The clubhouse at Machrihanish was completely destroyed by a fire the week before Christmas last year – though I was told firefighters somehow managed to salvage most of the club’s medals, trophies and memorabilia – so it goes without saying the club has endured a really tough start to 2019.
I’m happy to say I’ve seen the plans for the new 2-storey building that will replace the old clubhouse and this modern design will completely transform the club’s fortunes when work is completed by the end of next year. In the meantime, it’s business as usual with temporary changing facilities and offices operating from the car park.
Two recent staff appointments will also stand the club in good stead going forward into a bright new era: Jennie Dunn is one of the few female Head Professionals currently working in Scottish golf and Craig Barr is an experienced Head Greenkeeper who’s already making his mark on course conditioning.
Out on the course, a few of the greens on the front nine have to be seen to be believed, especially those at the 2nd, 3rd and 6th – but it could be said the heaving contours of the putting surfaces merely match the turbulent undulations of the fairways leading to these greens!
The playing corridors on the outward half lie closest to the coastline and they constitute the best sequence of holes on the card – and don’t expect anything like an even lie on any of the fairways from the 3rd to the 8th as they rise and fall dramatically across a fabulous dune landscape.
Onto the back nine, and it begins with a couple of really strong par fives which are played either side of a rather nondescript par three. Both fairways on these 3-shot holes pinch in severely between the tee and the green, placing a premium on accuracy with the second shot.
The march for home continues with back-to-back par threes at holes 15 and 16 before the tee shot at the 17th brings play down from the sand hills onto flatter ground adjacent to the 1st and 2nd. I can understand if some feel it’s a bit of an anti-climactic finish (especially after what’s gone before) but you can only route the course over the landscape that’s available.
My away day to Machrihanish was made complete by a chat with the legendary Belle Robertson, British Ladies Amateur Champion in 1981 and 9-time Curtis Cup representative, who’s now in her 84th year and looking as sprightly as ever, I might add.
She told me the Championship layout was in as good condition as she’d ever seen it but she also reminded me visitors shouldn’t overlook her original home course at Dunaverty, located a 20-minute drive away at Southend, on the tip of the Kintyre peninsula.
Good advice (which I sadly failed to heed on this occasion) from a woman that can still easily beat her age with her score on the golf course.
Date: May 12, 2019