Askernish - North Scotland - Scotland

Askernish Golf Club,
Askernish,
South Uist,
Outer Hebrides,
HS8 5SY,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1878 700628

  • TBC

  • Martin Ebert

  • None

The Askernish course was created by Old Tom Morris back in 1891 but over the years, it fell into disrepair. Some of the course was levelled and used as an airstrip in the 1930s then a 12-hole course was laid out to the north of the original holes but this became a 9-hole affair with 18 tees back in the 1970s.

It was in 2006 that Gordon Irvine (the man responsible for the restoration of Royal Cinque Ports in Deal) embarked on the quest to bring the original course back to life. He, along with architect Martin Ebert and a stack of local volunteers, then spent the next two years transforming the Askernish Machair into an 18-hole layout that most closely resembled the routing of Old Tom’s course.

The first four holes head north from the clubhouse then the next eight, from holes 5 to 12, run in and out of the dunes parallel to the coastline before the last six holes are played slightly more inland, returning back to the start. The outward half has a par of 37 and the back nine are 150 yards shorter with a par of 35.

The restoration project is the focal point of an effort to regenerate the area and it is hoped the evolving course development will attract a growing number of golfers who are curious to discover what the fuss is all about in such a golfing outpost as South Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

Course architect Martin Ebert writes:
The news about the Askernish project seems to be spreading far and wide with growing excitement. The quest to find the Old Tom Morris layout has led to a routing design inspired by the values and construction methods available in the days of 1891 when golf was first played over the classic sand dunes.

The project really will present a course which is a Living Golf Course Museum and is already in play after the official opening in August 2008, the year of the 100th anniversary of Old Tom’s death.

The creation of the course is so similar to the way that the first courses evolved. Golfers just playing the land as it lies with the greenkeepers refining the course as it becomes more popular.

Rudimentary putting conditions to begin with but gradually an improvement of the surfaces by minor levelling and conditioning. Tiny tees which will, over time, need to be made larger. Bunkers formed by the cattle and where the golfers’ divots will wear the grass away.

Golf as it used to be, following in the footsteps of Old Tom Morris…

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Reviews for Askernish

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Description: The Askernish golf course was created by Old Tom Morris back in 1891 but over the years, it fell into disrepair. In 2008 the Askernish Golf Club came back to life. Rating: 4.9 out of 6 Reviews: 11

Askernish despite its isolated location is well worth a trip to the wild and rugged island of South Uist, probably the most natural links course you’re every likely to play. I played in mid September on windy but dry day, untypical Uist weather given you’re normally guaranteed a soaking at some point. The first 5 holes are fairly mundane but from 6 onwards Askernish Golf Course - Photo by reviewer it moves into the dunes and begins a sensational stretch until it slows down on the 16th as you return to the club house. My personal favourites were holes 7 & 11. The 11th is one of the best par 3’s you’ll ever likely to play, requiring a 185 yard carry over a deep gully to the top of another dune into the prevailing wind, I needed to hit driver to make it and thankfully still managed a par with an audience of grey seals watching from the shallows on the beach below. Don’t come expect perfectly mown fairways or manicured greens, despite that they still rolled reasonably fast and true. The only negative points were the rabbit problem which blights almost every hole, the club needs to fix it before the course is damaged further, it would also benefit from some yardage marker posts, my golf course app didn’t have the course mapped so bring your rangefinder!

4 / 6
Askernish
September 21, 2018


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Following a 4am alarm call we’d already driven for more than six hours and covered over 350 road miles before boarding a ferry at Oban sailing to Lochboisdale.

The 'Lord of the Isles' took a further five and a half hours before it eventually docked a little after seven that evening. We were tired and hungry, in need of food and sleep.

The decision was simple; eat at our place of residence for the night, the Polochar Inn (last food orders 8.30pm), or play golf until sunset and go to bed on empty stomachs.

Later that evening we were feasting upon a 3-course meal... it consisted of a packet of midget gems, an emergency tin of tuna (ring pull of course) and an over-ripe banana that was found at the bottom of one of our golf bags. Over ‘dinner’ we were recounting the greatest golfing experience we'd ever had. Welcome to Askernish.

It takes a strong will and a lot of determination, as well as plenty of planning, to reach Askernish Golf Club on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. It’s very much a journey into the unknown. But if you have the desire and a love for pure, undiluted links golf it’s a voyage you simply must make. I repeat, you simply must make.

For it is here you will find beautifully raw golf distilled to its origins; a mix of simplistic brilliance and crazy genius.

A little bit like the journey itself Askernish starts at a relatively slow pace before gathering momentum and building to a climax that effectively takes place over the bulk of the course; a run of holes from the 7th to the 16th that we simply dubbed ‘The Stretch’.

The ‘Stretch’ doesn’t really have a signature hole; there is an autograph book full of them. At times it leaves you speechless.

The real beauty on this sequence of holes is that Askernish gives you all the pieces of the puzzle but allows you to solve it in your own imaginative way. The options are endless.

The 17th and 18th holes gradually retreat from the duneland and ease you home in the form of a par three and a boomerang-shaped par five that completes an anti-clockwise loop of the course. Despite the final two holes allowing time to come down from the inevitable high you still walk off the final green in a daze and wonder if it was all real.

On reflection there are two different courses being played at Askernish. The plain and transparent holes like the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 13th, 17th and 18th; subtle yet alluring. And the deeply complex holes found between seven and 16. Admittedly you don’t have to go to Askernish to play holes like the former batch; there are enough top links courses in the UK where you will find plenty of these type of stellar holes. But you do need to go to Askernish to experience the latter.

