I was lucky enough to visit S&A on a trip to the open at Birkdale this year. As the 1st of 3 courses played on the fabled England's Golf Coast we were certainly treated to some wonderful golf.
After 3.5/4 hours in the car the welcome at S&A was excellent, it had a lovely feel for a members club, a bag store to prop up your clubs and a terrace overlooking the putting green and 1st tee.
The 1st piece of advice is to hit the range...I love a putting green, but with the 1st tee viewable from the clubhouse there is pressure from the off at 200+yds into a prevailing wind. A strong start, if not for me, its certainly a par 3 you want to play well with 9 bunkers to catch a shot not quite struck in the grooves.
What follows is a lovely mix of links fairways, heather, gorse and strategic bunkering. My favourite of the 1st few holes is the par 4 5th, a strong hole which is great from tee to green. The hole narrows where you want your drive, and still have a long iron in, it felt great walking off with a par.
If you are a strong driver of the ball you can score well round this course, but need to know your lines off the tees, there are a few dog-legs, but most of the shaping is subtle, with the line important on all of the 6th, 7th and 9th, 11th and 12th. If negotiated off the tee you still need strong approaches, but the tee shots are key, and set up a score especially on the par 5's.
Interspersed in these holes are some lovely par 3's all requiring strong iron shots. The 8th perches on a hill, with anything short leaving a difficult pitch over the crest. The 10th a well bunkered hole after filling up at the halfway hut, and the 13th my favourite with a well shaped and sloped green.
The run-in follows the trainline that separates S&A from Hillside, with accuracy and course management essential. Its a lovely run-in to a clubhouse backdrop, and you can just see a 'sunday finish' whether it be for a club champs, knock-out final or the Ryder Cup in the 30's.
Definitely one to return to on a group trip.
Date: August 03, 2017