The Blairgowrie Golf Club: A Must for Visiting Golfers
Rosemount Course - 18 holes, 6590 yards, par 72. £50/£55 per round.
Landsdowne Course- 18 holes, 6802 yards, par 72. £40/45 per round.
Wee Course- 9 holes, 4704 yards (18 holes), par 64. £20 per day.
The town of Blairgowrie is a pleasant country town handily situated only 16 miles from the town of Perth and twenty miles from the City of Dundee. It is in an area rich in golf courses of which Blairgowrie Golf Club is one of the best. Formed in 1889 The Blairgowrie Golf Club is certainly one of the top inland clubs in Scotland. Two excellent 18-hole courses, one nine hole course, and high quality facilities should, in my opinion, make the Blairgowrie Golf Club a must for any visiting golfer.
The first course laid out on the grounds was a 9-hole affair and was named the Landsdowne Course after the Dowager Marchioness of Landsdowne from whom the land for the course was purchased. This course was later renamed the Wee Course after the addition of a further two 18-hole courses.
The Rosemount course, measuring out at 6,590 yards from the medal tees, was designed by the most famous of course designers, James Braid. It has often been voted one of the top inland courses in Scotland, but has a few other claims to fame. It was over the Rosemount Course that former world number one Greg Norman won his first ever European Tour event while the world record for consecutive birdies, 10, was set in 1973 between the course's 8th and 17th holes during a tournament practice round.
More recently the Rosemount Course has played host to the 1995 Senior Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship while the 1996 Seniors Amateur Championship was also played over Rosemount and Landsdowne.
A round of the Rosemount course is a memorable affair, but amongst some great holes I found the closing four-hole sequence of two par threes and two par fours particularly enjoyable. The 15th hole is the innocuous sounding "Wee Dunt", so called due to the fact that it measures only 129 yards from the medal tees. Its length however betrays what is in fact a difficult hole with a particularly nasty bunker to the right of the green and trees just beyond ensuring that one's tee shot is far from simple and that those who miss the green will have a difficult job making a par.
This is followed by "Black Loch"; the longest par four on the course. This is a beautifully crafted hole that bends round the loch from which it gets its name and its adjacent woodland. Playing at 435 yards even from the forward trees this hole is made even tougher by the fact that firstly water and then out of bounds run up the left hand side of the hole.
The par three 17th is named "Plateau" and is another example of the need for an accurate tee shot as despite the fact that the green is quite large, landing your ball on the wrong tier makes putting treacherous.
The closing hole meanwhile is another great hole. A fairly generous fairway makes for a fairly simple looking tee shot, but landing the ball in the wrong place will leave with a very difficult second shot. As the fairway bends right down the slope to the two-tier green, any player who has landed his drive on the right hand side of the fairway will find his approach blocked not only by trees, but should he get over them a bunker short and right also must be avoided.
Rosemount is a challenging course, but in many respects I also found it fairly forgiving which can't really be said about its sister course. Many fairways tightly lined with silver birch and pine mean that straight driving in particular will be rewarded by the Landsdowne Course, but those that are a bit more wayward may struggle.
Added in the 1970s and designed by Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas, the Landsdowne Course should certainly not be ignored if visiting the club. Longer than its sister course (it measures 6,378 yards from forward tees while championship yardage weighs in at almost 7,000 yards) the Landsdowne Course is a very stiff test of any golfers metal.
Having shared the 1996 Seniors Amateur Championship with the Rosemount Course further indication of its difficulty is shown by the fact that Landsdowne has been chosen to play host to the Scottish Mid-Amateur championship twice in recent years.
In particular, the opening and closing holes are what stand out in one's memory. The first hole measures 461 yards and is a par four from forward tees, but a par five from all others. Starting as the course means to go on the opening hole is tremendously testing with players driving off from an elevated teeing position onto a fairway lined with thick woodland. The hole has a slight dogleg to the left and the approach shot will always be tough due to the narrow entrance to the green.
The 18th is a similarly memorable hole. Although the cutting back of some trees on the left hand side has made this right to left dog leg somewhat easier the degree of difficulty it represents now is testament to how tough it was previously. Besides the difficulty of the tee shot, the bunkers that guard the entrance to the undulating green ensure that once again that no matter how good the drive one's approach shot will never be straightforward.
Besides the two marvellous courses already mentioned, the Blairgowrie Golf Club has much more to offer. In particular, for the more inexperienced golfer or for those who would prefer a cheaper day out, the nine-hole Wee Course provides good value for money. It has some very enjoyable holes such as the par 4 second "Fairy Dell" with its green nestled in a tree shaded hollow and is kept the same top class condition as its compatriots.
Clubhouse facilities are also excellent with a large visitor's locker room, pleasant bar area, and catering available all day. Buggies are allowed on the course and available to hire while professional tuition from the club pro, Charles Dernie is also available for visitors.
As for booking, visitors are always welcome, but some restrictions do apply on Wednesdays, Fridays and at the weekends. Visitors can book times through the course starter or via the club's website. Group bookings however should be made by telephone or fax to the Managing Secretary, John Simpson.
The wide range of accommodation available in the town also matches the high quality of golf on offer. It ranges from relatively inexpensive bed and breakfasts to more luxurious country house hotels, while the town's position at the base of the Grampian Mountains allows the perfect opportunity to take a day off from the golf to indulge in some spectacular sight seeing.
The Blairgowrie Golf Club
Golf Course Road
Starter: Tel. +44 (0) 1250 872594
Managing Secretary: Tel. +44 (0) 1250 872622
Fax: +44 (0) 1250 8754512
Club Web site: www.blairgowrie-golf.co.uk