Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cruden Bay Photoshoot - Day 2

The bar at the White Horse Inn, Balmedie.
A 5am start is bad enough without the hotel fire alarm going off at 1.30am.

We all sulked out of our rooms, muttering and then we waited for the fire brigade. At least they were quick (15 minutes) and in and out in another five. The lead fireman was none too pleased with the resident of the offending room.

"Were you smoking in your room?" he asked.

The guy took the cigarette from his mouth. "Me? Never!"
Slains Castle
Sunrise was spectacular, rising behind Slains Castle, where Bram Stoker's Dracula was conceived and after the lost light of the previous evening there was more than enough sun to go round. Photography, as any landscape photographer will tell you, is about the "golden hour" - the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. On a links like Cruden Bay, you're chasing the shadows and shapes of the links fairways and the dunes around the greens.
The view of the 18th green from the Starter's Hut.
Views over the 12th, across the course to the beach and the high dune
which is home to the 9th hole.
After the morning was done, it was time to play golf. Ru MacDonald - the man behind ScottishGolfPodcast (among other golfing ventures) and a member of Cruden Bay had agreed to take me to Fraserburgh Golf Club, to the north. He took me the tourist route, pointing out derelict railway bridges and giving me some history to the area. And this part of Scotland is rich in it.  Fraserburgh is the largest shellfish port in Europe, Peterhead has the Victorian age running through its streets... and Fraserburgh Golf Club is the 7th oldest club in the world (1777), and the oldest to use its original club name.
The green front on Fraserburgh's par three 17th hole.
Fraserburgh Links lives with one very distinctive reputation: the opening two holes are exceptionally dull... pretty much everything else is brilliant. Enormous and largely untouched dunes separate the course from the sea but this is a course of Old Tom Morris and James Braid so minimal earth-moving was required... hence why the big dunes were left alone. Now, they are there to be salivated over along with thoughts of 'what if...'

Here's Ru, taking a video of himself playing the 7th

It's natural, unfussy, no pretensions... real. The greens are sweet (and devilishly tricky in places) and the 13th is credited as inspiring Gil Hanse for the Rio Olympic course. It's a rollicking, bumpy hole and eminently drivable. The green is straight out of the Whacky Races and all the better for it.

How good is the course... well, it's a 4 ball course. As in I lost 4 of them. If you don't stay on the fairway, kiss your balls goodbye. The rough here takes no prisoners.

The evening photography session proved highly unsuccessful... hanging around for two and a half hours watching a cloud bank refuse to budge was optimism-sapping! I even waited till the moon came up... at which point the photography opportunities multiplied. Here's a view over the 18th green - at 9pm.

Moon over 18 at Cruden Bay.
If you ever get a chance to play this course, do it. It's a beauty from start to finish and you can combine it with Royal Aberdeen, Murcar Links, Trump Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. That's some golf trip.

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