There is no gentle introduction here. A tree-lined fairway dictates that accuracy off the tee is vital in order to make a good start - but fortunately that element of the game is usually one of my strong suits. This first hole generally plays into the prevailing wind and demands an equally precise second shot, avoiding the large bunker which sits 25 to 30 yards short of the green.
Just the shape of hole I love - a dog-leg from right to left, demanding a high draw round the corner to open up the green. Seriously, as a fader of the ball, I do favour holes shaped the other way, but this is a lovely testing par 4, with a wall running the full length of the hole adding to the challenge. Avoid the woods - lost ball territory - and the strategically placed bunker on the right of the fairway, and the hole offers a birdie chance.
The shortest par 4 on the course and a delightful hole it is, following a gentle meander through the woods into what is known as the "Garden Field" section of the Roxburghe. Although only a drive and a 'flick' with a short iron, the course architect, Dave Thomas, has cunningly placed a necklace of bunkers to guard the green and must be treated with care and consideration.
When I encounter a hole by the name of 'Azalea', I usually think of Augusta National and water, water everywhere. I was not disappointed with the first par 3 on the course! The man-made pond guards the green to the front while a bank of Azaleas, from which the hole's name is derived, lies in wait if you over-club. Even if you clear the pond, there is still a large bunker to be cleared. A crisp iron shot off the tee is definitely required here.
The first par 5, and the longest. Depending on the wind direction, this tends to be a three-shotter but a little assistance from the breeze can bring the generous putting surface into range. I remember playing here a few years ago and remarking on the picturesque nature of this section of the course. This particular hole is clearly defined by many mature trees to the left of the fairway and surrounding the green while the well-positioned bunkers must be avoided to open up birdie possibilities.
Another stroll through the woods from Garden Field, and the course opens out with some marvellous views which give The Roxburghe its unique character. The garden wall on the left ensures maximum concentration on the tee shot to a green 382 yards away. Those woods should be avoided at all costs! Once the fairway has been located, it's a short iron to the green but the angled green demands a well-judged approach.
This is a hole I would expect to reach in two shots - assuming I can negotiate the out of bounds skirting the left side of the fairway and the trademark Dave Thomas bunkers guarding the green. As its name implies, Teviot View affords superb scenery, but don't be lulled into soaking up the views at the expense of hitting the fairway! I'm not exactly the world's shortest hitter so I would be looking for a birdie here.
Another lovely par 3, and a good test as well. A long to mid iron is required, although the clubbing can change depending on the wind direction and the fact that the hole plays predominantly downhill. There is a ridge running across the green, so it’s important to be on the right part of the putting surface to ensure a decent shot at a birdie. The bunkering here is again extremely impressive.
A strong par 4 to end the front nine. The hole is straight uphill but the compensation is that it invariably plays downwind. The two fairway bunkers on the left should be kept out of play, and that applies also to the large bunkers guarding the front of the green. Most players will be happy to walk off with a par.
An attractive hole with which to begin the back nine, but an exceptionally testing one. Thankfully, I favour shaping my shots from left to right and this dog-leg is perfect for a fader. For the handicap golfer it is No. 1 on the Stroke Index, which underlines the problems. Important not to over-shoot the fairway on the left as the terrain runs sharply downhill in the driving area. The River Teviot provides a scenic backdrop for the approach. Overall, a top-notch par 4.
After a brisk downhill stroll, it's back up again with another dog-leg, this time right to left with a sloping fairway which runs quite steeply from right to left. As a result it's vital to aim the ball towards the right edge of a green which is protected on the left side by a huge bunker, just waiting to trap an errant approach which has not taken account of the fall-off.
Yet another left to right dog-leg, which probably requires a three wood or iron off the tee in order to keep the ball in play. The rough is penal off the fairway here, so conservative play is the best option. A good tee shot opens up the green and affords a birdie opportunity, but putting is tricky on a very sloping green.
Extremely attractive hole, with an expanse of water in front of the green and some imposing beech trees beyond the putting surface. The long to mid-iron tee shot is all across water with a little room for the ‘bail out' shot.
The Roxburghe's signature hole, and rightly so. The short walk from the 13th green to the 14th tee brings the beauty of the Borders landscape sharply into focus. Apart from being pleasing on the eye, this is a taxing par 5 with the River Teviot running along the the entire left side of the hole towards the viaduct in the distance. Downwind, the green can be reached in two - but don't forget to concentrate on the golf and not the views.
Another pretty hole with the river and viaduct on the left. A relatively short par 3, uphill and downwind, but requires due care and attention off the tee due to the cavernous bunker - the largest on the course - shielding the green.
Time to turn into the prevailing wind again for the final homeward journey. The tee shot requires the golfer to fly the two fairway bunkers. A solid drive should eliminate most of the problems, and opens up the hole for a long, but straightforward, second shot. The low wall behind the green shouldn't come into play but offers a nice aesthetic touch.
A shortish, but tricky par 4. An iron off the tee finishing on the crest of the hill will afford a good look at a green which slopes sharply from back to front, heavily guarded by three bunkers. The putting surface is the slickest on the course and the best strategy involves keeping the ball on the low side of the hole to avoid a downhill tester.
A strong finishing hole. A dog-leg right to left, well protected by fairway bunkers and a testing second shot to an equally well guarded green. Mr Thomas certainly likes his bunkers - and how to gain maximum efficiency from them! The ditch just under 100 yards from the green might intimidate the handicap golfer but the second shot to the green has to be very accurate to offer a birdie chance. A gorgeous way to finish an impressive and picturesque golf course.