#11: Peebles Golf Club: Crown of the Town!
Friendly, fabulous and fun are the best words to describe Peebles Golf Club, on the course, in the clubhouse and from its lovely members. We arrived late on Saturday afternoon, without a pre-booked tee time and with the clouds darkening overhead. We really were not sure what we were going to find. But it was an unexpectedly warm welcome to an unexpectedly brilliant golf course....
We had chosen Peebles as it was not too far and it had been highly recommended earlier in the year by the Secretary at Torwoodlee. It's a spectacular course overlooking the quaint and picturesque town.
We checked in at the Pro Shop and met their Head Professional himself, Steve Johnston. Pictured here,
Steve is also recognisable from his regular feature in Bunkered Magazine giving coaching advice and helpful tips. It is easy to see why: he is hugely enthusiastic and charismatic.
When we asked what makes Peebles Golf Club special, he said, 'Let me give you an example ....' And proceeded to tell us all about their fantastic Junior Golf Programme. It has roughly 70 to 80 kids aged 5-12 playing every Sunday! Unbelievable, can I come?!
Steve said the programme runs for 15 weeks and is pulled off with the assistance of 5 brilliant Volunteer Coaches in addition to himself. They break it down into 3 week segments where the juniors progress through a ‘milestone’ system giving them qualifications in various aspects of the game from putting and chipping to bunker play and driving. It is inexpensive and proving to be a brilliant way to get kids into the game. Apparently Peebles has roughly 120 Junior members alone: it must be the envy of every club in Scotland! No wonder they won the 2008 Scottish Junior Club Championships and were a finalist in the RBS Junior Club of the Year 2013.
But in our view, Peebles was a great course to play no matter what your age!
The lady in the Clubhouse assured me that the evening would be fine and dry, despite the current clouds, and she was spot on. So we started to the tee, to have some fun.... Peebles begins with a gentle par 3, and goes from there!
The greens were superb and extremely tricky, but that added to the challenge.
The Peebles Golf Club was founded in 1892 across the town, but moved to its present site in 1934. It was designed by the prominent designer and championship golfer, Henry Colt and he has done the club proud. We thought the best hole was Colt's Choice ... but you will have to decide for yourself which one you like best.
Here is just one of its beautiful views, and the course has many over the valley, with the town peeking out unexpectedly.
It's not a terribly long course, but the rough was deceptively difficult. We tried to stay out of it at all costs, but didn’t always manage. And when you got in it, like all rough, it was so.
Clare had to give her ball a good talking to on the tee ...
i think she was giving it ‘what for’ while she studied the course map!
There were many people out on the course as the evening got better and better. And there was this great sign between the fourth and fifth holes:
I know a few people who would like to put it up at their own courses!!
As you continue around, the views seem to get better and better. My camera just did not do it justice. The magic was augmented by the sound of the pipes rising up from the town: I thought I must be in Heaven.
Peebles has just two par 5’s on the 9th and 18th, but most of the holes offer great driving potential. We each had one or two fabulous drives which made us particularly happy which (as they say), ‘Was worth coming out for.’
Although neither of us scored particularly well, we are going to blame that on the fantastic views which distracted us our attention! Peebles, in our estimation, certainly deserves its designation as ‘Best in the Borders!’ It truly is a hidden gem that should not be missed.
After golf, we checked into the Barony Castle Hotel & Spa just a few miles away.
It's an old 16th castle that has been added onto over the years, and in its present form is reminiscent of a French Chateau.
Here is the motto over the entrance door,
This harkens back to the 1600’s when the Castle was used as a place to dispense justice. But I think today it makes an unusual prelude to the many weddings and conferences conducted inside.
The hotel itself is great and the restaurant outstanding. I just could not resist trying the ‘Chocolate surprise’ dessert. Here it is...
My only complaint: it should have been larger!!
The Castle remained in the Murray Clan until the 1926 when it became a hotel; however, during WWII it was occupied by soldiers of the Polish army. After the war it reverted back to a hotel, but has never lost that connection. Today that connection is stronger than ever through one of its hidden treasures: The Great Polish Map of Scotland! (I am not making this up!!!)
Clare's clever husband had reminded her it as there, so we went in search of it. It's well hidden in their grounds...
This unique monument was conceived by Jan Tomasik, who was a soldier in the Polish Army. He stayed in Scotland after the war and married a Scottish nurse. He was inspired by the a similar outdoor map in Belgium.The map was originally constructed in the late 1970’s, but fell into disrepair when the hotel was left derelict following a fire. It passed out of the hands of the Tomasik family and the map was largely forgotten.
Often Jan Tomasik had been known to say: “I shall die, but I shall leave my map as a gift to the Scottish people to thank them for the hospitality they showed the Poles when it was needed.”
What a lovely testament to friendship ... And I was glad to see it with my unbelievable friend, Clare Edge! It is an expected delight....
As you can see here, there is still a lot of work to do but there has already been an unbelievable amount of clearing done. They hope to have it 90% restored by Summer 2016.
In the picture above, the white pole in the middle indicates Ben Nevis, Scotland’s tallest peak. And the man below was standing on Cape Wrath for me, Scotland’s most northerly point.
This white bit pictured below is the famous misty Isle of Skye:
And most of the other islands are represented as well from Arran to the Outer Isles. For more information on this incredible project you can go to www.mapascotland.org Or www.youtube.com/watch?y=OW06jRPOQ
When The Great Polish Map is all completed it will be fully coloured and have water filling in the dirt areas for the lochs and seas. It should really be something to behold. I can’t wait to get back to see it this time next year!
GOLF NOTES: Peebles is not too long a course at 5195 yards from the red tees but with a par of 70. It has a unique layout in that it goes out and comes back in 9, so you can start on the 1st or the 10th tees. They have buggies and pull carts for hire. And I recommend checking out Peebles Golf Club website. Steve has some promotional videos posted that give great tips and simple drills to improve your game. They have helped this lady already!