Machrihanish (Championship) - Argyll & Bute - Scotland

Machrihanish Golf Club,
Machrihanish,
Campbeltown,
Argyll,
PA28 6PT,
Scotland


  • +44 (0)1586 810213

  • Margaret Wylie

  • Charles Hunter, Old Tom Morris, J.H. Taylor, Sir Guy Campbell

  • Jennie Dunn

The small village of Machrihanish is situated on the western side of the remote Kintyre Peninsula; this is where the sky is big, the sunsets are dramatic and the air has been warmed by the Gulf Stream. Nearby Campbeltown was once the whisky capital of the world, but today only the Springbank distillery remains in full operation.

In 1876, the Kintyre Golf Club was founded; and in November of that year, Charles Hunter, the Prestwick professional, rearranged the course and extended it to twelve holes. Old Tom Morris then left his stamp on the links in 1879. The members felt that Kintyre was too ordinary a name for such a special golf course, so they changed it to the resonant Machrihanish in 1888.

The course was modified again in 1914 by J.H. Taylor and Sir Guy Campbell made further alterations when several holes around the turn were lost due to development work at the Campbeltown airport site next door.

This links must be one of the most natural, romantic and most enjoyable places to play golf in the whole of the British Isles. It’s not long, grand or a championship course, but it is sheer fun. It’s got an outstanding front nine and a thrilling start. The first, called “Battery”, is one of the best opening holes in golf, a teasing 423-yard par four with an elevated tee on the edge of the shore. The fairway hugs the beach and we must drive diagonally across it. How heroic can we afford to be with our very first tee shot? The beach is in play, not out-of bounds. But dare we play our second shot from amongst the seashells?

Machrihanish is not just about one great opening hole – the front nine is exceptional and the entire experience is magical. The greens are firm, fast, true and are positioned in the most varied of locations. Some are sunk in punchbowls whilst others are on a raised plateau or flattened dune tops. There are blind tee shots, fabulous sea views, undulating rippling fairways and exciting rugged dunes.

You have to make an extra special effort to get to Machrihanish, but it is worth it. The welcome is extraordinarily friendly and the golf is extraordinary. Expect to leave this place with a broad smile on your face... additionally, the results of a Top 100 survey suggest that Machrihanish is one of the best value golf courses in Britain..

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Machrihanish (Championship)

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Machrihanish Golf Club must be one of the most natural, romantic and enjoyable places to play golf in the whole of the British Isles. It’s not long, but it's sheer fun... Rating: 5.4 out of 6 Reviews: 44

Self proclaimed “the best opening hole in golf” Machrihanish Golf Club makes good on its boast. A long par f where your tee shot has to carry a small part of the Atlantic Ocean (depending upon the tide). It is truly a question of how much do you want to chew off on this 430 yard par 4 dogleg left. As intimidating as the first hole is it really gets tough when you get to the 2nd. A straight away par 4 at 390+ yards over a burn to an elevated green. Par this and you are off to a good start. Three -Six are your birdie opportunities with the 4th a short par 3 with a table top green, the 5th a par 4 with a punchbowl green and the 6th a short par 4. It was here that the worst weather of our trip hit. Temperature dropped ten degrees and the wind was pushing balls that had been at rest on the greens. We muddled on.

The 7th is a long uphill par four the number 2 handicap hole. The 8th is a birdie oppty especially if the pin is back. Alas, the pin was up and my approach was back, ^%&^$%^#^&*. Compared to other old school Scottish links courses, there are not a lot of bunkers, but I did manage to find the bunker short right on 9 and then proceeded to thin it into one of the three bunkers on the left.

The 10th is the first par five and it is a good one. Left off the tee is better with a blind second shot between the dune cleavage. The 11th is a straight forward 200 yard par 3. The 12th is the last par 5 and it plays longer than it appears, avoid the gunch short of the hole. On the par 4 13th there isa big ass bunker in the middle of the fairway that I encourage you to avoid. The 14th is the number one handicap hole. Long with moguls in the fairway that will play havoc with your lie. Back to back par 3s on 15 and 16 with the latter weighing in at 230 yards. I failed to get there with a well struck driver.

The finishing holes are disappointing. I was told that the 18th used to play longer, but when the road was put in the tee and the green were repositioned. This was our final round of the trip, 15 courses in 7 days. The front 9 of Machrihanish rival any of the others that we played. We all had birdie putts on 18 but it was not meant to be. A great finish to a great trip. I really liked Machrihanish. It is really remote and you have to be committed to get there. The locals are proud of this and more than one pointed out that the Beatles “Long and Winding Road” was how Linda McCartney described the road to Machrihanish.

The course is not long and is very playable with a variety green that keeps you wanting more. A very enjoyable golf course. Once teleportation is perfected, I will go back.

5 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
November 14, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review

This is a stunning golf course and yes, it may well boast the best opening hole in golf ! Interesting and fun but also tough. Short hitters will struggle as there are many carries off the tee to be negotiated. Good variety of holes in terms of length and the directional flow. There were a number of wow holes amongst the dunes. Only 2 "other" comments would be that all the fairways had a huge coverage of daisies on them which diminished the aesthetics. Also, the closing hole is perhaps on the bland side. Notwithstanding this, I absolutely loved the course.

