Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club - 05/04/17 | Kilburnlad | Golf | Diary

Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club - 05/04/17

I'm in catch-up mode at the moment after being away for a week. Dunstanburgh Castle was the second course we played during the week's break in the north of England. It's a true links course among the dunes of the north-east coast, with the imposing ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle in the background. We had a good week for weather but chose to play this course on the windiest day of the week, with the average wind speed in the high teens and at times over 20 mph. It is a challenging course and while one expects wind on a links, it makes for interesting play.

The holes are generally on the long side and the 415 yards 1st was into the wind. My tee shot was weak and I then put the better second over onto the 6th fairway. It should be said, however, that there is only a narrow area of rough between the 1st and the 6th, and at first I didn't actually realise that I had crossed over. The excursion did, however, increase the length of play, but after four shots I was to the right of the green - in rough. My 9-iron chip raced across the fast green requiring another chip from the opposite side, which again crossed the green, requiring me to putt back on. One more putt gave me an 8, and a blob.

You then climb a fairly steep slope to get to the next four holes that are basically on a hill top. A feature of the course is that you are often playing with no sight of the pin, and this was the case on the 2nd. Three middling hybrids got me to within pitching distance, but my 8-iron was short, requiring another putt-on. Two more putts for a 7, and another blob.

I played the 3rd much better, with a 185 yard hybrid off the tee, followed by a 152 yard shot with the same club. A short 9-iron pitch and two putts for a 5 gave me a nett par.

Feeling more confident I then had a complete melt-down on the 4th. It's called the Plateau for good reason, being an elevated green, with a deep fall-off on all sides. I muffed the tee shot and didn't do much better with my 8-iron follow up. I then pushed a 9-iron to the right of the green, the ball going into a deep mini-ravine. My 9-iron pitch up didn't quite make it and I then sent the next chip across the green, where it rolled off into a deep pot bunker. I had four attempts to play out but then gave up, there being a pair behind us waiting on the tee. So, unfortunately I didn't play out this hole.

We let the two-ball through before tackling the 5th. This hole is called Hill Top, as you are playing up to the highest point. It wasn't too challenging although my hybrids were again mediocre, as was my first attempt to pitch on the green. I finally got on for four and two-putted for a 6, a nett bogey.
Hole 6 - Dunstanburgh -05 April 2017
And so to the 6th - The Salt Hole. The tee is perched on the edge a steep drop and the 6th and 1st fairways are laid out below you like an extract from Google Earth. And to the left is the beach and the sea. There was a strong right-to-left wind although it was coming from behind us, giving a fair amount of assistance. My tee shot was respectable but crept into the rough off the left of the fairway. The next shot was also good but a bit too far right. My pitch was then short, as was the next, needing a putt-on, with two more putts to finish with a 7, a nett bogey. My wife, Helen, hit a cracking drive on this hole, longer than mine and mid fairway. She then put a 3 hybrid on the green for 2. Quite something on a 385 yard hole!

You're back at the clubhouse for the 7th, the tee shot needing to clear a stream at about 100 yards, which I managed! The next shot is completely blind as a hill rises in front of you. I hit a clean shot that I thought had gone left into rough, but in fact it was on course and left me a 35 yard chip. I managed to put the ball to the right, off the green, then messed up the next chip, in the end needing three shots to get on the green. With two putts it was a 7, and a blob. A wasted approach.

On the 8th there's a deep depression at about 120 yards, so I decided to lay up with my 9-iron. I wasn't all that successful, the ball being short and ending up in deep rough in front of the ladies' tee. I muscled it out with an 8-iron and then hit a middling hybrid, leaving me an 80 yard pitch up to the elevated green. I decided to hit long and roll the ball down the sloping back of the green, but was too long and went into the rough. I chipped back on and two-putted for a 7, and another blob.

The 9th is very straightforward, just needing some controlled shots down the fairway. I got to within pitching distance in 3, pitched on with my 9-iron and two-putted for 6, a nett par.

The 10th was also without too many problems but fairly long at 403 yards. After a good tee shot, my second wasn't so good, and the third sliced right into rough. I played out well, too well in fact, the ball ending up well behind the green and a bit too close to the public coastal footpath. I chipped on and two-putted for a 7, a nett bogey .

The 11th was short, but we had now turned back into the wind. My tee shot was very short and went left into rough. The first attempt to get out with my 8-iron went only about 20 yards, but then I cleared and got myself to within pitching distance of the green. The 9-iron was a bit short and I putted on, with two more putts for a blobbed 7.

On the 12th we again turned with the wind behind us. Another longish par 4 at 410 yards, but this time I hit a 170 yard tee shot and followed it with another cleanly hit hybrid. This left me with an 8-iron pitch, which was a bit long and to the left of the green. I then muffed a 9-iron chip, the second attempt getting me on the green, where two putts gave me another 7. A nett bogey.

The 13th is the feature hole of the course. A short 100 yard par 3, the tee is one side of a small creek and the green the other. There is hardly any space around the green before you are out of bounds. You also receive the attention of any walkers who at this point pass close by the green, and wait for you to play for safety reasons. Fortunately we had only two observers (apparently there can be dozens in the summer) and my tentative 8-iron put the ball just off the right of the green. My 9-iron chip rolled off the green, but I then rather fortunately putted on and put the ball in the hole for a par, a nett birdie.

Hole 13 - Dunstanburgh - 05 April 2017

At this point we again turned into the wind, the final four holes all being against the wind. The 14th is a long par 5 at 521 yards. Against the 20+ mph wind it should have been at least a par 6, if not a 7! As if the elements weren't enough, I had a succession of poor shots and needed 7 to get on the green. Three putts and it was a 10!

The short (115 yard) 15th caught me out. The wind shortened my hybrid shot such that it landed at the bottom of a depression in front of the elevated green, the ball just avoiding going in the little streamlet that runs through. My 9-iron chip up seemed good but ran through the green and off the back. I putted on but forgot that there was a pot bunker on the other side. The fast green and downhill slope guaranteed that my shot would end up in the bunker. It took me three to get out (but at least I did this time!) and I still needed to putt on. Two more putts totalled 9 - on a par 3! A categoric blob.

The 16th was more straightforward, other than the wind, and I managed to get to a pitching position in 3. Unfortunately I shanked the 9-iron and needed another to get on. Two putts for another 7, and another blob.

The 17th was similar to the 16th, straight and level, the wind being the major factor. I managed a 6 this time for a nett par.

After two reasonable hybrid shots on the 18th I decided to lay up because of the little brook. My 9-iron was, however, far shorter than I wanted, leaving me with a choice to lay up again or go for the green over the brook. I went for it and the ball settled just off the green. A putt on and one more putt for 6 wasn't a bad way to finish. Another nett par.

It was obviously not a very low scoring round, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing the course. It was in superb condition, with high quality greens and well-maintained fairways. And, of course, the magnificent views all around. Wind is a feature of links' courses but I think we were a bit unlucky to choose a particularly windy day. I learnt quite a few lessons that I hope would serve me well if I were to play the course again. I'm showing the scorecard from Game Golf but bear in mind that I didn't hole out on the 4th.

Scorecard - 05 April 2017

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