Alyth, in the Vale of Strathmore, is a little off the main Scottish golfing tracks, but is well worth the deviation away from other more well known courses. Alyth Golf Club was formed over a hundred years ago, in 1894 to be precise. Their original 9-hole layout was designed by no greater an architect than Old Tom Morris and, forty years later, when land became available to extend to a full 18 holes, another golfing great, James Braid, was the man who carried out the work.
Many of the holes are tree lined and beautifully routed over rolling heathland that brings great pleasure with each and every subtle change in elevation as the round progresses. There is also the odd blind shot here and there and a horse shaped green to be putted on at one of the holes. Throw in doglegs, integral fairway bunkers, burns and out of bounds at five of the holes on the course and you will find plenty of interesting challenges at Alyth.
An old fashioned favourite – the short par four – is found at the 255-yard 8th hole, named “Heathery Muir.” It is followed by a demanding trio of holes, starting with the 456-yard, par four 9th, called “Balloch” where trouble, in the form of trees and scrub, lurks either side of the fairway from tee to green. The 436-yard 10th hole, entitled “Kilpurnie” is played to a green that – after a blind tee shot – lies uphill, seemingly a long way away from the landing area! This tough section ends with one of the two par fives on the card, the 504-yard, 11th named “Loyal” where straight shots from tee to green are essential.
The feature hole at Alyth, however, is the 5th called “The Brig”, a 353-yard par four with out of bounds down the right, where there may be no bunkers to penalize errant shots but there is more than enough water to make up for the lack of sand. First of all, there is a lateral ditch across the fairway to catch a topped tee shot and then another trench crosses further along, before the elevated green. If ever a hole invited golfers to plot their way to a par, it is this one!
As the 18-holes at Alyth lie less than a mile from Glenisla’s golf course, it make sense to play both tracks if you’re in the area - especially if you’ve travelled a couple of hours to get here – and that’s exactly what our fourball did today, playing at Glenisla in the morning then Alyth in the afternoon.
Glenisla’s a really fun course with a great short par four at the 4th hole and a terrific closing par four at the 18th but there’s a definite step up in class when moving across the road to take on the old established Alyth course.
The par fourth 5th is easily the best hole on the card, where the slightly doglegged fairway (which is crossed by couple of burns) leads to a raised green that slopes from back right to front left.
The front nine feels a little constricted at times and at one point, there are a couple of greens and two sets of tees all within a short distance of each other in a corner of the property, causing all sorts of potential etiquette problems in terms of who should be putting or driving next. In contrast, the back nine is more expansive, with wide tree-lined avenues playing to handsomely proportioned greens, all of which gives these holes a more mature feel to them.
I’d been advised to play here some time ago by somebody who’s played a lot more Scottish courses than me and I’m really glad now that I acted on his recommendation. Well worth checking out, especially if you can snap up a deal via one of the online tee time websites.