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: 5.4 out of 6 Reviews: 44
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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
6 / 6
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
5 / 6
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
6 / 6
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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
6 / 6
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
5 / 6
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
6 / 6
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
5 / 6
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Jim McCann

I returned to play here just over six years after first playing the course and the weather was not so kind this timeMachrihanish - Photo by Jim McCann (not that I expected to play in short sleeves in mid December right enough) with rain falling during the last six holes played.

I loved the 2nd, with the green perched on a mound over the burn but was disappointed to find the 4th had a temporary green on. Holes 6 and 8 are great par fours and all in all, the front nine is as good an outward half of golf that you’ll find.

If I’m honest, the back nine was a slight let down (maybe the weather played its part in dampening my spirits) but I felt the rhythm of the round was broken by playing two par fives at holes 10 and 12, then playing back-to-back par threes at 15 and 16.

I’ve no real complaints about the closing two holes as I think they are an excellent way to finish the round with no gimmicky final flourish. Greens were great for the time of year so all in all there was little room for complaint, especially after tucking into another bowl of soup from the famed urn in the corner of the clubhouse – simple golfing pleasures are hard to beat!

Jim McCann

December 16, 2008
4 / 6
Machrihanish (Championship)
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gerard mahood
Played this course on a warm calm day.From the elevated 1st tee we could see this was going to be a good course and we were not disappointed which was good news due to the drive to get there. Highly recommended although do agree with previous comments about the last two holes being uninspiring. Used Dunaverty course as a warm up ,which is a neat little course. Gerry
August 25, 2008
6 / 6
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john
The first time I played here I stood on the first tee and hit a 3 wood, wedge to 6 feet and holed for a birdie. Another day staring across the beech to the distant fairway, buffeted by a 40mph headwind it was a solid driver and 3 wood to get close! What a start and it just gets better and better! Each hole has its own unique character and as is the nature of links golf the challenge changes from day to day always teasing, testing and questioning the player. The one thing that remains constant is the quality and enjoyment of this test. This is raw and natural links golf where the course was made to fit the landscape and there is nothing artificial or contrived about this place. Uneven stances, blind shots, treacherous bunkers, impossible roller-coaster putts on slick, true windswept greens…such wonderfully frustrating pleasure! Each turn reveals a breathtaking vista from seascapes, to wind-tossed marram topped dunes, to mountainsides and the distant Isles of Jura and Islay and evokes an incredible feeling of timelessness and isolation. Also what a wonderfully friendly and relaxed club where what matters most is the love and enjoyment of the game of golf. Once you have visited Machrihanish golf will never be the same again!
August 13, 2008
6 / 6
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