The Alyth Golf Club is a Pleasant Scotland Surprise Worth Checking Out
Perthshire, Scotland - The Alyth Golf Club is positioned about one mile to the south-east of the country town of Alyth, in the heart of rural Perthshire.
This is an area that is renowned for the quality and abundance of its golf courses and with such famous clubs as Carnoustie and Downfield within one hours drive and Blairgowrie Golf Club only quarter of an hour away, Alyth is often overlooked by the visiting golfer. If, however, one takes the time to visit the club, which recently celebrated its centenary, you will find a charming and challenging course mixed with a friendly atmosphere and excellent facilities.
Although probably too well established to be called a hidden gem, the club benefits from its lack of international fame in the sense that the course is rarely too crowded and it is relatively easy for visitors or visiting groups to book tee times.
The original course opened in 1894 and has been developed over the following hundred years into the 18 holes that we see today, part of which was designed by James Braid. It is very much a traditional inland Scottish course, borrowing greatly from the natural lie of the land to give each hole its own characteristics and making use of thick gorse and woodland to trap the errant shot.
At 6,205 yards and a par of 70, Alyth is not a particularly long course so those of us not in the Tiger Woods class of driving certainly aren;t at a great disadvantage. The outward nine in particular often requires astute shot selection and acts of blind faith rather than lengthy drives and as such has particular appeal to medium length hitters like myself.
The inward nine is 421 yards longer than the outward stretch and this coupled with the absence of water features probably provide more of an advantage to those that can give the ball a long whack.
Aside from the course, the club offers a large practice area to help get in the swing of things before a round and a modern professional shop stocking a wider range of equipment and apparel than its outward size might suggest.
The clubhouse is also a bit of a surprise, although suffering from a rather ugly outward appearance, is very pleasant and comfortable inside with both a restaurant/bar area and a separate lounge.
The 366-yard, par four first hole is quite open and provides a fairly gentle opening hole. A blind tee shot up the hill on to a wide fairway with little danger from the fairway bunkers leaves a short iron shot into the large and receptive green. The 404 yard second hole however provides a stiffer challenge with a tee shot from an elevated tee leaving a blind second shot requiring a middle iron to a situated down a fairly steep slope.
This is a tough shot, even with a guide pin, due, firstly to difficulty in judging the correct club and secondly due to the bunkers on either side guarding the entrance to the green. Further palpitations await those that prefer to keep the sand iron in their bag at the par three third as two large bunkers guard the left hand side and another the front right of the elevated green.
The fourth hole is designated the toughest hole on the course by the stroke index and I would not be one to disagree. Despite the fact that the midpoint of the hole is at roughly the same elevation as the tee, the large drop in between will almost certainly collect the majority of medium length drives and send them trickling back down the hill.
This can leave even what may have at first seemed a good shot looking like a pretty puny effort and make even good golfers wonder if they are being asked to drive the width of the Strathmore Glen itself. Once again therefore, unless you hit a mighty drive, a blind shot to the terraced green is required.
If the fourth is the toughest test on the course the following hole is not, however far behind. The 315-yard, par 4 fifth hole is probably also the most fun hole on the course with slight left to right dog leg being complicated by the out of bounds all the way down the right and two burns that cross the fairway waiting to collect players; tee shots.
Whether a wood over both burns is used or an iron shot to lay up between them, the approach shot is just as tough. The high elevated green slopes sharply from back to front and is as hard as a billiard table, making putting treacherous and sending any over powerful hot bouncing down the slope to the bottom of the terrace.
The par four sixth hole slopes sharply all the way from right to left and has out of bounds on the right and a burn on the left which carries on and runs along the front of the green of the short seventh hole. The eight hole is a short par four and at 252 yards will be driveable to many, but is made more challenging by a blind tee shot and the need to avoid out of bounds on the right.
Out of bounds continues to haunt those with a tendency to hit the ball right on the long straight ninth hole which closes a very diverse and entertaining front nine.
The back nine starts as it means to go on, with two very challenging holes. The tenth is a 42-yard par 4 (par 5 for ladies) with a blind tee shot and a nasty dip in the fairway, which tends to collect a lot of tee shots while the par five eleventh slopes sharply from left to right and has a very steep green.
The twelfth and thirteenth provide the only doglegs on the inward nine and are very much mirror images of each other. The tee shot on the twelfth is from an elevated position to a fairway and green down the hill while the thirteenth, which runs adjacent to the twelfth, goes back up the hill.
From here on in, the closing holes are all fairly straight and long. The fourteenth and seventeenth holes are the two longest par threes on the course, measuring 188 yards and 182 yards respectively while the par four fifteenth is, at 426 yards, the longest par four. The 535-yard, par 5 sixteenth is by far the longest hole on the course and will provided the stiffest challenge to shorter hitters.
However, the steeply sloping green and the bunkers that guard it will ensure that no player will find the hole a push over. The final hole provides a pleasant end to the round with a large green situated directly outside the bar and restaurant in the clubhouse giving a fair margin for error in the approach.
I found Alyth a thoroughly enjoyable course to play, in good condition with a little something for everyone and plenty of ingenuity needed. The setting was very conducive to a good day out, while the atmosphere in the club house and the attitude of all the staff was exceptionally friendly and lacked any of the sense of pomposity that visitors sometimes run into in private clubs.
It is certainly a club that I would recommend visiting and with two new golf centres just opened up nearby to add to the existing clubs, this area would provide an excellent base for any golfing trip.
The Alyth Golf Club
Perth and Kinross
Tel: +44 (0)1828 632411 (Professional/Starter)
+44 (0)1828 632268 (Secretary)
Fax: +44 (0)1828 633491
The head professional at the club is Tom Melville.