West Lothian Golf Club is a cracking course set atop a hill between Bo'ness, a small town situated on the River Forth, and Linlithgow, a very attractive Royal Burgh in West Lothian. Mary Queen of Scots was born there and the ruins of Linlithgow Palace are prominent even to this day and is visible from the 17th tee over the waters of Linlithgow Loch.
The layout must have changed since previous reviews here as the par 3 next to the clubhouse is now the 18th. It's a challenging hole, especially when there's a wind blowing and only a well struck shot will clear the 4 sizeable bunkers and come to rest on the green before running through the back into the boundary wall.
Before you get there though, there are some wonderful holes.
The 1st is a blind drive (aim just left of the Hope Monument) that should be par or bogey at worst before the 2nd offers a good challenge to stay on the fairway and away from the trees on the right. The 3rd has a wonderful tee shot downhill into a valley with gorse, bunker and water all protecting the hole. The second shot there is crucial as the fairway is unforgiving near the hole and bogey can be seen as a good score here. The 4th par 5 is a birdie opportunity with a burn running across the fairway some 40yds in front of the two tier green.
The 5th is one of the courses weaker holes but then there's two crackers straight after to make up for it. A wonderful tree lined par 3 of around 150yds with bunkers protecting the raised green. Then the beautiful par 4 7th which has a lovely approach shot into the subtle but tricky green.
The 8th is the only real let down on the course with the 2nd shot being up an almost 40º slope to a raised green. It's a love it or hate it hole. If you par it, you'll love it, if you do any worse, you'll hate it.
The 9th is stroke index one and the drive of the medal tees is across the water filled quarry and down to a dog leg fairway protected by bunker and pond. The green is lovely, sloping back towards your approach shot. The 10th is another blind drive, but careful of the burn running down and across in front of the green. Another par 3 greets you at the 11th which we found plays longer than it looks or measures, despite being downhill. Once your ball gets above the trees, the wind can have more effect than you'd like.
The next hole, a long Par 5 is a birdie opportunity with the prevailing wind behind, but danger lurks if there's an easterly blowing. The 13th then runs in the other direction and is a very demanding test of ball control. Be happy with a bogey here and delighted with a par! One of the hardest holes on the course follows, an uphill, dogleg par 5 protected by trees and bunkers at the half way point. The green is a magnificent two tier slope with a punishing drop off to the left. If you're going to miss, miss right, but not too far right or you may find water!
The 15th par 3 is a scoring opportunity before you get to the hole that some regard as the hardest on the course. A very long par 4 over the crest of a gully with a blind 2nd shot that should be aimed slightly right to allow the lie of the land to guide your ball to the very undulating green. Hope that the pin is placed at the back or left, as anywhere else and a 3 putt is on the cards!
The 17th is a quirky hole that involves a drive to a fairway plateaux (anything else but a good shot will leave you against the out of bounds wall up the left or on the 1st fairway!) with a 2nd shot that should be strategically played onto the slope in front of and to the right of the green.
And then we end up back at the par 3 18th where a good score can be taken care of with the slightest gust of wind!
The greens were great, true and fast and have eventually come through the very tough winter of 2009!
When we played the course, the trees and gorse were in full bloom and it looked great.