5 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
May 20, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Response
Mark R Sellergren
August 05, 2018

Glad you loved playing it. As have I. A friend and I spent a week in July, 2018, when it was as dry as a bone but the greens always delightful. I've played when it's had rain, wind, breezes and drought - to me, it is a wonderful challenge no matter the conditions, each round different. Love this links layout and hope to visit several more times before my ashes are spread over the links. Ugadale and its accommodations have really spruced it up - if you like golf, make the trip to Machrihanish. You will never regret it.

I waited a long time for the first visit to Machrihanish and was luckily graced with great windy weather and perfect conditions.

Above and beyond all the experience is Machrihanish (Championship) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer very quaint and the setting idealistic for a game of traditional links golf. The first hole often described and declared to be the best starting hole in the world is naturally all about the tee shot. Given we were playing into a 30 mph headwind from the left we had to be rather careful about cutting off a little less than we visually thought we could take on. There is no debating it’s one of the more spectacular first tee shots in the game and a great experience. I was less impressed by the first hole in its entirety however as the rest of the first hole is basically flat with extremely gentle undulations.

The second hole may even be more Machrihanish (Championship) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer spectacular as it requires a solid tee shot and on our day a great approach to the tricky green up on the hill. From there I would say the course just keeps improving on the front 9 and throws an entire run of excellent holes as you work your way out to the turn.

I’ll admit to being slightly less excited about the back 9 and am happy we played the course with significant wind. It’s a fun, classic links test and should be experienced by all golf nuts but it’s also very gentle by nature and really built to be played in the windy conditions that often exist down this way.

My favorite holes coming back in were Machrihanish (Championship) Golf Course - Photo by reviewer probably the par 3 16th and the par 4 17th which has the golfer teeing it up from the top of the large dune with a great view on a tricky hole.

The coolest part of the 18th hole is that the village is the backdrop. The slightly raised green also makes for an interesting approach.

The Ugadale Hotel and Old Pub must be one of the world’s best golf accommodations, ideally located across the street with wonderful lodging and the absolute perfect location. I wouldn’t think of staying anywhere else when heading down that direction.

5 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
February 22, 2018


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful
Respond to above review

Playing at The Machrihanish Golf Club is perhaps not as romantic a prospect as it was several years ago. None-the-less it’s a fabulous golfing experience.

Located close to the bottom tip of the Kintyre Peninsula near Campbeltown its remoteness, and therefore its magical appeal, is not as obvious as it perhaps was decades ago. Getting there, either by land, sea or air is a much easier (and quicker) task than it was in years gone by.

A new kid on the block, Machrihanish Dunes built in the last few years and undoubtedly another top class links course, also means that the original Machrihanish no longer stands in splendid isolation.

There’s no denying that both of the above points are advantageous for both the traveling golfer and the Club itself but Machrihanish is now no more remote (read magical) than many other first class links courses in the UK. Growing up as a child and hearing about Machrihanish it always seemed that it was this mysteriousness that made it so special.

None of the above actually makes any difference to the golf course though and I can vouch that a round at Machrihanish is almost as good as it gets. The drive down from Fort William we made that morning to play the course was equally as satisfying.

Dubbed the greatest opening tee-shot in Scottish golf the drive at the first hole, over the beach or sea depending upon the tide, is certainly iconic but may not be quite as fearsome as it was in the days of hickory clubs and without the benefits of the modern golf ball. Still, it’s a terrific tee shot where you must bite off as much as you dare for a better angle of approach down the left.

The marrow of the course at Machrihanish, the part that really delivers, is the run of holes from the third through to the 15th.

Sadly the course doesn’t quite keep the momentum going until the very end. The 16th, the second of back-to-back par three’s doesn’t quite work for me whilst holes 17 and 18 return to the flatter land adjacent to the opening two holes.

The finish does leave a slight sour taste in your mouth but only because what came before it was so good and you just wish that it had continued to deliver over the final three holes. Regardless of this a visit to Machrihanish is a must for any serious golfer who has a love for pure links golf.

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

5 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
June 14, 2017


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful and 1 did not
Respond to above review

This is an outstanding course and one of the best links to be found in Scotland. We played there in September under the best conditions you could imagine. Sunny, 20 degrees and a slightly breeze from the Irish Sea. The first hole is classy and the following five holes a amazing as well. No really bad hole on this course even the often as bad holes mentioned closing holes. In the same league like Portrush or Aberdeen. A Must Play course!

