Scottish Golf’s Best 1-2 Punch?

The neigh­bour­ing links of Machri­han­ish make a strong case to be the very best of Scot­land.

Golf World (UK) - - GB&I: TOP 10 BREAKS -

There’s an old ex­pres­sion that good fences make good neigh­bours. But as with most adages, the ex­cep­tions prove the rule. Scot­land is blessed with a num­ber of won­der­ful golf cour­ses that sit side-by-side and beg to be played back-to-back. Royal Aberdeen and Mur­car. Lundin Links and Leven. Archer­field and Re­nais­sance. A round on any of th­ese es­teemed cour­ses is al­ways time well spent.

The chance to play both neigh­bours on the same sum­mer day? Ir­re­sistible. But as good as each of th­ese colos­sal links com­bos are, it’s ar­guable that the twin ti­tans in re­mote Machri­han­ish do them all one bet­ter. Golfers have been mak­ing the pil­grim­age to play Machri­han­ish Golf Club since horse-and-cart days. Its de­light­ful Old Tom Mor­ris de­sign, with that fa­mous open­ing tee shot across the strand, is a World Top-100 track for good rea­son. Many good rea­sons, in fact. And the much younger but ev­ery bit as com­pelling links next door, GB&I Top-100 Machri­han­ish Dunes, makes ven­tur­ing down the long and wind­ing road to Kin­tyre dou­bly worth the jour­ney.

The cour­ses share sim­i­lar to­pog­ra­phy – and by to­pog­ra­phy we mean gi­gan­tic dunes. The front nine at Machri­han­ish GC and al­most ev­ery hole on the Mach Dunes course chal­lenge you to judge dis­tances well, as a pre­pon­der­ance of shots will be up­hill or down­hill – of­ten from side­hill lies. (Nature can be a mother!)

Mem­o­rable holes abound on both cour­ses. Machri­han­ish Old’s knee­knock­ing opener gets lots of ac­claim, but the course’s ser­pen­tine 5th hole, Punch Bowl, and its 7th, Bru­ach More, with its blind sec­ond shot over a tow­er­ing dune, show just what kind of magic can hap­pen when the course fol­lows the lay of the land.

That’s what Mach Dunes’ de­signer David McLay Kidd did at neigh­bour­ing Mach Dunes, as well – in part be­cause the course was routed through en­vi­ron­men­tally pro­tected shore­land.

Holes like the drive­able par-4 4th (‘Shep­herds Cross’), with its green set back in a se­cluded dell, and the mighty 17th (‘Rest and Be Thank­ful’), a brute of a twoshot­ter call­ing for a blind tee shot and a long iron that’s typ­i­cally dead into the

on­shore wind, might never have ex­isted were it not for the re­stric­tions placed on earth-mov­ing dur­ing con­struc­tion. You re­ally feel like you’re do­ing bat­tle with nature when you tackle th­ese two tracks. But it’s a war well worth wag­ing.

Each sum­mer, mem­bers of the two clubs de­light in stag­ing an event called ‘The Shep­herd’s Cross’, dur­ing which both cour­ses are pressed into use. Groups start on the 1st at Mach Old, play through the 9th hole, then lit­er­ally jump a rusty live­stock fence to play an as­sort­ment of nine other stun­ners on the Mach Dunes side be­fore fin­ish­ing at the Dunes’ charm­ing wee golf house. If you can fi­na­gle your way into this tour­na­ment, rest as­sured that you’ll en­joy ev­ery mo­ment.

De­bates about which of th­ese two ‘Big Macs’ earns top hon­our are likely to go on well into the night. And the good news there is that un­like in Old Tom’s day, ex­cel­lent lodg­ing and din­ing can now be read­ily found in the area – es­pe­cially at the four-star ho­tels and lux­ury cot­tages as­so­ci­ated with The Vil­lage at Machri­han­ish Dunes.

For golfers, the re­sort’s award-win­ning Ugadale Ho­tel & Cot­tages are a great choice since they’re lit­er­ally crawl­ing dis­tance from the 1st tee at Machri­han­ish GC. Also within crawl­ing dis­tance is The Old Club­house Pub, with its ex­cel­lent pub fare, and the Ugadale’s Kin­tyre Club restaurant, which of­fers some of Scot­land’s best seafood and steaks.

Golfers who like to sam­ple the lo­cal nightlife will prob­a­bly opt for The Royal Ho­tel, which is sit­u­ated on nearby Camp­bel­town Har­bour. Also af­fil­i­ated with The Vil­lage at Machri­han­ish Dunes, The Royal’s stylish rooms all offer har­bour views, while its Black Sheep Pub and Har­bourview Grille restaurant are favourites with lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike. Like the two nearby cour­ses, th­ese twin ho­tels are top-drawer all the way.

Machri­han­ish Dunes of­fers stay-and­play specials through­out the year – and guests of the re­sort’s ho­tels and cot­tages en­joy dis­counted green fees at both Machri­han­ish Dunes and Machri­han­ish Golf Club. There’s a full slate of open events, as well, in­clud­ing the Camp­bel­town Open and Ladies Camp­bel­town Open, slated for 30 June-1 July. Whether you ar­rive via car, via Lo­ganAir from Glas­gow, or via CalMac ferry from Ar­drossan, you’ll find a very warm wel­come await­ing you in Machri­han­ish. Along with two links cour­ses that share not just a name but a pedi­gree. They’re world-beat­ers both.

The Kin­tyre Club bar.

The Ugadale Ho­tel.

The Royal Ho­tel.

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