Gowrie Farm course — a little gem in the Midlands

2013-05-17 00:00

THE June issue of the magazine American Golf Digest lists the latest rankings of the top “short” golf courses in the world.

It lists the top courses in each American state, the top private courses, the top public courses and the top courses outside the USA. The last mentioned is the subject of this column. In fourth position is Gowrie Farm in Nottingham Road in the Midlands. This indicates to its readers that it’s the best nine-hole course in South Africa.

In the U.S., any course with fewer than 18 holes is referred to as a “short” course and playable in two hours or less. We in South Africa don’t use this expression; we call it a “nine-hole course” even if there are 10, 11 or 12 greens.

There are some wonderful nine-hole courses in this country, but no golfer who has played there would begrudge Gowrie of this latest world ranking. It’s a remarkable achievement because the course only opened officially in 2007. The fairways and tees are grassed with kikuyu and the greens and surrounds with bent grass. This condition of the course is nothing short of immaculate. It was designed by local lawyer-golfer Guy Smith who wanted to replicate the style of a British links course. He succeeded in this and at times when one reaches a higher part of the course, one expects to see the North Sea in the distance.

It is always a pleasure to play Gowrie and this is a good time of the year to do so. An early morning tee-off time will ensure a “fresh” temperature and you are almost guaranteed glorious sunshine and cloudless blue skies. As the round progresses, you will find yourself peeling off the winter woolies.

Golf purists enjoy the course with playing the ball as it lies and the fact that it is a walking course (although there are a couple of ride-on carts available).

There is a touch of ingenuity in the layout on the second nine. In some cases, you will be convinced that you are playing to a completely different green because it is played from another direction.

Word gets around in the golfing world when a golf course as good as Gowrie appears. It’s the little gem in the Midlands and congratulations are due to Guy Smith and the Gowrie Club for the world ranking.

From the 19th hole:

The Montana State Department of Fish and Wildlife is advising golfers to take extra precautions and be on the alert for bears while playing National Forests golf courses.

They advise golfers to wear noise-producing devices such as little bells on their clothing to alert but not startle the bears. They also advise you to carry pepper spray in case of an encounter with a bear.

It’s also advisable to be on the lookout for bear activity. Golfers should be able to recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings on the golf course. Black bear droppings are smaller and contain berries and possibly squirrel fur. Grizzly bear droppings have little bells in them and smell like pepper spray.

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