to Wymess Bay to catch the CalMac ferry.
Canada Hill Rothesay Golf Club is insignificant as a playing proposition basically circumnavigating a significant rise called Canada Hill so called because was the last place relatives could see ships carrying departing kin away to Canada. It certainly is a stunning 360 degree viewpoint if you walk around the hill with views over the Kyles of Bute and the freshwater Loch Fad that almost cuts the Isle of Bute in two. I could also make out the isles of Great & Little Cumbrae which were today’s next destination - and it was nearly 7pm.
Getting back to the Scottish mainland, the sun was sinking into a grey haze. I took a couple of shots at Largs Golf Club followed by West Kildribe, an interesting looking links but here was little usable light left and therefore no point in taking the 10-minute ferry crossing to Great Cumbrae.
South Beach Hotel, Troon I’ve ended up in one of my most frequented hotels, South Beach in Troon. God knows how many evenings I’ve spent in this bar in this hotel. The owner Stewart Watt and his family have looked after me for years and I can’t thank them enough. I can only let you know, South Beach in Troon is one of the friendliest golf hotels in the busy Ayrshire golfing Mecca, ideal for playing courses around Troon & Prestwick and at a most affordable price. What you save staying here compared to the ‘big name’ hotels in Troon, Prestwick or Turnberry equates to at least extra 2 or 3 rounds of golf.
South Beach Hotel weaved its warm magic - along with a couple of pints and some wine with dinner and I passed out in front of the telly. You’d think I was tired or something.