I’ve arrived back in England and eager to play a round before the Easter break before the inevitable onslaught of chocolate. There is a great site called teeofftimes.co.uk that acts as a sort of last minute golf deals. Here we found an opportunity to play at Sand Martins which is about a 5 minute drive. Played the course about 15 years ago so keen to see if the memory holds up. Weather wasn’t great though it will probably be a lot worse in Scotland next week.
Sand Martins opened in 1993 with both nines starting and finishing at the clubhouse and both with distinctive feels. The first nine is classic parkland golf while the second contains dunes and is the more interesting. It looks like the owners are trying to create a links feel here with several new pot bunkers being built when we played. Makes for an interesting dichotomy.
The first couple of holes are gentle doglegs requiring only a mid-iron from the tee. Better golfers can cut the corner on both with adequate risk reward on offer here. The following holes are a fairly bland up and down fare until the interesting par 3 8th. Bunkers protect the long green and the ideal shot here is a draw over the right bunker. The 9th is a mid-length par 4 which requires an accurate tee shot to open up the green otherwise approach will be severely hindered. I think this is the strongest hole on the opening nine.
The second nine opens with a longish open par 4 where the first of the dunes come into play. Okay it’s not exactly what you would get at the National or Barnbougle but misplaced shots here will be penalised. There are three good Par 3 holes on the second nine, first is the short 12th which requires only a wedge. Several pot bunkers are being built on this hole which will make the shot more interesting when built. The 14th is SI18 and another short par 3, wind was a factor here when we played. The last of the Par 3s is the 17th and the most interesting of the bunch with a large lake protecting the green. Wind again a factor, the safe play is to attack the left of the green. I went for the pin and was appropriately punished, a great one shot hole though. Other notable holes include the 15th rightly called ‘Deception’. There is a hidden valley which is very reachable from the tee making the second shot harder, safer play is to lay up making the second shot easier. Strongest hole on the course is the Par 5 16th aptly named ‘Sand Martins’, guessing this is the signature hole. Large dunes protect the fairway and accuracy again paramount here or the second shot is incredibly tough. Even with a good drive the second shot is tough with a lot of water hazards coming into play. I scraped a bogey on the day after a poor tee shot. The last is another Par 5 played towards the clubhouse, the green is nicely framed by large pine trees and a pleasant way to finish.
Overall, I rate the course. The tee boxes weren’t in the best of shape but the greens ran true and the fairways in pretty good condition. Will be interesting to see the course post the new bunkering. Course is relatively easy with only a few holes severely penalising wayward shots but most importantly is a lot of fun.
Best Hole – 17th
Hardest Hole – 16th