Machrihanish (Championship) - Argyll & Bute - Scotland

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


  • +44 (0)1586 810213

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..

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Reviews for Machrihanish (Championship)

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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: 8.8 out of 10 Reviews: 47
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John Brady
Having heard so much about Machrihanish, I first played it over a weekend in early 2010, and have returned 4 times since. It's a long drive from Glasgow (3 hours) for a day trip but well worth it, best to make a weekend of it. First comment I would add is that the course is always in fantastic condition, the only other "always" is that there is a stiff breeze but having played the course 10 times this year, the direction/speed always varies which makes it such a different game of golf you play every time you play. 1st tee is just the best; no golf course will beat it. Going over the beach is risk and reward but very fair. Everyone will have their favourite hole and I have heard numerous discussions about what is the best, I don't get involved, simply because, other than the last 2 holes, you can put up a fantastic case for any of the 1st 16 holes, they are all that good. Don't take my comment re last 2 holes as a criticism. They are still great holes, just not as good as the rest. 17 has OB on left, rough on right, narrow fairway so still a stiff test. Last hole runs parallel with 1st on right and OB on left. As such, it let's you wind up and go for an outrageous draw to try and drive the green. You also have the advantage that you can see the clubhouse on the 17th tee, for the 1st time since the 3rd tee, so you are close to a refreshing beer, or two.I've read the comments re OBs coming into play. The only 2 holes which OBs can bite you are the last 2 holes. If you are OB anywhere else then you can't complain as you need to hit a right stinker to catch them. I have played numerous courses all over the UK, Spain, and Portugal etc. Machrihanish is number 1, absolutely no doubt about it. Anyone who visits Scotland, as well as all UK golfers, need to play it.
October 13, 2010
10 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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Tom Moore
In mid-June I made my 3'rd trip to Machrihanish in the last 20 years. The weather had been dry and the course was running. The course is very, very good. The turf was fine even in such dry conditions. There are a couple of criiticisms: the course has several internal out of bounds--on the front as well as the back. Also, on an approach to a blind green on the front nine, the aiming pole is not remotely accurate. My strongest impression was that Mach is changing---with more tourism and Machrihanish Dunes now open, I got the feeling that many of the members and townspeople may have preferred the old Machrihanish. Twenty years ago, the American author Bamberger wrote in To the Linksland about the magic of the place---I don't know if he would still find it today.
July 12, 2010
8 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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Dewi Henderson
July 12, 2010
Since Machrihanish is my favourite golf course I thought I'd comment on the negative aspects of the above review. I'm glad the reviewer thought the course was "very, very good" and agree that some people have an issue with the increased tourism the course receives (opinion seems to be divided on this one). I was a bit confused by the reviewer stating that the course has "several internal out of bounds". Only on two of the holes on the course have I been aware of OB coming into play - the 3rd and the 17th (the OB on the 18th is for extreme snap hookers only). If you define an "internal OOB" as one that partitions a part of the course from another part of the SAME course then there are no internal OOB. On the 3rd the OB delimits the course from the practice area and is a mild OB since the fairway is wide and generous. On the 17th the OB forms the boundary between the old course and the Pans course. This OB is a toughie and, although some people may consider it artificial, I like the challenge of the narrow fairway with trouble left and trouble right! To state "several internal out of bounds" is inaccurate in my opinion. For the "aiming pole" referred to by the reviewer (presumably for either the 3rd or the 7th hole) for approach shots, such poles should be taken with a pinch of salt anyway - their accuracy (as an alignment guide) depends on where the approach is taken from (as in the parallax effect in physics!). I find both poles to be very useful as (only) a reference guide when approaching these greens.
Dewi Henderson
July 12, 2010
In my above response I refer twice to the 3rd hole when I actually meant the (excellent) 2nd hole. Sorry!
charles reppke
August 06, 2010
I was interested to read this review and the response from dewi .I am a member at machrihanish having been brought up playing the course.I recall that mr bamberger particularly commented on the welcome and the interest that members had in how visitors found the course and how they had played.The course is certainly better known these days and is easier to get to but the essential aspects remain' the wonderful links course and the local members still take the same interest in visitor reaction to the course that so captured the imagination and respect of michale bamberger all those years ago.I believe that were he to return today he would still adhere to his conclusion that if he could only play one course for the rest of his life it would be machrihanish .
kcbritton
Make the drive and just go play it. It is one of the most stunning drives I have ever made to include Big Sur. Once you get there, it is even better than the drive. Plan to play it at least twice. It has so many bumps and rolls, you need a second round just to begin to understand the course. It is simply one of the all time best courses I have played.
July 09, 2010
10 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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Joey Chase
I played at Machrihanish in August on a fifteen day tour of Scottish courses. Playing 36 per day, we arrived in Campelltown and found a nice B&B outside of town and found our way to the links. It is somewhat unassuming at first, but as with many of the great courses I've been blessed to play it has that special something. The pro shop is quite small but could there be a more spectacular setting? Of course the first tee shot is what is so often spoke of and is all of it and more. The 1st green is classic links sunken into the land with a taste of the wild greens to come. While we were playing the round,with the expansiveness of the property made us feel small and quite alone. It has been written in some of the other reviews that the last two are a let down? I found them to be an opportunity to reflect on the round,and possibly recover a shot from the other 16. This place is more than just hype and a remote location. It is an absolute must for any real lover of links golf. After playing 36 for two weeks straight I am most excited to return to Machrihanish.
