The layout of the holes is very interesting and the changes in elevation, on this established tree-lined property, are negotiated nicely.
The magnificently appointed gothic clubhouse, with practice putting green in front, is a grand spot to be on a hot summer's day and whenever I've played here in the Lee Westwood Trophy there has always been a good vibe around the place.
The course is not without its faults but the 18 holes at Rotherham rise and fall beautifully over springy turf and the greens ensure that the challenge is significant throughout. The putting surfaces on my most recent visit were quick, true and if you got above the hole it led to all kinds of trouble. Being able to play from the fairway is crucial because trying to hold the greens from the lush semi-rough is twice as difficult.
There are a number of short to medium-length par fours throughout the round but each requires you to shape the ball differently from the tee and into the greens. The downhill opener gives you margin for error on the first shot of the day whilst the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th don't disappoint. The first two of these however are the stronger holes of the quartet.
The only really long hole comes at the second where par is always a good score on this 400+ yarder played uphill with a large fairway bunker and ditch to avoid from the tee (as well as an overhanging tree 60-yards in front of the tee block). You can get some interesting stances for your second which makes your choice of shot important.
Both par fives, the downhill fourth and dog-leg 10th, are both reachable but well placed bunkers must be avoided on the approaches to set-up an eagle chance.
The quartet of par 3's are also strong holes. The third and ninth are played in opposite directions over the same valley whilst 14 crosses the impressive driveway running through the property and 16 works well on the hillside with a bunker very close to the right edge of the green.
Holes 10 through 12 firstly venture away from the clubhouse before returning in a small looping triangle. And it is these three holes where you should try and make your score. The 11th is reachable but if you wrong-side yourself par is not assured.
Hole 13 is arrow straight but has a sloping fairway whilst the 15th is a 90 degree dog-leg where the player can choose if he or she dares to risk cutting the corner. The drive on 17 is blind and rather uninspiring but the approach to the green quickly makes amends. The final hole isn't a great finisher and requires local knowledge as to which line to take from the tee.
The greens can be terrifying when quick as they slope quite a lot. They complement the relatively short nature of the course nicely and will often dictate your final score.
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.