Back in the early 1920s, the Colville family chose to develop part of the Jerviston Estate in Motherwell into a golf course for their workers in the Dalzell Iron and Steel Works. This sporting amenity was to complement the tennis, bowling and football facilities that already existed for the employees within the estate. And so, in 1923, a 9-hole course opened for play.
According to the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses by John F. Moreton & Iain Cumming, it was decided almost immediately to double the size of the layout: “In March 1924 work was starting on the next nine, with the intention of making the course open to the public… But not all was well… Not for the first time Braid was called in to sort out problems not of his making.”
The authors continue: “A full report followed. An article in the local paper revealed details – new tees for every hole, fairways improved, a new system of drainage, a filling in of burns which crossed fairways, and a number (unspecified) of new greens. The course now measured 6014 yards, and each hole had its own name. Braid returned to add a total of ninety-one bunkers in 1929 and these were completed… on 4th April 1931”.
Today, the course measures just over 6,300 yards, with par set at 71. The opening tee shot is played downhill to the par three 1st hole, over what used to be a pond, to a two-tiered green that tilts from left to right, with out of bounds located to the right and beyond the putting surface. Risk/reward short par fours at holes 5 and 15 might offer the chance of a birdie, as might back to back par fives at the 12th and 13th.The final par three, the 187-yard “Carbarns,” arrives at the penultimate hole, playing downhill from an elevated tee position to a wide, shallow green that is protected short left and on the right by bunkers. Out of bounds runs down the left and to the rear of the hole but it shouldn’t really come into the reckoning. The ground running away steeply to the right and beyond the green is of more concern as it offers little chance of playing a successful recovery shot.
I played here in a Gents Open three years ago and felt it was a decent test of golf, even if the routing was rather bland, with most of the holes running in a northwest-southeast direction or vice versa. The first eight holes are set out on one side of a disused railway line, with the remaining fairways located on higher ground on the other side of the old tracks.
The road into the clubhouse separates holes 1 to 8 into two sections, 1 to 5 then 6 to 8, and the fairways run strictly parallel to the tarmac. Once you cross the bridge over the railway cutting, the rather repetitive routing continues on the other side, but at least you’ll find more contoured ground on the back nine, allowing an uphill par three to be negotiated at the 10th and a downhill par three at the 17th.
The 11th and 13th play in opposite directions but their greens are almost shared, sitting side by side on the gently sloping hillside.
The short par four 15th is probably the best hole on the course, played across a small, grassy gully to a domed green on the other side. Some may feel the current regional ranking for this course is a little generous and, having played eight of the other nine courses in the chart, I’d be inclined to agree with such an assertion.
Nevertheless, if you like your parkland golf to be straightforward and uncomplicated then Colville Park may well be just the track to suit your game.