The Isle of Islay is one of the bigger islands off Scotland’s west coast.
It is known as “The Queen of the Hebrides”
It’s main attractions are it’s malt whisky distillieries, and The Machrie Links.
You don’t accidentally stumble over to Islay- you have to make a determined effort to get there by plane or ferry.
The Machrie Links dates from 1891.
It is located on the coast in a dunescape perfect for links golf.
The links was originally designed by Willie Campbell and was known for the number of blind shots.
It was not a long course but tested the golfer’s shot making rather than brute strength.
Donald Steel modernised the links in the 1970’s.
However the more significant changes came after a change of ownership in 2011.
The newly refurbished hotel is one of the great golfing places getaways- it oozes quality without being 'over the top'.
The course was completely reimagined by architect and former golf professionalDJ Russell (who with partner Ian Woosnam is responsible for Archerfiield Links, The International in Amsterdam, and The Lighthouse Golf & Spa Resort in Bulgaria.)
While The Machrie still boasts a number of ‘blind’ shots, the fairways are wider and allow views of the pin from the more accurate tee shots.
The new course is more strategic, and more forgiving off the tee.
With a choice of tees, the course can play as long as 7024 yards off the back markers.
The blue tees at 6400 yards (and a course rating of 126) are very playable for regular golfers.
Length is one thing, but weather conditions are another.
We stayed a couple of nights and played twice.
In any sort of wind the course will provide a stiff test, but wide fairways and a number of shorter par 4’s put the emphasis on accuracy rather than length.
On the second day players will know the angles of approach and the strategic nature of the course will shine through.
It really helps to know the lines of approach because the green are nicely contoured. and some have quite a bit of movement.
The playing surfaces at The Machrie are immaculate for links golf making it a joy to play.
Notable holes include:
- hole 2 (Kintra), a par 5 with burn left of the fairway for the journey, and then around behind the green. The ideal tee shot from the elevated tees needs to 'take on' the burn- but to what extent?
- hole 7 (Achnamara), a short driveable par 4 to a green hidden behind a dune and sloping left to right
- hole 8 (Big Strand), a challenging par 4 with an approach over a huge swale to a wide three tiered green
- hole 9 (Ileach), a shortish downhill par 3 to a green nestled in the dunes beside the beach. (see pic top of page)
- hole 17 (Ifrinn), a short par 4 dog leg that demands an accurate tee shot to open up any reasonable approach to the green
- hole 18 (Machrie), a demanding par 5 littered with bunkers to challenge both the tee shot and second.
You have to be a real Travelling Golfer to journey to The Machrie to play golf.
The Isle of Islay is accessible by ferry or plane, and then a hire car to get around the island.
So it is an adventure to get there, even from Scotland.
But Aussies heading to The Machrie deserve a medal!
The Machrie is a real Scottish links by the sea.
We recommend you stay a couple of nights and play at least twice- it is indeed worth the effort.
Some may combine a stay at The Machrie with a quick visit to Ardfin.
The Travelling Golfer can tailor a golf trip to suit your group.
For suggested destinations see: Golf Destinations- Scotland
For further information on a tailored golf trip please enquire here: