Having opened the front 9 in 2007, I was one of the fortunate ones to get an opportunity to play it early on. Then the back 9 opened in 2008 and I was the luckiest man alive that day to follow Jack Nicklaus around to hear his design thoughts on the full 18 holes. He mentioned that the course had the potential to become one of his finest designs to date. In my view, I think it now has.
I played again just last week. The course has changed somewhat of late in play-ability terms. The first 3 or 4 years of the courses life, it was like an angry toddler - it was brutal. The rough was knee high and it was pretty tight. No wonder an "Irish-Drop" rule was introduced. Even so, the course was still a fun challenge back then, albeit expensive for the amount of re-loads required...! Fast forward to now, however, and the course has eased up and is maturing into a more mellow adolescent, and although the links style undulations still offer demands on all forms of shot-making, I discovered that they bring cattle in during the winter from the surrounding farmland. This is purely to manage the rough areas, the course superintendent tells me, and as a result, it was OK for me to be offline a little bit, and still find my ball. (If ever there is sustainable management model for a golf course this is it - The rough gets naturally cut, naturally fertilised and then grows back beautifully for the summer).
The playing areas are still immaculately presented - so much so that you can have a putt on the 1st tee-box if don't have time to have a practice on the putting green! But make time to experience the full pleasures of this incredible golf facility. It is certainly my favourite Nicklaus design to date. Having played it a few times, I am yet to play a single hole in even a close way to a previous way I'd played it. With that variety that the course offers, it creates a unique proposition, knowing that every time you go there, you have no idea what you'll walk off the course having just experienced!
And finally, the authority of golf course architectural peers think its pretty special too, as in 2013, Kinloch has ranked in the Top 100 in the World by Golf Course Architecture Magazine. This in no mean feat. Kinloch now sits alongside greats such as Pine Valley, Augusta National, Pebble Beach, The Old Course and of course another 95 amazing golf courses.
High praise indeed, so a must play (and if you are visiting the area, try to play it twice, as you'll not regret it).
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