There’s uncertainty regarding the provenance of the Glencruitten course. According to the John F. Moreton & Iain Cumming book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses, “The Polivinster course started in 1890, was nine holes and council-owned. The council sought another site, in 1905… In 1907 they start to talk to Mr. Bontein who already has a private nine hole course on the Glencruitten estate. Negotiations falter… The council looks elsewhere, to Ganavan on the coast. This nine hole opens in May 1908.”
“Meanwhile, Bontein goes ahead with the extension to eighteen… This course is opened on 1st June 1908. Immediately after the 1920 St Andrews Open, Braid, Fernie, Taylor and Vardon travel overnight by train to Oban… This is ‘to fulfil an arrangement made some time ago’. The Oban Times gives a detailed account of the golf, and says that the course was ‘laid out by Mr Bontein of Glencruitten’. Now it would be unusual, though not without precedent, for an owner of land to design a golf course…”
The authors go on to question why Braid and the other three eminent professionals should open the course two years after it opened, hypothesizing that perhaps Braid either had had a hand in the design or that he suggested improvements after playing it. As they say, “it is a mystery yet to be solved.”Regardless of who actually designed the course, it is one of the most unique 18-hole layouts you will play anywhere, with blind shots galore, big dipper fairways and no fewer than ten par threes on the scorecard. “Hilly parkland” doesn’t come close to describing the course at Glencruitten and neither does “eccentric and sporting”. As unique golfing venues go, this is up there with the very best and not to be missed if you like your golf to be both entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable.
Very happy to see Glencruitten on the site ! An ideal place to play if en route from Machrihanish, The Machrie or Arran to the more numerous delights of the Highlands. We played in late Spring for a pittance, so didn't begrudge the damp conditions, and as always in out of the way Scotland we received a great welcome. Super fun, you'll get more exercise per yard than any other golf course other than Stewart Island, and don't forget some seafood on the harbour before heading North or South.
Now, that is a golf course! Heading back from days at Machrihanish to Glasgow Airport, we stopped at Glencruitten. Check your blood pressure medication to make sure it's up to date. I played with a friend...and on the first hole, the starter said, which was a clue to what was coming...."it takes 3 good shots to get on in 2!" And, by golly, he was right. Up the hill...no, way up the hill. Then, down the hill....no waay down the hill. Over and over. I likened it to trekking for gorillas. Fun, sometimes exhausting, and always interesting. Great grass and scenery. Try it. Nice Scots from Oban abound here...and it's great Scotch to drink too!
Glencruitten is a fascinating golf course I whole-heartedly recommend anyone should play.
It’s certainly not a course for the faint-hearted, in more ways than one, but will give you the chance to manufacture an infinite amount of different shots unlike you will get to experience anywhere else, especially on your ‘run of the mill’ type course.
And whilst it’s a course that I can imagine some people (the unadventurous) wouldn’t like… I absolutely loved it.
Despite its modest length of just 4,434 yards the course plays much longer than this which is in large part due to its par of 62, as well as a number of uphill shots; some of which bring a wide smile to your face.
Glencruitten is certainly a hard walking course – there’s no disguising that – with many changes in elevation during the entire round. I can’t really recall a flat hole, but this is what makes it so exciting, at times amazingly crazy and quirky golf…
The layout and routing of the course is bewildering and how such a fun and challenging course was designed over this stunning terrain, in the heart of Glencruitten Estate, is a real credit to the designer; the famous James Braid. I would have loved to have been there in the early 1900’s to observe how it was routed.
Glencruitten also came across as a really friendly club. We were welcomed warmly and after chatting to a group of members it was clear they are very proud of their unique course.
If one is ever staying in Oban playing here is an opportunity not to be missed but Glencruitten is also a course I would recommend you travel further afield from to sample. It’s an absolute gem of a golf course in Argyll.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.