Scone is a place steeped in the history of the Scottish nation, as the nearby Palace was for many years the seat of Parliaments and crowning place of Kings. Scone also housed the Stone of Destiny for nearly 500 years before it was taken to Westminster Abbey in 1296, only to be returned to Edinburgh, some 700 years later in 1996. Today, Scone Palace is the home of the Earls of Mansfield and a major Scottish visitor attraction.
A major Perthshire golfing attraction lies just a few miles away, to the north of Perth and the River Tay, in the shape of Murrayshall – 350 acres of rolling parkland with a 41-bedroom hotel complex boasting activities such as falconry, archery, fishing and two 18-hole golf courses.
The Lynedoch is the easier of the two courses on the estate, measuring 5,400 yards with a par of 69. The Murrayshall course, on the other hand, has tree-lined fairways, several water hazards, generously proportioned putting surfaces and, above all else, excellent conditioning from tee to green. Unusually, there are six par fives on the course which help it stretch the overall yardage to 6,441 yards with a par of 73.
There are two outstanding holes at Murrayshall, one on the outward and one on the inward half. The 7th, a 379-yard par four is unfortunately called “Dog’s Grave”, is a right hand dog-legged hole where the brave hearted golfer takes the line between the tree in the middle of the fairway and the out of bounds on the right for his or her tee shot. The approach must then carry a stream to an elevated green.
The closing hole is a wonderful 199-yard one-shotter named “The Fountain” where out of bounds lurks all the way down the left of the fairway. Missing on the right of the green will leave a very difficult second shot, probably from one of the two large bunkers placed there. Overshoot the green and you may find yourself in either sand or, worse still, in the stream that runs behind the hole.
Murrayshall (Murrayshall), so good they named it twice -- er, not quite. I’d heard the course was maybe worthy of five ball status but it came nowhere near that mark in my estimation. In fact, it was a really BIG disappointment after I’d played the other course, the Lynedoch, earlier in the day and absolutely loved it (even though I’d marked its 5th and 11th holes in my notes as “DAFT”).
The Murrayshall course also had a few crazy holes (the boomerang-shaped 9th springs to mind, as does the downhill 17th) but it was the insipid, uninspiring nature of the holes – par three 4th apart – that really left me cold.
I think Murrayshall’s a good place for a big society 36-hole day out where you’ll pay sensible prices; just don’t expect too much of the big course and be prepared to fall in love with its wee sister.