Cruden Bay is charming in an old worldly way that as a lover of links I would recommend it be a staple of any visit to the Aberdeen area. A warm welcome was had from the pro shop team to the well informed general manager, Les Durno before a practice putt in what could well be the largest putting green I have ever three putted on. The course itself runs in a figure of eight with the first three holes playing away for the clubhouse and a relatively generous opening stretch of par fours.
The par 3 fourth stars a series of standout holes that would befit any championship links course. Played today at 195yds into the prevailing southerly wind my par three was enough to take the skin. The 5th has a semi blind tee shot but there is more room to the right half of the fairway than seem from the raised tee. The approach is firm and narrow to a slanting green; I was quite pleased with my bogey here! Par 5 sixth hole asks for you to find the fairway to ensure a good lay up yardage short of the burn - not a brook in these parts! A tricky approach to raised green with run offs aplenty makes this a well designed par 5. Continuing this great stretch of holes is the par 4 seventh which although not really a driver it did take me to to the corner of the dog before a tight uphill approach to a long narrow green. Great hole! The short par four 8th can yield a birdie given it's only 260yards but it can also deal out plenty of three putt bogeys as our group found.
The 9th hole is widely regarded as the weakest link at Cruden Bay however although I didn't see it in its former guise I thought the new look layout was more than ample way to finish a great front nine. The new tee is perched as far as the land will take you overlooking Cruden Bay offering up a generous fairway that is still taking time to seed it. The 10th is an intimidating tee shot with OB right and once the new fairway bunkers are placed it will be an even stiffer test off the tee. I loved the new run off short right of the par 3 eleventh before twelve which took us to the far corner of the course before turning for home. The 13th although the longest of the two par 5s at 575yds can give up birdies with the wind at your tail and providing you avoid the burn - not brook, remember! from the tee. Lots of bunkering await off the 14th tee before another blind approach to what can only be described as sunken bath tub green. Make that a large sunken bath tub green.
Back to back par 3s were a first for me, anywhere! but a pleasant surprise and no doubt these holes have turned many a matchplay game on their head. 17th calls for a drive past St Olafs Well which shouldn't come into play and approach to another raised green with a huge bunker front left that must be avoided at all costs. The par 4 18th has more internal OB, this really is a great matchplay course, and mid iron approach to what was a true treat of links golf. What would I change for my next visit? I would book caddie for a proper lay up yardage on the 6th and help on all the many other blind shots. It's a fun course with each hole different but there is a reason why it is well placed in the Top100, it is a classic links that can be enjoyed regardless of playing ability.
When you do go be sure to order up the generous portion of ham, egg & chips & seek out general manager Les who might even pour you a great pint of Guinness! The post round view with food & black stuff on the go ain't to shabby either.....
Date: May 12, 2015