Machrihanish Championship Course

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Had planned to get up to Machrihanish for a long awaited game around the famous links.

Would have liked to have made this into at least an overnight stay, but due to work and childcare we decided to go for a day trip and fit in 36 holes.

At only 3 hours drive from Glasgow, it was very much doable as a day trip and despite a cursory glance at flights - we decided driving was the most practical option.

Glad that we got a grand day for it, with broken cloud and a fair breeze that links golf was intended to be played in. Certainly part of the romance around the trip was the reward for an early start and a long journey and the course and weather played its part in that regard.

The course itself really is a work of art, which meanders through the dune system with some majestic sloping greens and firm links fairways. The 1st has a sign saying the best opening hole in the world. Personally think that's a bold claim, but it's certainly a good opening hole with the decision to make as to how much of the beach to cut off and even a good drive is likely to leave a 200 yard or so shot in.

The 2nd is a great hole, and one that would not be found on a modern course with a completely blind approach over a burn and a parapet to a sunken green. This is not the end of the blind shots, and there are quite a number of them on the course. However, they are only blind the 1st time you see them. The 4th is a devilish par 3 of only 114 yards or so. There was a swift crosswind which knocked our well struck shots well short of the hole, much to our amazement.

The course has a huge amount of charm and as I walked the fairways I found myself thinking that much of the landscape was almost exactly as it would have been when Old Tom was here over 100 years ago. And when you think of it being a remote location for a couple of Glaswegians, then in Old Tom's day - he was probably cowering in the corner of a fishing boat for 10 hours to make the trip from Prestwick.

In terms of playability - you certainly need to be launching it off the tee. A number of fairways are protected by a a few hundred metres of heavy seaside grasses in front of the tee and either side of the fairway. A mishit or a wayward shot is likely to be a lost ball.

The greens, were in the main, in good condition. We were surprised by them being a bit on the slow side, but in retrospect, that is probably the norm for very sloping greens in a windy landscape. The 3rd was the only green that was disappointing and was on the bumpy side. In reality, the greens are the star of the show. Only a well travelled links golfer will have played on similar surfaces. Huge sloping surfaces, false fronts, banks on each side... the course has it all. Indeed, there were at least 2 occasions where we had putts that you could have putted either side of the hole and used opposing slopes to feed the ball to the hole. Once you get the hang of it, a 2 putt isn't too tricky and it's all about the speed - but alas neither of us really holed much of note until the 18th - which is probably he flattest surface.

Plenty have been critical of the final 2 holes, which are rather flat and mundane in comparison to the rest of the course. In reality, they are still decent holes but they are lacking in much drama. However, 18 actually proved to be an exciting finishing hole for us on both rounds as chips were missed and putts were holed.

In the days since my trip I have pondered if the loss of courses of this type of design is a good or bad thing. Blind holes provide their own challenge, after you've played it once - you just have to commit to the line you think is best and make a good swing. But there is probably not a serious course designed this century with more than 1 or 2 blind shots, and most will have none. I'd imagine if Old Tom had been given the use of a JCB, he'd have put it to good use and a few mounds would have been moved to more playable positions. But as it is, places like Machrihanish are a throw back and I hope there is always room for courses like this and if any changes are made, they are sympathetic to the original style of design.
 
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DRW

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Nice write up. Greens are probably a reflection of the growing conditions we have had, Muirfields weren't great last week either due to I would imagine due to a lack of growth and cold ground temps ?

Machrihanish is a great course and some brilliant holes on it. Cant wait to go back on my next trip to that area.

The 2nd green iirc was like a valley, so all balls roll towards the middle/hole, bet over the years there has been quite a few eagles. Around 13th(?) there was par 5 that has a great shot between two set of dunes, very nice on the eye and stuck in the memory.

Was a make shift clubhouse in place currently ?
 

maxfli65

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Nice report. Played it way back in 2002, only time, before I'd got back into golf seriously, still had 80s Ram Tour Grind blades and a late 80s Taylor Made Burner driver. Can't remember too much about it tbh other than the opening drive and it being pretty breezy, needless to say it chewed me up, struggled on the day.

How does that course compare with the newish Dunes course next door?
 

patricks148

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I'm no course expert but i don't think blind holes were more of a thing back then than it is now. When they built some of these courses, as you say they had to move earth and shape by hand. plus you have to also consider golf was played with wooden clubs with hand made ball that didn't really fly very high in the air, blind shots would have been a bit of a gimmick still.

Of the links courses around here, only Tain (Old Tom Morris) has a blind shot, the 2nd to the 11th Alps,other than the two tee shots at Royal Dornoch, 8th and 17th, but i wouldn't say they where blind as such as you can still see the green
 
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Nice write up. Greens are probably a reflection of the growing conditions we have had, Muirfields weren't great last week either due to I would imagine due to a lack of growth and cold ground temps ?

Machrihanish is a great course and some brilliant holes on it. Cant wait to go back on my next trip to that area.

The 2nd green iirc was like a valley, so all balls roll towards the middle/hole, bet over the years there has been quite a few eagles. Around 13th(?) there was par 5 that has a great shot between two set of dunes, very nice on the eye and stuck in the memory.

Was a make shift clubhouse in place currently ?
Clubhouse is 3 port-a-cabins with toilets, showers and lockers. Sufficient for purpose.

When I called up to book I was told food was available at the 'old clubhouse'. This turned out to be a pretty nice wee pub called 'The Old Clubhouse' that I assume uses the building that was previously the clubhouse but I guess is privately owned and isn't specifically linked with the golf club.

Re: the 2nd. I hit a pure 5 iron into the wind, uphill on the green. It ended up 12 foot from the hole and I consider it one of my best ever iron shots. Missed the putt, but maybe you are right and it is actually a fairly big target as long as you get it over the lip / parapet.
 
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I'm no course expert but i don't think blind holes were more of a thing back then than it is now. When they built some of these courses, as you say they had to move earth and shape by hand. plus you have to also consider golf was played with wooden clubs with hand made ball that didn't really fly very high in the air, blind shots would have been a bit of a gimmick still.

Of the links courses around here, only Tain (Old Tom Morris) has a blind shot, the 2nd to the 11th Alps,other than the two tee shots at Royal Dornoch, 8th and 17th, but i wouldn't say they where blind as such as you can still see the green
I think it is more to do with what land is there originally. Sure, blind holes would have been avoided if there was a practical routing that allowed, but this simply wasn't possible depending on the lay of the land.

Certainly I'd say a feature of Machrishanish is that there are a lot of blind shots, probably more than half the holes have a blind tee shot or a blind approach.
 

Dan2501

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Nice review. Machrihanish has been on my course bucket-list since listening to the NLU Pod with David Mclay-Kidd, it looks absolutely stunning.
 

patricks148

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I think it is more to do with what land is there originally. Sure, blind holes would have been avoided if there was a practical routing that allowed, but this simply wasn't possible depending on the lay of the land.

Certainly I'd say a feature of Machrishanish is that there are a lot of blind shots, probably more than half the holes have a blind tee shot or a blind approach.
I have played it and TBH i didn't enjoy the blind shots. not played there for a while, last time the fairways were covered in daises and you could lose a ball in the middle of the fairway.

will go back and play one day, but its not up there with my fave courses, along with the fact its almost a 7 hour drive from here
 
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Nice review. Machrihanish has been on my course bucket-list since listening to the NLU Pod with David Mclay-Kidd, it looks absolutely stunning.
Just be aware McLay-Kidd was responsible for Machrihanish Dunes course which is separate to the old Machrihanish Championship course.
 

stevek1969

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on which hole??

if you mean the 1st you could just take the Kemlo line that was about 50:ROFLMAO:
Thats was majestic strike which didn't draw but stayed straight . Played both courses a good few times and like both , both are different from each other Old Mach can be a bit frustrating but a fantastic test of golf , well worth a visit we normally drive the near 4hr from Dundee and back the same day but talk of going next year and staying over which makes it more enjoyable .
 
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11 - 12 of us go every year - play best 3 stableford out of 4 rounds (and various other sundry comps)
Next trip is in mid-June - This time we play twice at Machrihanish and twice at Mach Dunes
Always enjoyable
 

azazel

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Should preface this by saying I'm a member at Machrihanish...

We were planning a trip there , but needing a 200 metre carry from the tee it's a big no from me :cry:.
The carry depends entirely on which tees you play from and which line you take. We've got plenty members who don't carry it as far as they used to but can still manage to get round off the yellows without too much trouble. It's really only the white tees that pose any problem.
 
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