Tremendous front nine!
The club is the 6th oldest in the world and was founded in 1780. The atmosphere and sense of tradition is felt in the entire clubhouse. It’s a very conservative club.
The Balgownie links is a true championship course and the Walker Cup 2011 was held here in early September – USA vs. Great Britain and Ireland –amateurs. The GB & Ireland team took the victory in tough windy conditions – well done.
Balgownie has a classic links layout – out through the dunes and back along a plateau. It’s a very natural and testing links course with tight fairways, demanding bunkers and slick small greens. The condition of the course is amazing and impeccable.
The front nine is tremendous – nestling in a valley among dune, it will challenge and excite the best of golfers. It may well be the best front nine in golf and it’ll test every club you have in the bag:
Hole 2 – 530 yards par 5
A natural hole – a long carry off the tee, high dunes on the right and dangerous gorse on the left. Low long irons is your choice and don’t be fooled if it’s calm in the valley, because as soon as the ball get’s off the ground it’ll hit the wind. Two deep bunkers at the front protect the green. Great golf hole. Good drive, good 3-iron and a 6-iron close to pin, two put for a par 5 – solid golf.
Hole 5 – 324 yards par 4
You only need a 200-yard shot off tee, don’t try to hit longer – you’ll get in trouble because the fairway is very narrow. Make sure you are rather long then short on the approach shot, because you don’t want to be in the front green side bunker – believe me! It’s though a birdie opportunity hole. I ended up in the bunker and got a bogey 5.
Hole 7 – 374 yards par 4
It’s a slight dogleg right hole and it’s hard to see the fairway from tee. Play it safe on the left hand side. There are bunkers everywhere, 4 on the fairway and 4 around the green at the front. Make sure you are long on the approach shot. Be careful on green – it’s a two-tiered green and pin placement is key. I got in trouble off tee, but a good recovery shot close to green avoiding bunkers, 3 put for a bogey 5.
Hole 8 – 147 yards par 3
This is the signature hole. It’s short, but depending on the wind, it can be anything from a 3-iron to a pitching wedge. It’ll test your nerve – 10 (!!!!!!!) bunkers are protecting the narrow green on the left and right. So, just hit it straight down the middle. I was not straight and got caught in a bunker – bogey 4 after a good bunker shot.
The front nine is impressive and outstanding. The back nine are good and challenging, but they are not impressive to me. The overall experience is down a nodge because of the back nine.
Samo played his final game with me before heading back home to Slovenia. We were both excited during the front nine and played reasonable good. But, we both got tired during the back nine and didn’t focus as much as we should have had.
I made a 39 on the front nine and a 42 on the back for a total of 81 (gross). Long irons worked really well, but the rest is not much to talk about. I certainly look forward to 3 days of rest before playing Carnoustie.
Royal Aberdeen Golf Club - Balgownie links