King James VI Golf Club – April 2016 It was a beautiful sunny day when I left the Isle of Arran on the first ferry. I drove north east for nearly two hours and it rained a little around Glasgow and when I arrived in Perth it was snowing.
I first thought I was imagining it and looked at the trees for blowing blossoms but no, it was snow. It was frigid when I got out of the car although the snow had stopped.
I ditched the excessive weight from my bag (22 balls, my 3w head, putter tool, sunscreen & cooler bag) and shouldered my bag heading to the railway bridge.
King James VI Golf Club can only be reached halfway across a railway bridge spanning the River Tay in Perth. Old Tom Morris was to thank for the design of this unique 18 hole course on Moncreiffe Island (that was built here nearly 120 years ago).
My hands were freezing and I needed to put another layer of clothes on (which I had in my bag) as it was very cold crossing the bridge – but it wasn’t snowing, not then anyway.
I got to the stairs halfway across the bridge and headed down to the golf club. I had noticed this sign last year on a walk with my friend Genna (who I am currently staying with) and decided I had to play this course.
Today I had the pleasure.
Two months ago this course was completely covered after floodwaters came through decimating the whole island. I cannot believe how well the course has bounced back as it is in great condition and for a parkland course, one of the driest I have played in the UK so far.
After stopping and having a golf chat with Tom on the way to the course I then met Dennis, the captain who was overseeing the replacement lockers to the dressing sheds that had been damaged in the flood.
We popped into the clubhouse for a chat over a cup of tea and were joined by Moira. They both had to sort out some golf business before we played so I caught up on some messages. I was sitting in the window watching the snow flurry outside as Moira popped by asking me if I was a fair-weather golfer.
I detected a wishful note but I told her the only thing I don’t play in is lightening.
We rugged up and headed out into the crisp spring day. I might have lasted half a hole before I was replacing my cap with my knitted beanie – my ears were happy.
It snowed on and off for the first few holes and every time I pulled out the camera the sun glistened and the snow stopped. I did get a bit on video but the photos show no snow whatsoever. It was only on the ground briefly on one green but melted not long after.
Both Moira and Dennis are long time members of the club and are heavily involved in the running of the place. After the flooding this club all came together with members spending hours on the course removing debris that had been dumped by the waters – a lot of turnips as it turned out.
This meant that the greens staff could focus on getting the course back playable in the quickest possible time and what a great job they have done.
I have seen the photos and cannot believe it is only months ago everything was underwater.
Dennis was throwing darts and chipping like a professional and Moira can certainly drive a good ball. I even had some moments of greatness today with some wonderful chips and my bunker work was awesome (if I do say so myself). Considering what it has been, awesome is certainly the word for what I did out of the bunkers today.
My driving wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible. Only once donating a spider to the waters of the river. In fact you don’t even notice you are playing on an island as the water doesn’t really come into play on many holes but you do always have to be aware of getting wet.
My club selection was pretty good today and while directionally challenged at times I was mostly pin high.
The greens have come back really well and I have seen the piles of debris that were removed and the 13th green had trailer loads of sand needing to be hauled away. Crazy!
It was very cold but on the back nine it warmed a little and while the snow might have stopped, it was quite windy. I played quite well (f0r me) and was happy to shoot 102 (4 over par after handicap).
I got a par on the front and back and while yesterday my number was six, today I started with three fives.
We had a great golf chat while we swung in the snow and when the sun stayed out it was delightful.
Post round, I interviewed my partners and heard a couple of great hole in one stories. Dennis having had ten he can’t even remember which holes he got them all on but it was the match play in the 70’s that was the best story.
Even after 16 holes, his opponent gets a hole in one on the 17th and smirks thinking he had it won – Dennis remarks he hasn’t played the hole yet and gets a hole in one himself and then goes on to win the 18th.
Not a bad way to win a match!
It was interesting talking about marketing strategies as this club is doing a lot with new membership options and learning programs for ladies and juniors.
Here is to growing the game!