Inside Track: Loch Lomond

Our man Harry Emanuel brings you his pre-tournament analysis of The Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond.

The Barclays Scottish Open
Course: Loch Lomond Golf Club
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Since: 1972
Yardage: 7,149
Par: 71
Low winning total: 265 Tom Lehman (1997) Tim Clark (2005)
Course Record: 62 Retief Goosen (2001) Sergio Garcia (1999)
Field: 156
Cut: Top 70 plus ties after 36 holes
Tee Off: Thursday GMT 0:730
The Scottish Open was played at six different venues from 1972-1996. Loch Lomond became the regular host course in 1997 after successfully staging the Loch Lomond World Invitational in 1996.
There has been only one English winner (Lee Westwood in 1999) and South Africans have the best record since the turn of the century with four wins and at least one player finishing in the top three each year.
One of the strongest fields of the year has assembled with 22 of the world’s top 50 players trying to hone their games before The Open at Turnberry next week.
Last Time Out
In 2008 Graeme McDowell opened with 67 for a share of seventh place. A second round 70 saw him drop to 14th place four shots off the lead set by Angel Cabrera. However a third round 66 catapulted McDowell into a share of the lead with Simon Khan two shots ahead the chasing pack.
McDowell found himself two shots adrift after 11 holes on the final day but a hat trick of birdies on holes 13-15 helped him to go on and win by two strokes. This week he will attempt to become the first player to successfully defend The Barclays Scottish Open.
Designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish in 1987 it sits on the banks of Loch Lomond beneath the rolling hills of the Clan Colquhoun Estate with holes 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 17 and 18 running alongside the Loch.
Loch Lomond is a par 71 course and plays to a maximum yardage of 7,149. It may have only three par fives and one of those is 625 yards but it is an excellent course for low scoring with wide fairways, short rough and receptive greens.
The fairways are generous in width and with little rough Loch Lomond is considered to be a course that suits long hitters. In reality it is a positional course and players need to shape the ball both ways off the tee to give themselves the best angles to attack the pins.
Last year, despite very soft conditions, the top five players were all in the top 11 for driving accuracy but none inside the top 25 for driving distance. With players like Graeme McDowell, Tim Clark and Thomas Levet amongst the winners driving distance in not an issue.
The greens creeping bent/poa greens are in perfect shape and rolling very smoothly. They are never that fast at Loch Lomond but run very true and players who get hot with the putter can make a lot of putts.
Any wayward approach shots will either find one the bunkers that protect the greens and or one of the numerous runoff areas leaving a difficult up and down.
They said
“The fairways are quite wide and it’s quite long. There’s a lot of tee shots that you do have to shape in the fairways. It’s in better condition than I’ve ever seen it. It normally is in great condition anyways, the greens are as pure as you’d like” – David Drysdale
“We have an Open champion who designed this golf course in Tom Weiskopf, and you can see his vision through this. It was his favourite course, and still is, I believe, of all of the courses that Tom Weiskopf has designed. The setting is breathtaking, really” – Colin Montgomerie
Horses for Courses
Ernie Els has the best record of any player at The Barclays Scottish Open. A winner in 2000 and 2003, he also finished second in 1997, third in 2004 and 2007 and ninth in 2006 and 2008.
From a total of 36 rounds over the Loch Lomond course, Els is 96 under par, with 32 rounds under par, including 27 in the 60’s.
Key Holes
On average the back nine plays at least one stroke more difficult than the front nine but holes 13 and 14 provide excellent scoring opportunities.
The 13th is 560 yard par 5 and ranked 2nd easiest hole on the course. It is reachable in two shots for most players in the field and 15 eagles and 168 birdies were recorded last year.
The 14th is a 371 yard par 4 and ranks as the fourth easiest hole on the course. It is drivable for the longer hitters and three eagles and 132 birdies were scored in 2008. Any player failing to make birdies as these holes will slip down the leaderboard.
The area has its own micro climate and the weather can be very changeable. It will start out cloudy with winds in region of 10-15mph on Thursday before brightening up on Friday. A warm weekend with some rainy spells is forecast.
Eight of the last 11 winners recorded three top 18 finishes or better in their previous four tournaments coming into the event. Since 1996 seven winners had already won that season and players in good form usually win this event.