January 19, 2010
10 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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Keith Baxter
Bagpipes, haggis and kilts are synonymous with Scottish culture and tradition and Machrihanish is one of the most traditional and quintessentially Scottish courses I have ever played. Prestwick, North Berwick and, of course, St Andrews are also traditional but the remote location of Machrihanish somehow takes the authentic shortbread biscuit. Much has been written about the opening hole that is a daunting prospect, especially from the back tee, which sits in splendid isolation under the rear window of the Pro shop. From here, the long sweep of the beach looks formidable and I am sure many balls have ended up on the shore. When I played here this autumn, the course was quiet and it felt not only remote but also rather eerie. The first 16 holes firmly hold your attention and back-to-back par threes at 15 and 16 are a talking point. A few blind shots did not detract from my enjoyment and the challenge was supreme. Most courses do not possess 18 great holes and the same is true of Machrihanish. The closing two holes unfortunately come at the wrong time and left me slightly disappointed as I putted out on the last, they seem somewhat out of character with the first sixteen. This is certainly one of the most natural courses I’ve played where most things feel right and I think if Machrihanish finished as strongly as it started it would be sublime.
November 13, 2009
8 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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Shaun
October 11, 2010
Good review which captures my thoughts on a fine course.
Patrick McGarey
Played on a calm, clear Saturday morning in October 2009 and was very glad I made the effort. A number of very challenging holes, and either a caddy or a second round would have saved some trouble on several blindish shots over dunes. I agree that this in one of the real classics - much better priced than Open venues such as The Old Course, Carnoustie, Troon and Turnberry - but equally essential (along with the glorious Prestwick and Machrie) in terms of fully surveying old-fashioned Scottish links. As noted by others, a round at the nearby, shortish Dunaverty Golf Club near the Mull of Kintyre in Southend is a worthwhile second round in this area. Basically an executive course layout, with terrain equal to Pebble Beach (or Cruit Island in rural County Donegal, Ireland). Dunaverty would be a $200 green fee in the U.S. based on scenery alone.
October 19, 2009
10 / 10
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Pat Garrett
October 27, 2009
I have played Machrihanish since 1962 with my friends. It is the most magnificent test of golf in all weathers. The welcome is second to none and the resident pro Ken Campbell carries on the great tradition. Surely one of the greatest tests of golf in Scotland. I look forward to next year from my home in Northumberland to arrive at Wreck Cottage and attempt to overcome this truly magnificent course.
Andy-Webbo
I had the pleasure of playing this course in August. I rose at 530am and took the drive from Loch Lomond on a perfect sunny Scottish morning. The 2hr 20min drive around the Lochs with the stunning scenery was worth it alone before I arrived at Campbeltown and took a right to Machrihanish. I had read the reviews on this web page and agree with the warmth of welcome by both the pro and the steward. I had traveled and intended to play alone if necessary but the steward said he would ask and see if one of the members would partner me. By the time breakfast was eaten I had a partner. Another visitor shortly followed by another and we had a three ball, all organised by the Steward, fantastic!The opening tee shot over the beach is fantastic and the carry varies depending on the angle you take. I knew it was going to be a good day there was hardly any wind and I murdered a drive across the tightest angle into the middle of the fairway.Miss the fairways and you are in trouble. The fairways are immaculate and hardly look like there have been golf shots played off them. The greens can be difficult but are quick and very firm and very true. The second shot to the second is to a blind raised green. Fortunately one of my partners knocked it to a foot for a certain birdie. The view from this high point is fantastic across the bay. Nearly a hole in one for me on the 4th a tricky short par three “Jura”, a dog leg 5th Punchbowl with mounds that fool the eyes to think it is longer than it is then a short par 4. For the first time in my life I managed three birdies on the bounce!!! Around the turn the views get better and better but accuracy and course management are put to the ultimate test in this out and back course. The wind began to get up and suddenly I could see that this course will bite in inclement weather. The back nine, borders Campbeltown airport. Prince Andrew was stationed here whilst in the Navy. He is a honourary member of the club and his photos adorn the walls of the clubhouse. I can think only of St Annes Old Links, which borders Blackpool airport, as another course with that borders an airport. IT is also where you fly into from Glasgow airport and at £115 for a return flight and a round has to be exceptional value.The two par fives 10 and 12 are both of a high quality especially the 10th. This is followed by Strabane a long par 3, guarded by several bunkers. Castlehill the stroke index 1 14th is a tough hole, then the 16th a long par 3 Rorke’s Drift, a tough hole, with a raised green and steep drop off areas. I have read that 17 and 18 are “ordinary” holes. This is rubbish in my view. You have just had sixteen tough, holes superbly crafted from the natural landscape you deserve a little relief. They are no means easy anyway. Hit a wayward drive and you will do well to get down in par. If you have a score after Rorke’s drift then let’s see how you play the two “easy, ordinary” last two? I think not. As for my partners, Scott and Chris thanks for a great day. We will play together again one day. We all agreed the mark of a great golf course is one where having just played a full round, could you walk back immediately onto the first tee and play it again? Machrihanish certainly is one of those courses. A classic.
September 26, 2009
10 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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Craig Morrison
People rightly say the 18th is an average hole. They also mention 17 and, again, they might be right. But I’ve heard 16 spoken about too in such a capacity. How can anyone say anything bad about Rorke’s Drift, the long par three? The first hole of course has much made of it and quite rightly so. The drive is glorious, especially from the far back and left tees. But the approach fizzles out a wee bit, though the green's a good one. However, the second hole, which seems to be somewhat forgotten with everyone talking about the stretch of holes ‘from 3 to the turn’, is, I feel, a classic hole. I love the approach, hitting high onto the sand dunes where the rest of Machrihanish’s best holes are to be found.

