Blairgowrie Golf Club is in the fortunate position of having three golf courses over which the members play – the 18-hole Rosemount and Lansdowne courses and the 9-hole Wee course.
When the club was formed in 1889, they played golf over 9 holes on the land close to Black Loch that belonged to the Dowager Marchioness of Lansdowne, from whom the course took its name. That course has since become the Wee course.
The Rosemount course came into being some years later and a number of golf course architects – including Dr Alister MacKenzie and James Braid – have been credited with its development into one of the top courses in Scotland.
That is not to say that the current Lansdowne course is in any way inferior to its sister course. Indeed, some commentators actually prefer the more modern 1970s design of Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas to the Rosemount as they feel it offers a more challenging test of golf!
Like the Rosemount course, the Lansdowne is routed through swathes of pine and silver birch trees which put a premium on accuracy off the tee. Many golfers will keep their driver in the bag throughout their round to ensure the ball is kept in play on the way to making a decent score.
For links golfers used to open, windswept courses around the coast, Blairgowrie is almost a surreal experience where every hole is played virtually in isolation as fairways are framed by banks of trees that block out the outside world – it is a wonderfully comforting, peaceful setting in which to indulge one’s golfing pursuits.
At 6,913 yards from the back tees, the Lansdowne is not short by any means. Nonetheless, seven of the twelve par four holes are under 400 yards and the three par threes are all under 150 yards so, once again, accuracy, not length, is the key to good figures on the scorecard.
It's no coincidence that Blairgowrie and Gleneagles are ensconsed in the upper echelons of inland Scottish golfing venues as they're blessed with the most sublime terrain over which to route a golf course – many around the world may try to replicate similar layouts but it's virtually impossible to reproduce what Nature has provided in these celebrated Perthshire landforms.
Day tickets are a marvelous idea when a club like Blairgowrie has two magnificent courses at your disposal – and with a clubhouse refurbishment in 2004 that cost over ₤1 million, you would be mad not to play both the Rosemount and Lansdowne and sample what the members are very fortunate to enjoy both on and off the course.
Five and a half years after I was last here, I returned to the Lansdowne this morning, courtesy of an invite from Golf Perthshire, which is doing a fine job these days of actively promoting golf in the Scottish Heartlands. The course was in terrific shape so early in the season - the wonderful springy turf of the fairways was an absolute joy to behold - so no complaints whatsoever on its presentation.
Checking my notes from today against what I wrote in August of 2009 and the three main points are very similar: three clusters of parallel fairways during the round isn’t the most imaginative way to route the holes (but no big deal with that slight criticism); the beautifully refurbished clubhouse is a fabulous top notch facility (in keeping with the national status of the club, of course); and the opening and closing holes are by far the best of the eighteen (somebody told me two of the Lansdowne holes used to be part of the Rosemount course and I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if it was them).
And because my group began at the 3rd hole on a shotgun start, we got to play the best two holes back to back near the very end of our round, which was a rather nice way to conclude proceedings.
Jim I can confirm that 1 and 18 used to be Rosemount holes but played in the opposite direction. There is still the outline of a tee in the rough on the 1st that played up to the current Lansdowne 18th green and the next tee played down what is now the 18th to the current 1st green. The members used to have to walk to what is now the Lansdowne 2nd hole to start their round, so the club rejigged the courses. 6 and 7 on Rosemount are the 2 holes that were taken from Lansdowne. These holes and currently undergoing redesign to make them more in keeping with Rosemount.
Holes 2, 3 and 4 run parallel to one another and all three have at least one front greenside bunker perfectly positioned to gobble up short approach shots. These opening holes, barring the first, are pretty tight and accuracy off the tee is important to leave a reasonable approach into the green and to avoid those troublesome bunkers. Next up is the 155 yard par 3 5th hole and again with its lighbulb shaped green and twin bunkers at the front the smart shot on this hole is to be long as all the trouble is at the front of the putting surface. The 6th sees a departure from the trees, partially at least, and precise bunkering around the green means that the drive should be on the left hand side of the fairway to offer the best possible angle into the small green - I found this to my cost when I blocked my tee shot right and had no sight of the green due to the trees at the back of the second green. Number seven is a slight right to left hole of 440 yards followed by a 501 yard par 5 making the approach to the turn particularly challenging. The 8th hole is made even longer due to a dip in the fairway and the threat of OB all the way up the right side preys on the golfer's mind during the hole. The last hole on the front nine is a slightly shorter version of the 5th hole although the green on the ninth is protected by fall off areas sloping around either side of the green, again placing an emphasis on accuracy.
