The small settlement of Southend lies at the southern tip of the Kintyre peninsula and it’s in this idyllic location that you’ll find the lovely little seaside course of Dunaverty, where the fairways are laid out along the coastline between Dunaverty Bay and Brunerican Bay. As it occupies a seaside setting like the nearby courses at Machrihanish and Machrihanish Dunes, Dunaverty is a links course in the true sense of the word, with firm and fast playing conditions that allow play all year round.
In such a beautiful, tranquil location, it’s hard to imagine that this is also the site of one of the most infamous episodes in Scottish history, when Scottish supporters of Oliver Cromwell besieged Dunaverty Castle in 1647. When those inside (all members of the Clan MacDonald) eventually surrendered, all three hundred were then massacred by General David Leslie’s forces. Little remains of the fortress but the ruin is now known as Blood Rock for the terrible deed that took place there.
The overall length of the 18-hole layout is a shade less than 4,800 yards and it features seven par threes, with half of the ten par fours on the card measuring less than three hundred yards. Playing to a par of 66, it’s easy to see that Dunaverty doesn’t quite have the same championship credentials as its more famous golfing near neighbours. That, however, doesn’t mean to say the golf that’s played at this charming little layout is any less engaging than the game golfers experience ten miles further up the road.
The opening few holes are laid out close to the clubhouse, with small electric wire fences set around the greens to keep grazing animals off the putting surfaces. You then cross Conieglen Burn, at the point where it runs into the sea, as the fairways head further east, towards Sanda Island, and the highest point on the property at Mount Zion, the par three 10th, where the green is benched into the hillside. From here, the Antrim coastline of Northern Ireland appears very close at hand indeed.The holes then tumble down towards the burn, starting with a couple of short par fours. The only par five on the card, the 466-yard 13th (“The Cemetery”), follows before a couple of par three/par four combinations brings the routing back to the Conieglen Burn, where the green of the 412-yard 17th sits on the other side of the water. The final hole is only a short par four, so there’s every chance of finishing with a birdie to end the round in style. Regardless of score, you’re bound to walk off the home green with a big smile, having just played one of Scotland’s true hidden gems.
I played here four years ago, in May 2011, on a day trip from Glasgow to the Kintyre peninsula with a couple of mates. Not for us the golfing delights of Machrihanish or Machrihanish Dunes that day. Instead, we decided to play a couple of the lesser lights in that particular part of the country, namely the 18-hole Dunaverty and 9-hole Carradale courses.
I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again: you can get just as much (if not more) enjoyment from playing the wee diddy tracks as you can by tackling ANY of the top ranked championship venues. In fact, there’s a lot to be said for going slightly off golfing piste now and again to sample the Glencruittens, Traighs and Dunavertys of Scotland because a round on those sort of course is bound to restore the golfing feel good factor in your cynical, world weary soul.
Dunaverty is as unpretentious as you could ever imagine, with holes laid out on a beautiful stretch of coastline close to Southend. Here, you’ll find more than half a dozen par threes of all shapes and sizes, the same number of (really) short par fours and only one par five hole.
Greens are basically rectangular shaped putting surfaces that lie on the land, allowing the traditional running approach shot to be played on most holes. It’s all very simple, very basic and impeccably maintained. Indeed, there’s many a course that could learn a thing or two from Dunaverty. As for the follow up 9-hole game at Carradale that afternoon, well that’s another story for another day. Suffice to say it too didn’t disappoint in anyway whatsoever.