Yes, get down here and play some golf. It’s very otherworldly, very very lovely. The front nine is perhaps the most interesting stretch of holes I’ve ever encountered. The greens are fabulous rollercoaster affairs. They’re not especially fast though in my experience. When Greg Norman visited (touching down on the first tee in his helicopter having given about 45 minutes notice) he stopped putting after a few holes because he was practising for The Open and the greens were miles slower than he’d get at Troon or Turnberry or wherever it was. In fact, I say the greens are rollercoaster affairs. But according to a book by Alister MacKenzie they’re nothing like as rollercoaster as they once were. If that’s what you’re after, go to the new neighbouring Machrihanish Dunes. It’s an amazing course. Check out the 13th green for the undulating putting experience. Then feast your eyes on 14, one of the most fun par 3s anywhere. 15 is a similarly excellent one-shotter. If I say Machrihanish itself has the most interesting consecutive nine holes of any I know then perhaps Machrihanish Dunes has the most interesting three holes of anywhere I know (until I get to Amen Corner anyway). ANGLOSCOT
August 19, 2009
8 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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Tim Gorman
Played 3 rounds here August 2008. Ludicrously good value for money @ £80 for a day ticket. Welcome in pro shop and clubhouse very warm. Welcome form taxi-driver from airfield to clubhouse a real throwback, he rang the caterer @ clubhouse to organise bacon rolls, all on first-name basis. Welcome from God, overwhelming, he laid on a blessed 2 days on a natural classic links - I agree the last 2 holes are a bit weak with another course sharing the inland bondary. Even the quirk of having landing lights on 9 and 10 seems fitting. I must mention the flight over which was a special experience (don't stop pedalling) and the airfield - to call it an airport would be misleading. It must be the smallest airport building in the world coupled with one of the longest runways...Tim Gorman
February 27, 2009
10 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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Martin Jordan
I had yearned to play this course for so long and even though it was a bleak winter’s day when I finally got to play here, it lived up to its hype and more. I could easily write my review with 5 simple words: Machrihanish is absolute golfing heaven. No more is needed. But what a crap review that would be (well more crap than my normal reviews). This course deserves every glowing testimonial it receives and itwas well worth every second of the 6 hour round trip. The first thing I saw on arrival at the course was the fabled 1st hole which, I admit was a wee bit of disappointing (oh my God I am committing golfing sacrilege) because I didn’t realise that there is a significant bail out area should you choose to take it. I was always under the impression that you had no choice but to take on the Atlantic Ocean but that is not necessarily the case. However, if you take the death or glory route it is one hell of an adrenalin rush, the kind of which would put laxative manufacturers out of business. The magic just flows from here, as there is not really a weak hole on the front 9 perhaps, the par 3, 4th being the weakest and holes 5 through 8 absolutely breathtaking with words hopelessly inadequate to describe their brilliance. The back 9, normally played into a hostile prevailing wind, is not as aesthetically pleasing. True to form the day we played it was so bleak that even Heathcliff and Cathy would have stayed in doors. It just inspired me to battle on, pitching myself against the likes of the 12th and 16th holes which, for me, where the outstanding holes of the inward half. Machrihanish is an old fashioned throw back in time it has a fairytale magic due to its remote location making it a course you simply must experience. You will never regret it or forget it MPPJ
February 02, 2009
8 / 10
Machrihanish (Championship)
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