Playing winter golf is like a bag of Revels: you never know what you are going to get. We signed up for the Silloth GC Open Texas Scramble back in mid October when the weather was still unusually warm, hoping, rather than expecting that at the end of November it would be okay. Well we were rewarded for our optimism on Saturday!!
Fair play to the organisers at Silloth. Not many clubs would stage an Open event on a Saturday morning regardless of the time of year. £75 for a three person team encouraged us to make the 4 hour round trip to Cumbria. Money well spent. Silloth is a tremendous track but suffers slightly from being in a fairly remote spot in North West England. It is however well worth a visit and a full field of 19 teams meant for a great competition.
We were warmly welcomed by the Club Professional Simon Williamson on arrival, who gave us the lowdown on the rules of play for the day. The club had set up a live scoring system for the tournament with an easy to use app that also linked to a TV leaderboard in the clubhouse. Sitting having a coffee in the warmth of the lounge we could see that the early starters were making a great start in the benign conditions. Pars were not going to be good enough today!!
Silloth as a course starts with some very testing short par 4’s. Playing to hidden or raised greens from undulating fairways means that your wedge game must be on from the off to make a score. Steep run offs and sloping greens put the onus a sharp short game. The opening 9 holes are a great mix, played from within some vast dunes and overlooking the Solway Firth, it really is a treat. The short par 3 9th closes the front nine and this is probably the signature hole. Silloth’s version of the postage stamp is a cracker. At 129 yards it proves that length is not everything in course design.
The back nine gives you a chance to make a great score if you capitalise on the three par 5’s. We did not!!! All pars meant we were giving shots back to the field. After 4 birdies on the front 9 our momentum was gone, a bogey at the 15th put paid to a decent finish. The course finishes with a tough long par 4 of 427 yards and despite finding the green in regulation our birdie putts missed and the chance to close out in front of the clubhouse with a 3 was gone.
We retired to the clubhouse for our complimentary soup and sandwich lunch in the knowledge that we had got lucky with the sun and the lack of wind but knowing we had left a few out there. The winning teams score of -15.4 meant that a few missed putts would not have mattered.
Silloth was in great condition for the time of year. All you can ask of a golf course in November. A warm welcome from all of the staff including “Barry” the starter made the journey well worth the effort. We will be back in 2019!!
Silloth GC: A remote location but a brilliant links golf course.
Ratings: Course 4.0, Staff 5, Facilities 4.0
Price: £25 including Soup & Sandwich for Open event. Standard green fees £40-65