It is the course where I learnt to play the game as a junior and I was a member here for a number of years. It is the course I have played more times than any other. We are talking hundreds, if not thousands, of rounds.
The problem is I know all its dirty little secrets, things that the occasional or one-off golfer would easily miss. I also know of its brilliant subtleties and nuances that the same player would also not see and therefore be able to appreciate. I could write pages and pages but will try to keep my comments as concise as possible.
Many people's first impression of 'The Pinnacle' is that it is a very hilly course. To a large extent this is true and many will indeed be gasping for oxygen by the time they reach the third tee. However, apart from the first two holes and the climb from the eighth tee to the fairway, dubbed 'cardiac hill' for obvious reasons, the remainder of the course is actually relatively easy walking.
The lower part of the course is parkland in nature whilst there is a more moorland feel to a couple of the holes on the higher part of the course, the 13th being the best example of this. You descend back to the lower section by way of the notorious 14th where a tee shot from up in the clouds is played to a green at the bottom of the hill, potentially via a plateau halfway to the green. It's a daunting tee-shot but if executed well is very rewarding.
There's a nice mix of holes at Dewsbury with four par three's ranging from a flick with a wedge to potentially a fairway metal at the uphill 16th. The fifth is a sweeping par five that can rarely be reached in two due to the secluded nature of the green whilst the 10th and 11th, also par fives, run in opposite directions therefore if one is downwind the other is into it. The fours also range in length from the driveable 15th at a shade over 300 yards to the 440 yard third. Incidentally both of these vie for the title of being the best hole on the course.
The third, played from a high tee, doesn't usually play its yardage but with two ponds to avoid from the tee and a bridle path to cross close to the green it usually requires two well executed shots to find the heart of the putting surface.
The 15th is a real risk-reward hole with a green tucked away around the corner, surrounded by trees on three sides and fronted by a small water hazard. It also comes at a time in the round where you often know if you need to attack the course or not and is the perfect foil for the more difficult 16th that follows. It's an eagle opportunity for some but at the same time a possible card-wrecker.
The 17th is also worthy candidate for best hole on the course with a heroic drive across some tall trees. The more you bite off the closer you will be to the green but if you don't make the carry you could be in all kinds of trouble and there's even the threat of out-of-bounds to the left. A small pond close to the left of the green will prey on the mind of golfers playing their approach as the lie of the land will kick anything short of the green towards it.
A special mention should be reserved for the unique nature of the ninth green, located to the edge of the course, with its many swales and hollows which ensure some interesting putts. Indeed there are some really good internal contours on many of the greens; apart from the the aforementioned ninth the first, eighth, 15th and 18th have some lovely borrows.
What about the dirty little secrets I hear you ask?! Well, I'm not going to spill the beans here but will give you just one example. Most players won't notice the difference in the greens but the first and third, which play the same, are different to those at the second, fourth, seventh, 12th, part of the 13th, 15th and 16th which were laid at a different times. And these are different to those at the fifth, sixth and 17th. The eighth and 14th tend to play similar to the first and third as do the ninth, 10th, 11th and part of the 13th although because the last four are on higher ground they are often much firmer in the summer. The 18th plays different to all the others! As I said most people will not even notice this but the difference in putting surfaces and therefore the speed is there for the observant.
When Dewsbury is at its best, usually June through August, it is normally in very good condition and fortunately this is when most of the open events are played here. It's also worth noting it has one of the best stocked pro-shops in the region with an impressive selection of clothing and equipment.
There is something about Elie that puts you under a spell. It is a truly magical links that, after just one round, has won a place in my heart and mind forever.
There’s very little that hasn’t been written about the golfing mecca that is St. Andrews.