I’d been hoping to play Silloth-on-Solway for some time as I’d heard loads of good things about the course. The chance arose when my son and I had a staycation in the Lake District and we organised a 10am tee time in early August. I hadn’t researched the course, massively, but I had heard it was a real purists dream, combining heathland and links terrain. First impressions, I thought it was typical of an old-fashioned tradition members club, relatively understated yet steeped in history and character. There was a clear air of sophistication about the place, but not arrogance. Head Pro Simon was extremely hospitable, giving a detailed description of the course and making us feel extremely welcome. The course surpassed all my expectations as not only was it a divine mix of my two favourite styles of course, it was a fine example of each. When I think of great heathland courses I generally think of those with elevation changes, variety of dog legs and natural hazards of penal heather that look beautiful but cost dearly. Silloth exemplifies this. Add to this the mountainous backdrop behind Southerness’ Scottish coast, as you glance over the Irish Sea, and you have a beautiful and entirely natural example of Britain’s finest golfing Links landscape.
There are so many incredible holes that have clearly been designed over a century ago, yet still stand the test of time. The par 5, 5th, is reminiscent of the 7th at Royal St Georges as it doglegs left then runs parallel to the cost line, with the added benefit of being able to see the sea from the tee. The par 3, 8th, is a perfect short hole at around 140 yards, again with the sea as backdrop, this heavily bunked short hole presents a devilish test when the wind blows. Another great par 3 is the 12, playing over 200 yards with a bunker short right to catch those who don’t commit.
It’s hard to find a weak hole but there are a few that people will find unfair. The par 5, 13th, was ‘unlucky 13’ for me, as after nailing a drive and hitting what I thought was a great second onto the green I realised when walking to the green why this was a par 5 with a yardage of just 470… it’s certainly a 3-shotter! The elevated green is impossible to hold with a long club, so a lay-up to pitching wedge distance is certainly the sensible play here. The strength of the par 3’s was something I really enjoyed here, the final of the four being the 16th. It’s a real test into the wind, a small target with bunkers left and right and a severe false front. You’ll mostly be required hit a solid tee shot to make par here.
For anyone who can find a way to get to Silloth-on-Solway you really must pull out the stops to get there. It’s not an easy place to get to and, once you have, you feel like there is a little feather in the cap for the chosen few!
Date: August 31, 2020