The back nine opens with a generous, wide open hole - it's pretty straight so the golfer is able to reach for driver and open up their arms from the tee on this hole. The next hole is again quite straight but it's certainly no pushover and plays longer than the listed 370 yards off the yellows. Hole twelve runs parallel to the eleventh and is straight and bunker-free around the green. The sequence of straight holes ends at the dog leg 13th which is a nice hole - the green is narrow and with bunkers short of and at the green the approach must be hit with precision and length to avoid these hazards. I enjoyed the par three 14th which required a 160+ yard carry to the raised undulating green and had a couple of deep bunkers and a slope awaiting any tee shot not hitting the putting surface. The next two par fours (15th and 16th) are similar in length but whilst the 15th is a tight hole with danger in the form of trees to the right, the 16th is more open with a larger green so a birdie should be the aim here as the golfer gets a brief breather as they approach the end of their round. The respite of the 16th should be gratefully received as the par 5 17th is the longest hole on the course and in my opinion the toughest too! A sweeping dog leg left, this was definitely a three-shot par five for me and is a potential scorecard-wrecker.
The last was my favourite hole on the Lansdowne and was made all the more memorable for me when I managed to sink the winning put for par on the tiered green. The green cannot be seen from the tee and the drive must be launched over the edge of the hill and a deep gully right in front of the green must be flown to reach the putting surface - an excellent hole. Then after the round there was plenty of time to reminisce about our round in the impressive clubhouse where the facilities are first class. The bar area offered a great view of the sister Rosemount course and I am looking forward to returning to Blairgowrie to play the more highly rated of the two championship courses. The Lansdowne is a nice course and it has a few outstanding holes to compliment the remaining good ones. It certainly is a secluded area and the views of the Perthshire hills only add to the enjoyment of the round however I felt not enough of the holes were memorable enought to propel the Lansdowne to a five ball rating. Having said that, it easily achieves a solid four ball rating and I'd encourage anyone to make the trip to Blairgowrie to play here - I'm sure you'll find it's well worth it. DM
The challenge here is unrelenting, with good hole following good hole and, although there are no really outstanding holes of note (apart from the 1st and 18th due mainly to the relatively flat lie of the land), the course is of a sufficiently high quality to sustain a serious level of interest from start to finish. Not as tight as I was expecting so the driver came out of the bag on most tees (though it did cost me an inglorious 9 at the 3rd when I clattered into trees left off the tee then fluffed a few shots in my state of shock before getting anywhere near the green).
Presentation both on and off the course was first class and with the club offering very attractive tee time deals these days (which the likes of way over-priced Gleneagles could pay attention to) I’d say Blairgowrie now offers the best value top end inland 36-holes of golf in Scotland. Jim McCann
I played this course on a drizzly Sunday morning in September 2001 as the first half of a “double dunt” over the Lansdowne and Rosemount courses at Blairgowrie. Despite the fact that I’m not a great lover of parkland golf, I was impressed by the layout and presentation of the course and the feeling of isolation on each tree-lined hole.
With a decent Stableford score, I managed to scoop the pool from the other five members of our two three ball party (not that the sum of money involved in any way threatened my amateur status!) so maybe the fact that I played well helped to form a favourable opinion of the Lansdowne?
The clubhouse has since been refurbished at considerable cost and I note from the club’s website that they have substantially modified their prices (with some great special offers) so a day ticket for both 18-hole courses at Blairgowrie is actually cheaper now than it was seven years ago (when it was overpriced) so it might just be time to venture into the Perthshire hills again.