View PDF - Southworth Development


View PDF - Southworth Development
pp116-117 West Coast Scot
Page 116
G reat Escapes | UK Courses
of Kintyre
Steve Killick travelled to
Scotland’s west coast to
experience some of the
newest and oldest
seaside golf on offer
Steve Killick was a guest of Visit
Scotland and Southworth
Developments flying from Gatwick
Airport on Easyjet to Glasgow and
Flybe from Glasgow to
Campbeltown. For details on flights
go to and
For more information on
Machrihanish Dunes packages go and
availability at Machrihanish and
Dunaverty golf clubs see and
HE favour is finally being returned. The
exodus of the cream of Scottish golfers
for the United States that started after
the Great War and saw the departure of
men such as Ben Sayers of North Berwick, Alister
MacKenzie from Leeds, Donald Ross from Dornoch,
and Tommy Armour from Edinburgh to name but a
very few is slowly being reversed.
Now Americans are coming to Scotland looking to
create courses that will bring joy and employment
to many. Not all, and some will give much thanks
for that, are as grandiosely ambitious as Donald
Trump's plan for north Aberdeenshire.
In westerly, wind-blown Machrihanish out on the
Atlantic coast of the Kintyre Peninsula it is hard to
believe that a course barely six months old has not
been running through the grassy sand dunes for
more than a century.
This is Machrihanish Dunes, owned by US-based
development company Southworth and the
creation of architect David McLay Kidd, designer of
the renowned Bandon Dunes complex in Oregon.
It is set in 259 acres amid a Site of Special
Scientific Interest and shows how a golf course can
be created naturally from the contours of the land
without recourse to massive earth moving
equipment and artifice.
Only seven acres were disturbed during the
creation of Machrihanish Dunes. The rest is as
McLay Kidd saw it – a golf course waiting to
The finished article is a breathtaking sight. Nearby,
Southworth has lovingly restored the Old
Clubhouse pub, built a small village around the
historic Ugadale Hotel and plans to breath life back
into the closed and presently unlovely Royal Hotel
in neighbouring Campbeltown as part of its £30m
regeneration programme.
At the moment the Dunes clubhouse is what will
become the halfway house with only the most
modest of facilities but upon arrival there is a warm
welcome from all the staff, a sense that this is
something special. And it does not disappoint.
Those who have complained about the course
say that there are too many blind shots, which is
why it makes sense to hire a caddy or at least a ball
spotter to point you on your way over the
precipitous dunes.
At 7,175 yards off the back tees this is no arid
buggy ride but a course to be walked, savoured and
enjoyed. Some of the greens alongside the
shoreline need more time to get bedded in for sure,
but the Dunes only opened in May and is only
going to get even better.
There are triple-tiered greens, long carries and
wild, wild bunkers and all will certainly take many a
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victim along the way but those victims will surely
come off the course with a smile on their face and
an enthusiasm to go back and have another try.
Mastery of Machrihanish Dunes, however
momentary, is a triumph indeed.
And having enjoyed one of the very, very best of
recently built courses – incidentally the first links to
be built on the west coast of Scotland for a century
– it is time to take a look at its nearest neighbour
and one of the finest courses in the country.
Machrihanish Golf Club was founded in 1876 and
rightfully claims to be a place of golfing pilgrimage.
Tom Morris came here, charging his standard rate
of £1 a day and created something stunning. Here,
dunes have been levelled but the views across to
Isla and Jura are just the same.
This is subtle golf from the moment one tees off
across the Atlantic beach at the 1st with
opportunities to score well and just as many to see
one's scorecard explode in one's hand. And as
always along this coast, it largely depends on how
the wind is blowing.
The greens at Machrihanish are superb, firm and
true although older members of the club still speak
of the gentle miseries they used to endure when
putting on sloping surfaces that were golden brown
and 'kittle', as the local expression goes.
This is classic links golf, playing out along the
shoreline often over marker poles, hoping that the
ball will not have kicked into some insidious pot
bunker but be sitting up expectantly on this
springiest of turf, waiting to be drilled greenwards.
There is a heady atmosphere about golf in
Machrihanish that should be enjoyed to the finish
like the excellent Springbank range of malt whisky
produced locally which certainly helps revive
flagging spirits if either of these two splendid
courses has gained too much of the upper hand.
Then a short car ride is needed inland through the
green rolling farmlands to Southend and Dunaverty,
a cracking little course tailor-made to re-invigorate
even the most downcast of golfers.
Barely 4,800 yards long, Dunaverty shows that
you do not need a monster to test the game.
There are seven par 3s from 123 yards to 245
yards long, only one bunker on the entire course
and some of the most stunning scenery in British
golf. You can see the north-east coast of Ireland as
well as breathtaking views across to the Mull of
Kintyre and the Isle of Arran. At £20 a round and
with the course kept in pristine condition it is folly
not to play and enjoy Dunaverty.
In fact it is folly for anyone who calls themselves
a golf lover not to make the journey to the Kintyre
Peninsula and enjoy Scottish golf, both new and
old, at its most entrancing best.
Above: The 5th at Machrianish Dunes looks
like it has been around for centuries
Below: The 9th green at Machrihanish