Strathmore Golf Centre: A World-Class Destination for Golfers
In recent years Scotland has seen growing numbers of golfers visiting its shores, as well as more Scots taking up the sport. While such things would appear to bode well for Scottish golf, it has been highlighted that such levels of demand for access to quality golf courses may actually begin to outstrip supply. The Strathmore Golf Centre is one of the new breed of developments that are becoming essential in allowing Scotland to cope with these blossoming numbers of golfers.
Positioned a mile outside the country town of Alyth, Strathmore Golf Centre is one of a number of clubs at the forefront of attempts to market this area of Perthshire into an international class holiday destination for the discerning golfer. And with the large number of high quality golf courses within a short drive, there is little reason to doubt that such plans will prove fruitful.
As for the Strathmore club itself, I certainly found that it lives up to its growing local reputation. Set in the base of the Strathmore Valley and surrounded by rural countryside, some tremendous views are afforded across the valley bottom to the Sidlaw Hills in the South. However, and more importantly, it also provides the opportunity for some good golf at an affordable price.
Despite only opening in 1996, excellent course design has already seen the 18-hole Rannaleroch Course being hailed as a future classic. A rolling parkland course, one of the many surprises is that the layout of the course has ensured few uphill holes, a fact that will be appreciated by those not so long hitters and those that don't like to mix their golf with a spot of mountaineering.
However, golfers that can generate more length from their shots should not be too overly confident. The course is still no push over, weighing in at a decent 6,454 yards from the medal tees and playing every bit of it.
It is, however, a fairly open course, in more ways than one. Some generous fairways do, thankfully, give a decent margin for error meaning that the course will suit golfers with higher handicaps, along with the better player. Besides the open fairways, the course is also quite open to the elements. Although there is a fair amount of mature woodland around the edges of the complex, the course does suffer for its relative immaturity in that the large number of newly planted trees will still take a few years before they begin to act as any sort of a windbreak.
However, the plus side of this is that for those that spend more time in the rough than the fairway, the chances of lost balls or of backswings being hampered by overhanging branches are greatly reduced.
Thankfully, however, on the particular day I played the course, the weather was as near still as a February day in Scotland will ever get. This did however remove the possibility of explaining away my usual bad score by using the old excuse of adverse weather conditions. Credit must also go to the club green keeping staff whom had also made sure that I couldn't use the excuse that the course wasn't up to standard, as it was in as good condition as I have seen any course for this time of year.
However, since it was February and in order to keep the course in good condition for the upcoming season, it meant that wintergreens were in operation. This was unfortunate, as the quality and difficulty of the greens on the Rannaleroch course are the clubs pride and joy.
Certainly looking at the large, green, undulating expanses on which the winter golfer cannot tread, it is easy to understand why, and those that play the course in the summer months look like they are in for a treat. In fact, in retrospect it was may have been just as well that I didn't have to putt on them, as if I did my score may have been even higher.
When talking about stand out holes on the course, on the front nine the stretch of three holes from the four to the sixth certainly stick in my mind. Coming as it does after three relatively forgiving opening holes, the fourth hole represents something of a shock to the system.
A par three, the hole requires players to tee off from a high tee position down to a low green that is covered in shadow from the surrounding trees. Accuracy is essential on this hole as the green is guarded by two bunkers, front left, and to the right lies a fast flowing burn with only out of bounds beyond. In fact for those with a fear of water this is not a nice stretch of holes as all three require it to be avoided in one way or another.
At the par five fifth, the water is once again easily in evidence, as the tee shot requires a 160-yard carry over a pond, and rough before fairway is reached. But that isn't the only trick up this hole's sleeve.
Out of bounds run down the majority of both sides of the fairway for a start and anyone trying to go for the green in two must watch out for the two bunkers guarding the left hand side of the approach to the green. Even a more measured approach may run into difficulties as another bunker lies to the front right of the green, and behind this a further water hazard awaits.
This stretch of water separates the greens of the fifth and the following hole thus providing further hazard on your tee shot on the par three sixth. Not only is there water to the left of the green, but the burn supplying it runs across the middle of the hole and lateral water hazards are also marked out down the right hand side of the green. In other words, if you manage to keep your ball out of the water over this stretch, then a good round may be in the offing.
The Strathmore Golf Centre has much more to offer the visitor however than just the Rannaleroch Course. The shorter nine-hole course, Leitfie Links, measures in at only 3,438 yards for 18 holes and is excellent for older players or for the more inexperienced.
The club also possess a practice green with bunkers and 10 bay floodlit driving range with its own golf academy run by professional Colin Smith. Colin Smith was formerly Head Instructor at the P.G.A. School of Denmark and offers individual and group instruction as well as a range of 3 day schools including beginners schools and "ladies only" schools.
If however all this golf gets too much and some refreshment is required, then I'm sure that you'll experience the same friendly service that I met at The 19th Hole Clubhouse where a full range of catering is available.
Strathmore Golf Centre
Tel: 011 44 1828 633 322
Fax: 011 44 1828 633 533