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Blairgowrie

Yardage
6689
Par
72
SSS
72
Built
1889/1930
Architect(s)
Alister McKenzie, James Braid
Nature:
McKenzie/Braid flatish running heathland with heather through pine/birch forest.
Location/Address:
South of Blaigowrie off the A93 to Perth.
https://www.theblairgowriegolfclub.co.uk/index.php
Secretary
Steven Morgan
Telephone
01250 872 622
Professional
Charles Dernie
Green Keeper
Brian Scott
Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,
Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,
Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,
Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,
Access Policy:
Visitors welcome
Dog Policy:
No dogs
Open Meetings:
Scratch Cup - June
Fees in 1960s
37p
Fees today
£95 -2019

Review

Blairgowrie Rosemount sits with Ladybank, Boat of Garten, the moorland course of Lanark and Gleneagles Kings & Queens courses as one of the finest running inland courses in Scotland. Some might argue, perhaps, because of its sumptuous and beautiful clubhouse, that it is the leading inland members’ club in Scotland.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

Clubhouse from first fairway

The original nine hole course, designed by the members, opened in 1889 and pleasingly remains largely unchanged today as the Wee course (2373 yards, with four par threes).

Aerial showing Rosemount and the Wee (in foreground) either side of the Black Loch.

The members may have been determined in their resistance to change over the years but still had the good sense to engage two of the finest Scottish course architects to create a new eighteen hole course.
Dr Alister Mackenzie first drew up plans in 1914 and eventually his course was opened in 1927. In the early 1930s James Braid (five times Open Champion and the pro at Romford and Walton Heath was Scotland’s most prolific and highly respected course architect) devised a new layout which became the ‘Rosemount’ course (6689 yards, par 72, SSS 72) incorporating some of Mackenzie’s holes, for example, the classic two-tier green, par-three, seventeenth hole.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

Alister McKenzie’s 17th

In the 1970s another eighteen hole course (7007 yards, par 72, SSS 73), named after the original owner of the land the Dowager Marchioness of Lansdowne, was designed by Dave Thomas and Peter Alliss who is quoted as saying: “the place just oozes charm and class”.

Unfortunately two of the Rosemount holes were taken away as they were required for the first and eighteenth holes of the Lansdowne to create a connection to the clubhouse. When I played both courses at the end of the seventies I remember thinking how much finer these two holes were than the rest of the Lansdowne course that was driven tightly through trees.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

Campbell and David

When I played Rosemount two years ago with the Chair of Green, he clearly had an open approach and welcomed comment on how the Club might further support the greenkeepers to the benefit of the course, that is on alluvial soil substantially gravel and drains fast but does suffer from overnight frost pockets.

Two new holes were added to Rosemount, the par three sixth (‘Firs’) and seventh (‘Carsie’), and they have both had new greens laid recently using perennial fescue/browntop bent turf. The seventh, perhaps being more shaded and fescues hate shade, the fescues were more numerous on the sixth.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

The par three fifteenth ‘Wee Dunt’.

The other Rosemount greens were a mix of predominantly annual meadow weed grass (Poa annua) and browntop bent, while it is interesting that the Club two years on now claim their Rosemount greens are roughly a 50/50 mix of Browntop Bent and fescues. It is most encouraging to hear that the Club is so committed to the fine grasses route and in a modern era of when ever more courses are using ‘Conservationist Greenkeeping’ of low inputs of water, fertiliser and pesticides, Blairgowrie Rosemount is giving a lead.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

The twelfth green.

One problem with this fine grasses objective is that the Rosemount course is also surrounded by trees and though many of the fairways have heather roughs and the trees do not encroach as much as on the Lansdowne, nevertheless as they have grown the airflow has reduced. It is again encouraging that a policy, I am told, is now in place to introduce more air and light around the courses and particularly around the tees and greens, in conjunction with the  removal of broom and other spurious growth while protecting the heather.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

A ninth hole bunker

The course, apart from the two early and the four last holes, is on flattish ground and many of the large greens are at the same elevation as the fairway without run-offs. A collar of lush semi-rough (of ryegrass in places) had been left, as per a parkland, around the three sides of the greens. This encourages wedge play rather than the bump-and-run shot, though some of the flat aprons have sufficient firmness for the running approach, their firmness I am assured helped by verticutting them.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

The first hole.

