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3 miles NW of Dundee
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On the outskirts of Dundee, lies Downfield Golf Club, a lovely parkland course little known outside Scotland. Paul Lawrie came through Open Qualifying here in 1999 and went on to win the Open at Carnoustie. Downfield also hosted the inaugural 1972 Scottish Open (sponsored by Sunbeam Electric), when England's Neil Coles won after a play-off with Wales’s Brian Huggett. Undoubtedly, Downfield is a gem and one of the most beautiful inland courses in Scotland, with more than 100 species of trees lining the manicured fairways.
A modest nine-hole course was laid out at Downfield at the turn of the century but the land was returned to agriculture during the First World War. The club was reformed in 1932 and the great James Braid laid out a new course. Houses now occupy most of the 1930s layout – only five original holes are incorporated into the course we play today, which was laid out by a Downfield Golf Club member with advice and guidance from C.K.Cotton.
Downfield represents a differing challenge, depending on which tees are used. From the back tees, the course measures more than 6,800 yards against a par of 73, but from the regular men’s tees, three par fives become testing, long par fours. There are six par fives for the ladies, against a par of 75. Water, in the shape of ditches and ponds, come into play on seven holes, adding to the obvious main hazard – the trees. The 11th though to the 13th are probably the best collection of holes. 11th and 13th are both tough par fours from the regular tees and the 12th is one of Gary Player’s favourite par threes, called “Davy Jones’s Locker”.
The 61st edition of the British PGA Matchplay was held here in 1974 then three years later the club hosted the Boys Amateur championship. More recently, the female golf teams from England won both the Women’s and Girls’ Home Internationals when the matches were staged at Downfield in 2019.
First off, I have to confess that I am a links lover, followed by heathland and then parkland etc. But I think Downfield is a cracking golf course which can hold its head high amongst the very best. It's a complete surprise to find a wonderful heavily wooded golf course alongside a fairly uninspiring housing estate. Once you are in the ground of the club, you really could be miles from anywhere. As previously mentioned, this is a BIG course with lots of variation and numerous long sweeping doglegs. It's not well known, but it should be, it's a challenging course and well worth playing...11th hole is one of the best inland holes I have played.
Parkland golf in Scotland is often overlooked in favour of links courses – which is easy to understand because there are so many good examples of the latter – but if Belleisle in Ayr can be regarded as the best public parkland course in Scotland, then Downfield in Dundee must surely rank as one of the best members' club inland course in the country.
What a layout awaits you just a couple of minutes from the main Kingsway running through Dundee. This place is like Texas, where everything is BIG! Huge clubhouse, large tee boxes, wide fairways, tall trees on every hole and enormous greens – the acreage of the course must be as vast as any of the Championship venues – it is easy to see why it is a qualifying course for Opens.
It's true to say that this venue does not receive the recognition that it deserves.