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Machrihanish Golf Club

Playing golf at Machrihanish Gof Club on a brisk sunny day with a cool breeze in your face is like playing golf in heaven. The beauty surrounding you is breathtaking--and the course is not to be believed. The only drawback to the superb Scottish seaside links of Machrihanish Golf Club is the difficultly in getting there. You have to really, REALLY want to play Machrihanish because it is at the very southern end of the Kintyre peninsula (the Mull of Kintyre, same Mull of Kintyre as Paul McCartney's song) on the southwestern coast of Scotland. Yet as difficult as isolated as it is, it's the favourite of many golfers and I believe it's worth the trip. (But don't count on the golf travel companies to get you here, it's too much trouble for them to schedule a game here. And even if they did, they'd have to charge an arm and a leg. Much, much less expensive for the independent golfer to make his or her own arrangements.)

Machrihanish Golf Course is the favorite course of many people. Make the effort to get here and you'll see why.
The fabulous opening hole. You must drive the Atlantic !

Remember, links golf is played low to the ground

Machrihanish is classic Scottish links golf. It's played on a seaside golf course designed by the venerable Old Tom Morris. It is an "out-and-back" design, much like St. Andrews and other classic links layouts that Old Tom designed. And like St. Andrews, the wind plays havoc with your choice of clubs. On the day I played there was a 2 to 3 club wind blowing in my face going out. Unfortunately for me, the wind shifted slightly and coming back I did not have it behind me but rather blowing across most of the back nine so it was critical for me to keep my shots low. Putting from 50 yards away was not unusual. In addition to the wind, there are lots of blind shots on this course--tee shots and fairway shots--which makes it doubly difficult when playing it for the first time. Try to play with a member if you can. or, since you travelled so far to play it, get a day ticket and play it twice.

The first hole, rated the third most difficult, is certainly the most memorable and one of the most famous in the world. Your tee shot has to carry over a corner of Machrihanish Bay. How's that for a challenge? And the more ocean you carry the better off you will be. How much game did you bring with you? You'll have to answer this early because cutting off too much puts you in the ocean and hitting three off the tee while not cutting off enough leaves you far down the fairway with no chance to make the green in two. Depending on how much game you thought you brought with you, you can cut off as much as you want. But choose carefully and take the wind into consideration. It will probably be blowing in your face on the 1st tee.

There's really not one weak hole on this golf course. Number 2 is a par 4 with a stream running across the fairway 274 yards from the back tees and about 250 from the middle tees. Too long obviously puts you in trouble but too short leaves you a difficult shot uphill to an green shaped like an inverted soup bowl with the ripples of a giant green potato chip.

Typical of the many blind shots this golf course asks of you. Even a perfect shot right down the middle of the fairway may end up in a valley. But then who ever said links golf is fair?

Numbers 3 and 4 are no bargains either. Number 3 fairway prepares you for the typical fairway on this golf course--lots and lots of bumps and undulations--like playing golf on the moon. And the green, again, like most all of the greens, is very protected by more valleys and furrows than a Sharpie puppy's face. The short (only 123 yards) fourth hole is rated the easiest on the course but it's no pushover. The inverted soup bowl green is surrounded by sheer meanness in the form of bunkers and long, long grass that make it look more intimidating than it actually is. The 6th is like that too. It's rated 13th most difficult but looking at it from the tee it is fierce looking with huge swells of earth riding up and down in front of you. It looks as if you should be driving a Land Rover rather than pulling a golf trolley.

Machrihanish golf course has fairways that are hard to believe

This golf course has fairways that are hard to believe. On number 12, for example, there are 7 mounds shown in the yardage book and that's just the large ones. The book doesn't even come close to the real number that are there. I don't think there's a level spot on the entire fairway. And to make matters worse, the green is another of those inverted soup bowls with ripples and folds like a herd of camels hiding under a huge green blanket.

The most difficult hole on the course is 14. At 442 yards, your drive is critical. You will be driving uphill but if you're too long there are--I don't know what to call them except "craters"--that begin dotting the fairway after 233 yards. Landing in one of them can give you a good lie or a less than desirable one. Then there is a deep dip in the very front of the green that forces you to carry it or be faced with an extraordinarily difficult and delicate chip. The problem with carrying the green is that all the greens are hard and tough to hold. This is one extraordinary hole and no wonder it's rated the most difficult.

Machrihanish golf course is worth every mile it takes to get there
Machrihanish is worth every mile it takes to get there

Machrihanish is a superb golf course. Virtually all the greens are hard and are difficult to hold and many ripples and folds makes them also difficult to read. Most all of them are the inverted soup bowl shape that you have to hold or else they roll off the back. The fairways, too, are like the greens with the same furrows and waves and undulations (and craters!). Throw in a meandering creek or two, uphill and downhill tee shots, blind shots from the tee and from the fairways, and a ferocious wind and you'll have your hands full. The course is fair, and is quite a test of Scottish links golf.

I like this course a lot and recommend it highly.

Golf Nook Scotland rating - EAGLE

The Machrihanish Golf Club, Machrihanish, Campbeltown, Argyll, PA28 6PT

Make It A Double
You've come all this way, so why not stay a bit longer and play Dunaverty Golf Course, close by, about 10 miles south of Campeltown on the B842. Delightful scenic seaside course with great views of Ireland and the Mull of Kintyre, with cows grazing on fairways! Only about 15 pounds a play, and if no one is there to take your money you can leave it in the "honesty box."

Dunaverty Golf Club

No website, but e-mail is
Tel: (0)1586 830677


Mary-Alice suggests...

Where to Stay around Machrihanish if you want to linger longer

This is a remote part of Scotland. The B&Bs I formerly reommended are no longer in business and so I am offering the names of two guest houses that I've never been in but about which I have heard good reports. They are very highly rated and recommended. Neither is in Machrihanish, but each is just a short drive away.

Dalnaspidal Guest House is a 5 star lodging that caters to the independent golf traveler. One look at their website will convince you of their high quality.

Oatfield House is a 4 star lodging that also has an appealing website.