You’ve just made the journey down the long, but beautiful Peninsula of Kintyre, or hopscotched on the Calenodian MacBrayne ferry to Arran then to Claonaig, and down through Campbeltown. You’re in Campbeltown, home to the Springbank Whisky Distillery, the oldest family owned distillery in Scotland, which makes more scotch whisky by hand than anyone in the world. You’re 10 miles north of the Mull of Kintyre, which Paul McCartney immortalized in the song, perhaps because he spent so much of his “off” time at his nearby High Park Farm. You’ve also reached the home to Machrihanish Golf Club, one of the older and most remote golf clubs in Scotland.
It’s a full four hours from Glasgow by car, although high speed ferries and puddle jumper airplanes cut the trip significantly, as it’s only 46 miles directly between Glasgow and Campbeltown. Take the time and make the drive, it will be forever etched in your memory. Once at the golf club, and like many golf courses in Scotland, there’s no practice range, so your first shot of the day will be what many consider the “the best opening hole in golf”-The Battery at Machrihanish.
The Club was originally formed in 1876 as a member designed 12 hole club, which then engaged Old Tom Morris in 1879 to create an 18 hole layout. On first laying his eyes on the land, Old Tom remarked that the “Good God Almighty must have had golf in mind when he made this land”. J.H. Taylor and Sir Guy Campbell were responsible for further design tweaking over the years, but quite frankly it’s hard to imagine improving on the layout as it is today. The setting is on ranging dunes along the beach going out, and inland coming home, with views out to the Hebridean Isles of Jura, Islay, and Gigha, a truly enchanting setting. The fairways are rolling, tight, with thick marram grasses just off, the greens smallish, with hidden pot bunkers laying just about where you want to place your shots.
Back to the first. It’s a stout 428 yarder with a stroke index of 3, a veritable bite off as much as you can chew shot across the Atlantic Ocean and beach. If the tide’s out, the beach is not OB, so you could find yourself in the largest sand trap in the world. The fairway is a narrow ribbon of short grass, which pinches off considerably the further you try to shave it off. The small green is protected by a couple of pot bunkers, and is perched up on approach, with the prevailing wind providing a steady crosswind inland. After the long drive to Machrihanish, the Battery will get your attention with the realization of the special golf course and setting you’re about to experience.
The trip to Machrihanish was never wasted, but is now a bit more interesting with the newly opened David McLay Kidd Machrihanish Dunes, which might have the best accommodations in the area, there’s also the Dunaverty Golf Club, a short, par 66 layout, very scenic with views to Sanda Island to the south, Ailsa Craig and Ayrshire to the east and Northern Ireland to the south.