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Great links golf for everyone
It's the sea and the sand and the wind and the grazing animals. These are the variables that formed the land and created the landscape most suited for Scottish links golf.
In the southwest corner of the Mull of Kintyre a perfect blend of these separate circumstances joined together over the centuries to create a landscape perfectly suited for true links golf: the original and purest form of the ancient game of golf. And on it sits Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club.
This is the first golf course to have been built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSi) since the days of Scotland’s greatest golf architect Old Tom Morris himself. David McLay Kidd, who is internationally acclaimed for his design of Bandon Dunes in Oregon and the The Castle Course at St. Andrews, and who grew up playing on these very dunes was entrusted with the task of creating a golf course on the site. He responded with an inspired routing measuring 7,175 yards and featuring six greens and five tees at the ocean's edge.
Mach Dunes is quintessential a links golf course. They just don't get any "linksier". David McLay Kidd had to use all of his incredible skills to wind this golf course through the natural terrain under the restrictions of the Scottish Natural Heritage which dictated that, other than building greens and tees, no earth could be moved. Keep in mind that fully 300,000 yards of earth had to be moved to create Kingsbarns and that, other than tees and greens, zero earth was moved to create Macrahainsh. If there's a hall of fame for golf course architects, David McLay Kidd gets my vote.
The golf course snakes its way through natural depressions and moguls and bumps. Every hole is wild, every hole is natural, every hole is visually stunning. And I mean every hole. As you play the golf course you feel as if you'll see a fourball coming over the hills carrying canvas golf bags filled with mashies and niblicks and asking you if you've seen their gutta percha golf ball.
Straight driving is at a premium so that you'll get a good second shot at the green. There are a few blind shots, however, that you'll just have to live with. But, as in typical links golf, if you're tee shot is off line, your approach will be much more difficult.
The greens…ahh…the greens! I think if you could dig up the greens you'd be a rich man because they seem to be filled with ivory tusks from all the elephants buried under them. They have some amazing breaks most of which you won't see so sharpen up your short game.
The course flows along the sea, but the location of the tees and greens was dictated by the land itself. And because of the fragility of its environment the course was built and must be maintained with great sensitivity. Only 7 acres of the 260 acres were shaped by humankind—just tees and greens. The fairways were only mown shorter. This lack of earth movement has dictated an unconventional layout and has helped its quickly-growing reputation as a “must play” because the unusual routing leaves many blind shots to strategically placed greens.
Mach Dunes is as pure a links course that you’ll ever play, and it hearkens back two centuries when the only way to play links golf was to “…keep your putts low to the ground, laddie.”
This is the true essence of the game at its most basic -- golfer against the golf course with the natural contours of the land aided by the elements deciding who will win. True links golf lies in adapting to the ever-changing decisions of how to get your ball from where it lies into a hole that is protected by bumps and gullies and streams and wind. Machrihanish Dunes, like all good links courses, demands creativity and imagination.
For the complete story, be sure to click on the YouTube link above. David McLay Kidd, the architect himself who actually grew up playing on these very dunes, narrates the video.
See also our write up on Macrahanigh Golf Club located right next to Mach Dunes.
For What to Do All Day as well as Where to Stay, please see Machrihanish.
However, we do hear good recommendations for the Ugadale Cottages, located right here in the Village of Machrihanish Dunes. Especially reommended for larger groups.
And by all means take a look at this --