6 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
October 09, 2016


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
2 people found this review helpful and 1 did not
Respond to above review
Thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to Machrihanish, Played it at the start of September in a testing breeze. Several very good holes and many opportunities to play proper links golf. A bit disappointed with the Opening tee shot, you can hit it a long way right and there is no real penalty for not taking the challenge of hitting over the Atlantic, very poor and disappointing last three holes makes you leave the course on an unfortunate low, which is a shame for what has gone before.
4 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
September 26, 2015


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
For the vast majority of golfers Machrihanish is a difficult place to get to, certainly by car from Cheshire, but to any lover of traditional links golf I would say make the effort at least once. Right from the off the course presents a stiff challenge with a terrific Machrihanish (Championship) Golf Course - Photo by revieweropening tee shot over the beach. Try to bite off too much and you could well be playing your second from the sand which is very much in play. The front nine are a magnificent stretch of holes offering typically undulating links fairways with superb greens nestled amongst the dunes. There are none of the huge dunes so typical of the west coast of Ireland but there is still plenty of excitement to be had playing this beautifully routed course. Humps and hollows, a snaking burn, punchbowl greens and with the odd blind shot thrown in for good measure, you will find all that is good about links golf at Machrihanish. A couple of holes on the back nine are perhaps not quite of the same high standard but this does not alter the fact that this is a wonderful course fully deserving its lofty position in the GB&I rankings. Brian W
5 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
August 13, 2015


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
The 1st hole is claimed by many to be the best opening hole anywhere. I would not dispute that, ‘Battery’ is a par four of 436 yards. The tee shot is literally a carry of between 150-200 yards across the Atlantic. The problem is really in knowing how much of the corner you can bite off, especially when the wind is blowing.

The well bunkered 3rd hole is the start of some holes that feel quite unique. You are so far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that you are drawn in to admiring the harsh beauty and the pattern of the wispy grasses that form the rough. The 4th is a rather short par three in amongst the low dunes and wild grasses with the shoreline along the left.

The only weak parts of the course for me were the 17th and 18th holes which are rather flat and less interesting. Even so, you must negotiate the burn on the 17th and the 9-hole course which is out of bounds on the left of both holes.

Machrihanish is definitely one of my favourite links and should be rated right up there in the very top echelon of top Scottish courses. There is a lovely ambience in the clubhouse which is located over the road from the first tee. The fairways and bunkers are always in excellent condition and the greens are nothing short of superb.

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.
6 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
April 08, 2015


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
1 person found this review helpful
Respond to above review
This is one of the more isolated courses on the Top 100 list. For those of you in Ireland, I recommend taking the Kintyre Express from Ballycastle over to Campbeltown which only takes 80 minutes. The opening tee shot over the beach is the highlight of Machrihanish (Championship) Golf Course - Photo by reviewerthe round and it lived up to its reputation. Putting this golf course into perspective, it’s located in a remote part of the world with relatively rural facilities and not much budget. Meadow grass, daisies, buttercups and farmland are gracefully married to the sand-dunes that line the coastline. If a sheep walked across a fairway, you wouldn’t bat an eye-lid. At just 6400 yards from the tips, this golf course can be easily over-powered by modern technology. It has stood the test of time, and remained in the Rankings discussion due to its eternal connection with the hands of Old Tom Morris and his legendary ability to shape the land. Due to the isolation and primitive green-keeping amenities, this golf course was everything I expected it to be. It didn’t blow me away or offer much of a challenge to a scratch golfer by any means. People will flock here to experience ancient Scottish quirky golf with no shortage of blind shots.
4 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
June 19, 2014


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
2 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review
Response
RG
June 21, 2014
Unlike this reviewer I cannot comment from the perspective of a scratch player (chance would be a fine thing). I’m responding to the reviewer’s comment about Machrihanish’s length compared with modern technology. I consider myself to be a typical category 2 player (9 handicap, median driver length about 250yds using all the mod cons!). Machrihanish have the refreshing policy of allowing play from any of their three tees - they supply guidance as to which tee to use based on your handicap. For me, the 6500 yds of the blues is actually too tough (!) with the 6200 yds of the whites supplying a very significant challenge, especially when the wind blows. In my opinion, adding an extra 20-30 yards to my driver length would not improve my score here. For an improvement in scoring, it’s the type of course that requires me to increase my IQ rating by 20-30 points! In my opinion, it’s one of Scotland’s greatest.
Drumlemen
June 24, 2014
I am surprised as how easy the scratch golfer found Machrihainish as Mr Eric Brown , one of Scotland''s greatest ever golfers was over par over 4 rounds when he contested the Scottish Professional Championship in 1969 when the course measured no more than 6228 yards.There again , it depends if the wind blows. I caddied for a very good American professional golfer in 2008 and he just broke 100 over 18 holes. He said it was some of the most fun one had on a golf course even though his score was bad.
WOW!!! Its an eight hour drive from Manchester to Machrihanish and I would do it every weekend if my wife would let me. I've played all over the world and Machrihanish is now No.1 after my visit this weekend. The course is so very special and the people and especially the staff at the golf club made it even more amazing. Everyone talks about the opening hole but to be honest it's really after this that things become so mind blowingly gorgeous. If you don't mind the drive there, it will be considerable no matter where youre starting from, it is truly astounding. In fairness the journey by car is also very engaging so take youre time!
6 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
April 30, 2014


Was this review helpful? Yes / No
0 people found this review helpful
Respond to above review