I had the great pleasure of playing Ardfin in the COVID summer of 2020. A major investment but justified by being both my anniversary and the penultimate round of my own top 100 challenge.
At the time they were only hosting one group per evening, so my wife and I made the journey to the isles, playing both Machrie on Islay and then Ardfin on Jura.
The owner of the course has currently set an eye watering green fee, along with the caveat that you need to stay the night as well at extra cost which I feel puts it into the global elite and as an advocate for Scottish golf, I would say this is shame as only the most dedicated or rich will venture to play. I sincerely hope going forward the course becomes more reasonably priced and more frequently played, without the need for the overnight stay, perhaps a clubhouse can take people away from the main accommodation and allow for both worlds to sit together – the committed golfer and the luxury traveller.
As other reviewers said the course is split into sections, with seven holes to the North of Jura House, then holes 8 to 11 running to the Boat House, then the final 7 holes, from 12 to 18.
The reason I mention the divisions is that within both rounds of golf I was met at the glasshouse after 7, then the boathouse after 11, for drinks/food, which added to the charm and unique experience.
Included within the green fee I was able to play the course twice, being joined and guided on the first by Simon the course manger/head green keeper.
I played the course near the end of my own personal quest to play Scotland's Top 100 courses. I can safely say that no course provided a similar experience. Ardfin is blessed with a stunning layout along the edges of the South Jura coast.
Several holes proved fantastically memorable, even now, several months later, superb golf holes. 1-3 are magnificent, there is no easy introduction to the course, straight away the first is a challenging uphill par 4, which is so exposed to the winds.
For me, through all my Scottish golf, the 1st, 3rd, 8th, 11th and 12th are easily some of the most memorable I have ever played, all taking advantage of the stunning coastline and views back south to Islay.
Indeed the run of holes from the 7th to the 14th is a breath taking roller coaster, with little room for error and I assume always playing into a demoralising wind.
i can talk all day about the experience, something about being so exposed against the island weather, something about the breath taking scenery, something about being treated like a five star guest, something about an experience that is simply not available anywhere else in the world.....
The course had the feel of a new build with the turf just becoming firm in places and the need for a bit more drainage, however, with the investment to date, I do not see either thing being an issue for long.
PS the accommodation and dining were superb, simply first class, it was eerie as we were the only guests due to the pandemic but it was unforgettable, absolutely charming and an anniversary we will never forget. The general manager is in the elite of Scottish hoteliers, the Chef was award winning etc. Simply put the place lived up to the price, which is actually a huge compliment.
Date: November 15, 2020