Apologies for the delay in writing up last week’s round.
We had a change of venue for this one, to the Came Down course situated on top of the ridge part-way between Weymouth and Dorchester. It proudly bills itself as the birthplace of the Ryder Cup, which I thought was a bit far-fetched, I had no knowledge of the Cup being played at the course and after checking it out that’s true. But as it turns out, the founder of the Cup, Samuel Ryder, regularly played at Came Down on his holidays to Weymouth. After discussions at Came Down he went on to suggest to other professionals a competition between Britain and America and the Cup was born. So it may be a tenuous link, but he played often at the course and took great interest in the running of it.
In some respects it doesn’t look like much has changed since then, very windswept it is obviously a little rough in places and the clubhouse looks on the face of it to have not changed in decades (although we didn’t venture inside). It is only when you start playing you realise how well maintained the course itself really is, and the quality of the greens speak for themselves. It is at the top of a hill on the coast, you can’t expect to find a pristine Augusta sitting there, this was more a St Andrews without the huge buildings. I like that. Neither of us had played on greens so fast, which was very impressive given the rain that had fallen that morning – the greens we usually play can get sodden after hours of rain, but not these.
The chap in the pro shop was friendly and helpful too, no stuffiness that you’d find at other what you might call ‘more pricey’ courses (and this was fairly pricey by our tame standards), even giving us a tip to avoid the big hole marked with an X on a stick to the right of the 17th fairway…. needless to say we both dropped into it.
It is an interesting one, half a mile longer than our usual course but only about 30 yards longer than West Bay. It is laid out on a slope and you start at the halfway point, heading downhill. This builds your confidence as you feel you can make the greens easily. Then after the 4th it turns and winds back up the hill with the 9th green alongside the clubhouse. Then you head upwards a little bit and find most of the back 9 is on the very top of the hill, the most windswept part. There are some amazing views of Dorchester up there, and at the 16th, Weymouth and Portland too. You get some idea from my phone camera.
It was quite tiring too, but the day before I had made the 7hr round trip to Donington Park where I’d walked just as far as the length of this course and in even stronger winds. I was tired even before leaving the house for this game. With having to wait for the rain to clear before we started – neither of us having any intention of getting soaked – I really wasn’t in the mood to play. We could see a break in the weather so stuck it out and it paid off, once we got on the course the mood lifted and I really got into it, it was a really enjoyable round!
Here is our card:
Date: 2nd May 2011.
Course: Came Down Golf Course, between Dorchester and Weymouth
Distance: 5903 yds (yellow tees).
Conditions: It had rained beforehand and there were a few spots on the way round, but largely dry. Very windy at times.
That wasn’t too bad given we’d never seen the place before and we’d been sitting around for an hour beforehand waiting for the weather. We were held up towards the end by some slow play, a group of 4 followed by a group of 3 will almost always play more slowly than a pair. That was a bit distracting.
I was very pleased to stay in single-digits on the front nine on a course I’d never seen, and only score one double-digit result on the back nine too. There were a lot of 8s and 9s though. Dad was pretty impressed at his scoring too, the front 9 total wouldn’t have been out of place on a course we know well! It finished up 108 to 131, a difference of 23 which on our personal handicap is a difference of 3, and a win for Dad. Both of us are confident we can knock a good 8-10 shots off those totals on our next visit – and there will be another visit.
Our overall impression of Came Down is simply a question: Why did we leave it so long to come here?
Finally, it was sad to see the death of Seve Ballesteros this past weekend. The man transcended his sport and was a real character. RIP Seve.