This was my first visit to Machrahanish Dunes, and I have to say I really enjoyed the memorable experience! It is a great piece of rolling links land with many Swales and mounds to make you play different types of shot, and is ideal for chip-and-run approaches at the greens. The turf is beautiful to play on, and it felt like walking on a springy carpet at times. The day was not busy so I took my time to enjoy the day and the gorgeous scenery.
The 1st hole is a gentle dogleg opener of 260 yds. and I sent a blind 4 iron shot with hope in the direction of the green. My second shot required a good 9 iron which I played on to the correct level of the green for opening par. That got my mood set for the day. The putts were all tricky, and an interesting challenge, as the green surfaces follow the contours of this heaving links land. After a slog on the long par 5 3rd, I enjoyed the challenge of the shorter dogleg 4th. It is a truly lovely golf hole, and you have to find the fairway,which I did, running at an angle to your tee shot. The green is tucked away in a secluded dune, but I used a wedge to get the ball to within 6 feet for a great birdie. The par 3 5th and 6th are lovely holes too - one hitting towards the sea, and one away from the sea. No more than a 9 iron or perhaps a wedge is required here. A good drive on the 354 yd. 9th left me in the centre of the fairway, but facing a blind shot approach over a huge ridge. I played a strong 6 iron, which glanced the top of the ridge and went spinning forward to the fringe of the green, where I was relieved to make par for an outward 43.
Climbing to the top of the hill, you come to the 10th tee, which points downhill, giving a great view towards the entire coast, with Islay and Jura on the western horizon. The down hill tee shot is hit towards a lovely hidden punch bowl green, sheltered by a high dune, and here my chip and run shot luckily ended up 4ft. From the pin! The 11th -14th holes are strong, and take you south along the coast and offer plenty of challenge for straight driving,and accurate approaches. The bunkers are so natural looking, with their irregular shapes and long overhanging grasses. I only visited two, and got out of these ok. The par 5 16th is a long beast of 500 yds. running in an alley straight between two dune systems. It takes three good blows to reach the sloping green, and well done if you can get par - I took 6. I did not particularly like the closing two holes, as they cross confusing ground which is quirky to say the least, and difficult to judge because of lay up areas and blind ridges, but I stuck with it, although I bogeyed both for a closing 45 which gave me a round of 88. I left the course with a feeling of satisfaction, and having been challenged to play many different shots. I did enjoy the majority of this layout. I hope to return in the future to try and beat my score.
Date: February 05, 2016