Kintyre: “The Almighty had golf in his eye when he made this place.”
The Ryder Cup starts today, so what better excuse to take a wee look at what South Kintyre’s golf courses have to offer. After all, Old Tom Morris stated that “The Almighty had golf in his eye when he made this place” so who are we to argue with a golfing legend?
It was while in the village of Machrihanish, some 4 miles from Campbeltown on the Kintyre Peninsula that Old Tom Morris uttered these famous words, clearly very pleased with the natural landscape that was to be the grounds of the new Machrihanish Golf Club he was to design.
Established in 1876, this 18 hole Championship Course is frequently cited among the top 100 Golf Courses to play. The opening hole, taken out across the Atlantic, with the beach in play, must surely make for quite a striking start to the round. Stunning views across to the islands of Islay, Jura and Gigha provide a delightful backdrop for this classic links course. Some other holes to watch out for (apart from the 1st) are the 5th, another par four with its fairway like an elephant’s graveyard, the 10th, a clever dogleg par five, and the 15th, a “one shotter” with real difficulty if the elusive green is missed from the tee.
Green fees range from £35-£75 per round or £90 – £110 per day.
The new kid on the block of Kintyre’s golf courses, Machrihanish Dunes has nonethless
quickly built up a reputation as a top golfing destination since its opening in 2009. One of the most natural courses in the world, it is the only one ever created on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Because of the fragility of this pristine coastal environment and in order to preserve the unmatched natural beauty of the site, the course was built with the lightest touch possible; Of the 259 acres on which the course sits, only seven were disturbed during its construction!
Designed by David McLay Kidd, Machrihanish Dunes is a course that mirrors the architect’s love of the land and his ability to derive the fullest reward from its potential. Describing his efforts at Machrihanish Dunes, Kidd said: “We followed the lie of the land and unlike most courses around the world, we did not lay out the course and make the land change with it, we designed each hole around the natural terrain. For maintenance we will do a little mowing, but will mostly rely on the wandering sheep to keep the fescue in check – just like the old courses used to do. We are returning golf to how it should be played; no longer is it a gentle walk in a garden, it will be a full-fledged mountaineering expedition at this course.”
Green fees £39 – £75 per Round. Day pass £40 – £95. Reduced rates for hotel/cottage guests.
Founded in 1889, by group of local farmers and members of the community, Dunaverty Golf Club in Southend still maintains a very friendly, community feel. Whilst not the longest of courses, golfers of all abilities will enjoy its natural links layout which weaves amongst the wind-contoured terrain creating natural hazards on every hole. Alex Arkell, Dunaverty’s Competitions Secretary, describes it as, “The hidden gem of golf courses. Lying at the southern tip of the Kintyre peninsula, this scenic 18 hole golf course commands stunning views of Ireland, Ayrshire, Ailsa Craig and our own Southend coastline. The view from the 11th tee is unrivalled in golf but it is the par 4 17th which is regarded as the signature hole with a wide fairway with out-of-bounds all down the right and a green which is guarded by the burn and public access road in front. A fantastic par 66 course where every golfer of every age and ability is made welcome.”
Green fees; £16 – £30 per round. Day Ticket £25 – £42.
In addition to the three 18 hole links courses, there are two 9-hole courses; the Pans Course at Machrihanish Golf Club and Carradale Golf club on the East Coast of the Peninsula offering plenty of variety for golfers of all abilities and however long your golf trip!
Campbeltown is the main town in the area and is around a 3 hour drive from Glasgow. If you fancy breaking up the journey you could always stop for a round at the Cameron Club Loch Lomond or the wee 9 hole Tarbert Golf Club, at the North end of the Kintyre Peninsula, on your way here.
You don’t necessarily have to drive though; as mentioned in a previous blog post, the area is well served by plane, bus and ferry services.
Machrihanish, Southend and Carradale are all a short drive from Campbeltown itself, which offers a wide range of accommodation and eating and drinking options for when you’re not on the golf course. Don’t forget to try a Campbeltown Malt or Kintyre Gin at the 19th hole!