Review for Ardfin

Reviewer Score:


How do you objectively rate a golf course that serves up fresh scallops and fillet steak at its halfway house?

This is the dilemma I face after my recent trip to Ardfin. Never mind golf experiences, this is one of the best life experiences I’ve ever had. The whole place is simply breathtaking and was slightly overwhelming at times. Standing up on the first tee looking back down the coast to holes 8,9 and beyond is something I will never forget.

The golf course itself is an absolute marvel. How they have managed to construct a golf course here beggars belief. Like others have said, the course is split into 3 parts. Holes 1-7 to the top of the course, holes 8-14 run along the cliffs/coast. Then holes 15-18 run back towards the clubhouse.

Again like others have said, the course is incredibly penal. Too penal? In my opinion yes. The course felt a bit suffocating and claustrophobic at times. Disaster looms on every single shot. You can’t lose concentration for a second other wise it is bye bye pro v 1 fresh out the sleeve. I managed to lose 15 balls over the 43 holes that I played. Is that fun? Where Ardfin manages to pull you back in is the breathtaking setting. One moment you’re saying goodbye to your 4th £5 golf ball of the round, the next you are staring back over to Isla at the most wonderful views.

Breaking up the rounds with the visit to the greenhouse and the boathouse also manage to take your mind over the number of balls you have lost. The experience at the boat house in particular was quite something. Scallops and fillet steak on the picnic bench outside, served in glorious sunshine. Does it genuinely get any better?

Back to the golf course. The other two gripes I would have with Ardfin is that I felt that it got a bit repetitive at times, and it took the driver out my hands.

There are a number of holes where because something cuts across the fairway, you have to lay back. This happens on 4,8,9,11,13,14,18. For me this led to a lot of 3woods/long irons down to a point then chipping a wedge or a short iron onto the green.

With the driver, 1,3,16,17 are so tight that there is pretty much nowhere to hit it. On 5&6 you could hit driver but slightly pulling it left on either hole and you could find yourself running into the thigh high stuff and lose your ball - guess who did that (more than once too).

That only leaves the 15th where I would hit driver under normal circumstances. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? For me it did slightly detract from the experience though it should be noted that when I played the course there was absolutely no wind and the course was firm from a recent dry spell. That may have had a factor in how I tried to play the course but I’m not sure my strategy would change all that much in different conditions.

These are minor nitpickings though. I absolutely loved the course. I absolutely loved just standing there, looking round trying to take in my surroundings. Like I said before it’s an absolute marvel. I loved the 8th hole. 310 yards to a fairway you can’t really see and the green the size of a postage stamp. Golf doesn’t need 500 yard par 4s with holes as clever as this.

I loved standing out on the 10th tee feeling like I was at the edge of the world. I loved standing on the 11th tee hitting towards the boathouse. I don’t normally like par 3s over 200 yards but I will make an exception for the 12th. And then I loved putting out on the 16th looking back down towards 11,12 and the boathouse.

One final point about the difficulty of this course. I’ve been a member at Carnoustie all my life. I’ve played Muirfield in the Scottish Amateur of the Open tees. I’ve played Sawgrass and Kiawah in the States. This is harder than all of them. Far harder. Given how penal the course is, how thick the rough is, how small the greens are and how wild the weather can be in that part of the world, I can’t imagine a harder course anywhere. It’s almost like the make believe courses you used to get on Tiger Woods 2005 on the Xbox. Hopefully one day I’ll get to compare Pine Valley to it. We will see!

I can’t finish the review without giving credit to the staff, for the hospitality they gave us and the food they served up. I’m just a normal guy who decided to treat myself and my girlfriend. I was blown away by the whole experience. The food was the best I’ve ever had. It made Turnberry look like a Premier Inn (sorry Donald).

Is it worth the money? 10000%. If you’re on the fence about going then don’t hesitate just go. You won’t regret it. It will be one of the best experiences you ever have.

Date: August 05, 2021

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