Caldwell House, built in 1771 by architect Robert Adam, was home to the Mure family until the early 20th century. It was converted into a hospital and then a home for young children before being sold for development in the mid-1980s but it has since fallen into serious disrepair.
Six years before the demise of the Mures in their big manor house, Major William Mure, the owner of the Caldwell Estate, allowed locals to rent part of the property for the purposes of establishing a golf course, and so Caldwell Golf Club was duly formed in 1903.
Willie Fernie, the professional at Troon, was tasked with laying out the fairways on a slender parcel of land extending to only ninety acres and for this he was paid the sum of one guinea. James Braid was subsequently engaged to upgrade the course in 1927 when he advised on modifying greens and installing additional bunkers.
More recent changes involved the resequencing of holes around the turn, between the 6th and 10th, and the introduction of a new par three hole at the 16th. Despite having only two par fives on the card, at holes 5 and 17, the course extends to a respectable 6,350 yards from the back markers.The 160-yard 3rd (“Risk an' Hope”) is a tough par three, with out of bounds on the right for the entire length of the hole as golfers aim for the long, narrow green. On the way home, the 279-yard 14th (“Libo View”) is a fine risk-reward short par four where golfers are as likely to score a bogey as a birdie.
Caldwell starts with an undistinguished par 4 (check out the webcam, by the way) but the next stretch offers four excellent holes. At 2, 3 and 4 a burn runs the full length of the hole on the left side of the fairway (bad news for those, like myself, whose shots tend to go left). The par 3rd is a delightful hole. At the 5th, by way of a change, the burn riuns down the right side. The middle section of the course does not reach the standards of early holes but there is a fine downhiller at the 9th. The highlights on the back nine start with the par three 16th over water followed by a lovely par five with a burn and majestic tall trees all down on the left. The closing hole provides an attractive shot down to the green nestling next to the pretty clubhouse. Caldwell is not well-known but you will not regret time spend here.
The opening six holes at Caldwell run steadily south from the clubhouse, across gently undulating terrain. The course then swings around, rising to the highest point on the property at the short par four 8th. Holes 8 to 10 run parallel to each other on the side of a hill, which isn’t the most thrilling of routings, but the downhill, left doglegged 11th ups the tempo a little. A burn runs across the fairway in front of the green (the same water hazard also fronts the green at the 4th and 16th) so extra care must be taken here with the approach shot.
I liked the heavily bunkered 13th, which almost shares its green with the 1st as only a narrow collar of rough separates the two putting surfaces. I also admired the unusual 2-tiered green on the 15th, with its left/right split, high on the left and low on the right.
A good tee shot from the blind tee position at the 18th leaves a long, downhill second shot into the home green, located to the left of the clubhouse and a birdie might just be possible here, even though it’s one of the longer par fours on the card. Caldwell’s a fine little moorland track but some may feel it punches above its weight with its current inclusion in the county Top 10 chart.