Askernish is a golf course like no other. A place your life will be better for having visited. Beyond words. Beyond brilliance.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

6 / 6
Askernish
July 12, 2017


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I played this course with my cousin, a local resident, and some borrowed clubs, while visiting the wild, wonderful and beautiful O.H. What an unexpected and joyous surprise to find this course nestled into the dunes. When I was there, the rough was brutal, the greens "basic". I could imagine myself teeing up in plus-twos with a machie niblick and a guttapercha ball! The course is a gem, pure links play, but with slightly softer lies than I'm used to on links courses - maybe thanks to the wet summer? Echoes of Royal County Down, but maintained "old-style". Just like the O.H. themselves, a unique, magical experience.
6 / 6
Askernish
June 25, 2015


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The land is part of a large estate owned by the island community. After protracted and at times heated negotiations the go ahead was finally given for Askernish to be resurrected under strict environmental guidelines. To the credit of all parties, the restoration was completed on a minimal budget with the help of volunteers, including greenkeeper Gordon Irvine and architect Martin Ebert.

The first five holes are on flatter terrain near the clubhouse. From the 7th to the 16th, there are some very good holes in duneland that at times was reminiscent of Ballybunion. The par three 14th is in the heart of the dunes and runs almost in the opposite direction to the 11th. It is only 141 yards but into the breeze it is a scary proposition with trouble if you land anywhere except the green.

Don’t expect a manicured look here. The greens are merely an extension of the fairways and there are some rough tracks to and from some of the tees. The biggest problem however is the rabbit population which is out of control. Most links courses have plenty of rabbits in the rough or the dunes but at Askernish they are also burrowing in the middle of the fairways.

You will also need to have a good eye for spotting your ball as the machair is profuse with white, yellow and purple flowers which makes it almost impossible to pinpoint a golf ball lying in its midst. If the conditioning can be improved just a little and the rabbits defeated then Askernish could represent a rare chance to play genuine links golf in a lovely remote setting.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
4 / 6
Askernish
April 14, 2015


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Just returned from playing in the Askernish Open (August 2015). What a fantastic experience. Entry of 137 golfers from various parts of the globe and perfect weather made for a great event. Course is in fantastic condition, bearing in mind it is meant to be just as Old Tom had set it up in 1891. In other words, not modern day pristine fairways and greens. This is my third Open and I will continue to come back until I can't......!
6 / 6
Askernish
September 04, 2014


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The Outer Hebrides is an absolutely fantastic holiday destination. It feels so remote, yet there are still some decent places to stay, delicious seafood and a multitude of activities to enjoy. There are a few golf courses too and now this true classic links. The greens were very slow when we played, but that didn't detract from a great layout in a spectacular location. Dont expect good weather, but do get yourself over to South Uist and enjoy a fantastic holiday in the Western Isles.
5 / 6
Askernish
August 17, 2014


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One of golf's truly unique venues. You step back in time when you step on the links at Askernish. For sure, it is a round of golf to be cherished. However, you have to have you expectations in line with reality. You step back in time on maintenance standards as well. Have those in alignment and you'll really enjoy yourself.
4 / 6
Askernish
August 13, 2011


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Had the pleasure of playing Troon, Turnberry, Prestwick & Machrinhanish this month but saved the best until last - Askernish..! In my humble opinion, merely the finest example of pure links in the world. Thank you Tom Morris!
6 / 6
Askernish
July 16, 2010


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I played this course in July 2007 before it re-opened and must confess I knew nothing of its history - at the time it was simply called South Uist GC and was only nine holes. There were a number of guys working on the course when I was there and they had started to open up some of the holes from the old Tom Morris course. During the round it dawned on me that the tee boxes related to the nine hole course and the yardages were are wrong but I was most confused during the first few holes- I thought the greenkeepers were having a laugh! - the first tee box indicated a short par 4 and I had to hit a full drive and a full three wood to get greenside. There was then a short par 3 (on the tee box) which was actually a dog leg with about a 300 yard carry on to the green. I was really confused but thoroughly enjoying the weird experience and amazed at the features of the course - it did strike me that this looked more like a championship links rather than a western isles pay and play. The classic moment was arriving on (i think) the 6th tee which said 150yds. The only green I could see was away in the distance sitting on a plateu. By then I had kinda guessed that the yardages on the tee boxes were not to be trusted. This hole faced south and I was hitting into a stiff wind. I absolutely creamed a driver down the middle. I got to my ball and was still about 400yds from the green. I hit my driver again of the deck and it went like a rocket towards the green. I was still about 180 yds short of the green - I hit a full 3 iron and was still 20 yds short. pitched on an holed the putt for a 5. I reckon the hole I played that day was in excess of 650 yards so the tee box was only 500 yds out. As I went on the scenery and layout of the golf course was truly world class. I cannot wait to return an play it now they have reopened the full course. I subsequently found out that the course had been reduced to nine holes and that the RAF had been using it as an airstrip. A truly unexpected gem.
5 / 6
Askernish
April 02, 2009


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After reading an article about this course I really wanted to play it. Myself and a friend decided to join for £100 and we went up in the middle of September for a week to play the course. Beware it took a 6 hour drive from Chester then a 5 hour ferry trip to the island but it was very enjoyable. Like the comments made below this course is not your manicured greens and flowing fairways but considering this has only been open a couple of months prior to our visit it was a good week of golf. The rough is brutal, the fairways are long but work is being done on them, the greens are as you would expect for being only a couple of months old. However you can tell this course has been designed by a master in Old Tom Morris. We booked a nice self accommodating house 200 yards away from the course, the islanders are very friendly and the views from the 7th, 11th and 12th Tee’s are amazing. This course is going to be one to watch but how much they can improve it will be down to the islanders themselves. Definitely return in a couple of years for another week away.
4 / 6
Askernish
October 19, 2008


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