When crossing the Erskine Bridge to attend my own nearby course I used to glance down with envious eyes at what appeared to be a spectacular new layout. I expected some kind of Weiskopf design that was going to transport me half way to Loch Lomond. The location and surroundings are ideal. The river, passing ferries, bridge, background mountains and grand old hotel all combine to create an appetising atmosphere for golf. Complimented with an extremely warm welcome and a helping hand to load our buggy. Nothing wrong so far. A very well conditioned practise green (albeit located within the shade of some enormous trees) that offers every conceivable form of putt and a decent practise range both continued to feed my expectation levels.
Then we get to the course itself where I am afraid that abject disappointment settles in with almost immediate effect. The condition of the 1st fairway is nothing short of embarrassing. There appears to be a significant amount of drainage works recently undertaken and perhaps the poorly kept ground in this area was a consequence of these works. Either way, considering the green fees, it is not good enough. A nicely designed hole spoiled. Moving to the 2nd, I would agree with the previous review that this is the best of the par 3’s. However, this isn’t much of a compliment as collectively they can be considered uninspiring and bland. A missed opportunity and major disappointment. The short 10th being the biggest of all. I thought the 3rd hole was the most exciting Tee shot on offer. A dog leg to the left falling towards the River with the Erskine Bride looming in the background. The optimum Tee shot demands a draw between two large trees about 150 yards away. If pulled of successfully you can expect a short downhill pitch but be careful not to overshoot the green or there is plenty of trouble to be found. I’m afraid that after this hole there is nothing memorable until the 11th. A classy par 4 considered the hardest on the course where accuracy is at a premium. That is it. Four memorable holes for the best part of £100. I’m left focusing on the negatives of which there are plenty.
The course is as rough as Tarzans feet in places. I’m presuming that this is down to teething problems and will be ironed out in time. Still.... There isn’t a bin or ball cleaner to be found on the back nine. The greens are covered in Debris in July. The course is noisy due to the wedding celebrations and calia in the background. Although the greens are immaculate they are soft and spongy and run slow. Although I want to be, I am not at all impressed with the course at all. The reality is that there is a heavy concentration of decent inland courses within a ten mile radius (Hilton Park, Windyhill, Renfrew and Ralston) of Mar Hall that offer a better days golfing and a more reasonable price. Mar Hall’s major problem is that there is nothing on offer (with the current package) to encourage repeat business and I genuinely fear for its longevity.
Date: July 09, 2010