Ladybank Golf Club – May 2017 Yesterday I had the pleasure of catching up with fellow foodie and golfer David Gray who is the Head Greenskeeper at Ladybank Golf Club.
I met and golfed with David last year at the BIGGA Central Section spring event at Aberdour and he told me to look him up when I got to Scotland this year.
As he was eating his way around Italy when the event was on this year, I headed to Ladybank to tee it up with him there.
Upon arrival I met with Gregor in the pro shop and we had an in depth discussion about junior golf in this area and what I have seen in other parts of the world as I’ve travelled.
Gregor has been working hard on growing a junior program and as I said to him – change the conversation and do things differently. Be a trailblazer, get people coming to you to find out how to run a successful program but more importantly just do it. Don’t wait for people or money, just get in and do it and it will all fall into place.
Think outside the box and have faith in your passion. That is what I am doing with Fairways and while it is mostly my money I have put up, we have fundraisers and other ideas on how to ensure the 20 juniors we have around the world can continue golfing.
My philosophy is; don’t wait – just do.
It seems to be working for me.
Ladybank (home of the red squirrel – although we didn’t see any) is a heathland course. I must say I was very pleased when I realised I could have a 3rd category of favourite Scottish golf courses, links, parkland and heathland.
It was also a favourite of the late Seve Ballesteros as he and Jack Nicklaus flew there via helicopter for an exhibition match in the 80’s when they couldn’t play at St Andrews.
Ladybank is the 29th course I have played in Scotland (I only know because Dave asked me and I checked my website during the round and counted) and the 120th course I have played around the world since I started golfing in July 2014.
In the last 6 weeks I have played 23 rounds of golf at 21 different golf clubs and have driven over 5000 miles.
No wonder I am tired.
When I told people my golf schedule and that Ladybank was on the list, the constant response was, it is very narrow. I didn’t find that at all and while yes the rough wasn’t in full growth and the heather can make it tricky, I have played lots of courses with holes that are narrower. However coming from a links course where it is the ocean, burns and gorse being your hazard, I can see that having fairways lined with trees can make the course very narrow.
Considering April has been the driest April in Scotland on record (so the BBC radio informed me yesterday) the course is hard and could do with a nice rain but that did mean there was a little more run. You did have to take this into account and try and play short and let the ball run. Dave kept saying he was hitting his ball to land soft – way too advanced for my golf which is more along the lines of hit it and hope for the best.
I started well with a very easy par. Nothing to this game. Just get the ball into the hole.
Dave went OB on the 2nd and I only just managed to beat him and I believe the first two holes were the only holes I won. Not that we were playing for anything other than pleasure, a golf chat and of course to talk about the amazing food we have eaten in our travels and what we have made ourselves.
I also ensured we had good golf snacks which Dave recalled from our round last year.
The course runs in and around and back on itself and you end up seeing quite a few different groups out there which I quite liked. I wouldn’t have seen an awesome pair of green and white pants if not.
David Simpson (seems everyone I know is David) from Crieff gave me two Vokey wedges, a 58 and a 54, to travel the world with and I used them for every shot possible as I was just testing different things. I can’t wait to get back to Canada on the range to practice more with them.
My chipping was the best part of my game yesterday and I impressed myself with what was coming off the Vokey’s. The sand didn’t own me at all – one of the first courses where it hasn’t on this Scottish adventure.
My driving was quite good and I am happy with what comes off my driver but I am still trying to stop the over swing with other clubs which Peter at Dunbar pointed out earlier this week. I already know this as does Dave – another one – my golf coach in Canada, who said last year we would look at it in 2017.
As I was conscious of it, I was trying to adjust it mid round which doesn’t work. I need time on the range to grind it out.
David was throwing darts out there and pin hunting well and while he said he hadn’t played much it certainly didn’t show. There were a couple wayward shots but it is all about the recovery and boy did he recover well.
I love chatting to different people about golf, their golf story and playing with green keepers predominately this time in Scotland has been enlightening. They are always assessing their work and planning for what the boys (only boys on the green staff at this club) need to work on the next day.
Ladybank has a thriving membership and I can see why it recently won an award for one of the best courses in the UK for under £100.
I didn’t have many bad shots and had some great shots but my putter wasn’t really working. I am used to dropping long putts not just getting it close but yesterday I only dropped a couple of longer ones. By the end of the round Dave had changed his putting grip and was nailing putt after putt into the back of the cup.
By the end of the round I was exhausted and was happy to sit and have some post round soup and tee before heading off again.
While my round finished quite poorly -my bag felt like a small honda on my back – I had a wonderful afternoon talking food, golf and Fairways and look forward to seeing Dave and catching up again next year.