The course opens with one of its finest holes (‘Black Tree’) 450 yards of a snaking two-tier fairway to a new raised green designed by Donald Steel a member of FineGolf’s Advisory Panel.

There are five par fours of less than 375 yards off the white tees and three of the four par fives are less than 520 yards so this course is much more about finding the right position than just slogging the ball as far as one is able. The classic James Braid bunkering as would be expected is strategic rather than penal and is more likely to catch the scratchman’s ‘not quite perfect’ shot rather than the foosled high-handicapper’s, making this an enjoyable course for all levels of player.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

The tenth

If one is accurate with one’s striking there are birdies to be had particularly around the middle of the course as one wends back and forth among the trees and heather, quite secluded from other holes.

The second (‘Woodfold Dell’) is 340 yards and the easiest approach is from the left of the fairway which is nevertheless more difficult to find when driving from a tee which is psychologically confusing as one feels more comfortable up the right.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

The long, flat par three third hole.

The four short holes are all very different in direction, length and character. The first of these the third hole (‘Stormont’) is flat and 220 yards. The seventeenth (‘Plateau’), already mentioned, is 163 yards across a burn to a two-tier green set into a bank.

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

The drive at the sixteenth

The fifteenth (‘Wee Dunt’), as its name suggests, is only 130 yards to a deeply and tightly bunkered small green in a dell close to the Black Loch across which the sixteenth (‘Black Loch’) is played up and over a rise to the fairway. There are trees blocking one’s long second shot if your ball has strayed too far to the right. This is a very fine long par four, stroke index one, and raises the spirits if the green is achieved in regulation though I note that the pro’s tip on the club website is “definitely a ‘safety first’ hole. A five is never a bad score here”. Too true but surely by the sixteenth one’s game should be flowing well to have an attempt for the stars!

Blairgowrie golf club, James Braid, Alister McKenzie, Greg Norman,

The clubhouse from the 18th fairway.

We finish with a lovely dogleg (‘Mount Blair’) with a large beech tree on the corner 275 yards out. Your drive is ideally sent out to the left where a crest in the fairway allows one to open up the vista to the well bunkered green lying under the front of the magnificent clubhouse and terrace.

This club is situated in beautiful well wooded up-country Perthshire and has been host to many amateur and the odd professional tournament. Greg Norman won his first European tournament ‘The Martini’ here in 1977 in an age when the professionals were still playing their tournaments on the classic running heathlands, before under the influence of television they moved to the hotel/conurbation ‘target-golf’ courses managed with ‘chemical greenkeeping’, apart from The R&A run Open Championship courses whose ‘running-golf’ agronomy was protected by Jim Arthur.

These knowledgeable Scots at Blairgowrie know they have a winning design in Rosemount and as they continue the progress back to firmness and running-golf with perennial fine grasses while opening-up and drying-out the course with greater light and air flow, I wonder whether rather than being a ‘perhaps’ it could become a ‘certaintanty’ that Blairgowrie Rosemount was the finest running inland members course in Scotland?

Reader Comments

On April 25th, 2019 Jack Dezieck said:

I first played Blairgowrie on a weekend in September of 1974. We were two fourballs of yanks on a busy course screwing up every other golfer’s day. Although I remember much of the course and an enjoyable round what I recall the most was the one armed bandit in the bar. I was enjoying a pint while two women, having played golf were feeding the machine. Winless, they left and I went up and put 50 pence in the machine and hit the jackpot! fifty pence pieces never stopped coming. I don’t believe there were pound coins then (?). Boy were the two women unhappy until I took all the winnings less my 50 pence investment and put it on the bar for all to drink up! They were then my best friends.

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