ARRAN GOLF CHALLENGE
2017 see's the inaugural launch of the Arran Golf Challenge, with entrants playing all of the islands 93 holes. In itself a challenge enough however the challenge is to tackle all seven golf courses in one day as opposed to a leisurely week or month. Currently there are a group of hearty enthusiasts who make the pilgrimage most years and recruit the assistance and permission of clubs to have early starts and late finishes to complete the task to their own satisfying and at times twisted means.
There have been murmurings of the challenge happening for the past few years now but finally 2017 will see it happen in an official capacity with all clubs, Arran Golf Pass and Visit Arran pledging their support. Places are reported to be limited for this year and interested parties should get in touch using the contact link at the bottom of this page. The event will take place in August to make the most of the light nights, more details to be announced.
GOLF IN THE WILD
Now here’s a book that will take you places - from Allendate, Northumberland, to Durness, the stopping point for that ultimate turning point, Cape Wrath. It’s a journey in the company of the author, Robin J Down, who reveals and visualises it as one through time and space. The 727 miles are documented in an informative way and the links are golf-courses, of the nine-hole variety, in beautiful settings, with quiet custom and that appealing feature, the honesty-box. The encounters that he makes en route naturally refer to the courses, but take in so much more - his life and times.
He indicates that his wife likes to live in the vicinity of a Marks & Spencer store while he has a need for a nearby golf course. It’s part of the variety of marriage and, within it, he must have brought home as many interesting tales as she came back with attractive garments. The landscapes, the roads, railways, memories of motor-racing, the enthusiasms of others and his recollections of family history - all feature in a readable, stimulating way. Above all, here is a book (at £8.99) to be packed in the car or rucksack as a guide to parts of the Highlands & Islands which comparatively few visit. The author once observed two policemen gently following that remarkable hermit, the late James McRory-Smith, across trackless terrain towards his bothy at Strathcailleach, above Sandwood Bay. It is a reminder that ‘no man is an island’ however solitary his existence.
Scottish Islands Explorer is a bi-monthly magazine with a website at scottishislandsexplorer.com and a daily blog at john-humphries.blogspot.com It likes to follow in the footsteps of such as Robin Down, who both explores and explains. In this case it is through the publisher northumbrian : light at northumbrian-light.co.uk
The price of the Arran Golf Pass has been increased from £99 to £110 on January 1st 2017 (including postage).
The rise in price has nothing to do with brexit as some have suggested but has been taken as a response to rising green fees over the past decade. The price of the pass was generally held at £99 since its inception at the start of the century and only once in this time faced a price alteration in 2012 where it was raised to £125 but then reverted to £99 again in 2013. Peak Greens fees for each club are listed as;
Brodick £30, Corrie £15, Lamlash £25 , Lochranza £12, Machrie £20, Shiskine £30 and Whiting Bay £25
The junior pass was introduced around the same time as the price in 2012 but again was scrapped in 2013 due to a lack of sales as was the 9 hole pass and 18 hole pass both of which had an option to play the 12 hole course at Shiskine.
The Arran driving range closed last year and was the only driving range on any of Scotlands Golf Islands. The range was part of a business that offered a wide range of outdoor pursuits which proved more popular and possibly a victim of the numerous clubs on offer to golfers within close proximity of the range. It may still reopen as the infrastructure remains in place however there are no plans as yet for that to happen.
JURA TEED UP TO BECOME A GOLFER'S WONDERLAND
Did you hear the one about the Australian gentleman who spent £50 million building a luxury golf resort on Jura in the Inner Hebrides? Well, it’s no joke.
Encompassing the southern tip of a mountainous island famous for its herds of deer and outstanding malt whisky, the championship-class course officially opens for play later in the year. And judging by the photos we’ve seen, it looks like being one of the most awe-inspiring golf settings in the world.
We’re told that from 1st to 18th hole, the views are nothing short of spectacular. And word is the holes have been designed to be ‘extremely challenging’ and ‘testing’ to golfers of the highest standard. Which we reckon is another way of saying if you’re not on top of your game, it could be a real ball-eater.
But don’t get too excited yet. Rumour has it that the course is for the sole use of the new Antipodean Laird of Ardfin and his guests. One thing’s for sure though: should you be fortunate enough to receive an invitation to play on it, you’re in for a truly bonzer experience.
A trip to Arran is the perfect opportunity to expand your golfing horizons by getting round all these stunning courses. The island is relatively small so they’re all within close proximity to each other. This offer has been conveniently packaged into an ‘Arran Golf Pass’ which entitles the bearer to a round of golf on each of these seven courses plus access to the driving range for the remarkable price of £110 – a much cheaper alternative to paying all seven clubs and the driving range access individually. The pass grants one round of golf on each course.
However, if any players wish to play another round on a particular course then they should contact the starters box and this can be arranged with the additional green fee being charged. If this offer appeals to you then you can purchase a pass here on the website very easily by completing your details and making the payment via PayPal. We will then send your pass out using first class Royal Mail recorded delivery. You can track the delivery process with the tracking number that will be given with your transaction.
EAT > PLAY > DRINK > REPEAT
There’s so much to love about playing golf on the Scottish Islands: fabulous courses, breathtakingly beautiful scenery, amazing wildlife and friendly people.
And yes, a dram or two of locally distilled single malt whisky goes down a treat in the 19th hole, too. But before you tee off of a morning, your game plan should include a full Scottish breakfast in all its Celtic glory.
The whole stooshie starts with a steaming bowl of porridge made with oatmeal. Then comes a big plateful of bacon, tomato, sausage, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, eggs, oat-studded black pudding, and hot, buttery, tattie scones. Followed by a few rounds of toast with a generous dollop of butter and a pot of thick-cut orange marmalade or heather honey. All washed down with a pot of strong tea or coffee.
Why such a lavish culinary feast so soon after falling out of bed, you may ask? Well, think of it as fuel for the fairway. You’ll be set up for the rest of the day, or at least until dinner!
WHAT... NO CLUB HOUSE?!
If you ever get the chance to play at Barra Golf Club, seize it with both hands. This nine-hole gem is utterly, utterly unique. It’s the most westerly course in the British Isles and the surrounding scenery is nothing short of jaw dropping.
The course itself is a truly memorable experience, providing an array of tricky hazards that are as charming as they are challenging. It has the biggest bunker in the world (a beach), ludicrously rough roughs, and electric fences around the greens to keep the cows and sheep out. The fairways are little more than rocky hillsides. Oh, and then there’s the climate. The weather in Barra can change in an instant and fearsome Atlantic storm fronts regularly pummel the links.
Still, when the rain comes lashing down, you can always nip into the clubhouse for a steaming hot mug of tea or coffee. Or rather you can’t, because Barra Golf Club doesn’t have a clubhouse. And the very real fear is that if one isn’t built soon, the course - which is maintained by a small, hardworking core of volunteers - may eventually have to close. Which would be a crying shame.
It’s reckoned that £30,000 should be enough to build a small clubhouse with a lounge, kitchen and much-needed WC facilities and an appeal has been set-up to help raise funds. If you’d like to donate to the cause, visit the Isle of Barra Crowdfunder page at Crowdfunder.co.uk.
Banner Lodge is the former home to the local newspaper, The Arran Banner. Arran’s weekly paper was established in 1974 and was under the ownership and editorship of John Millar, who worked and printed the newspaper from the lodge.
The Brodick Bunkhouse offers basic and budget priced accommodation right in the heart of Brodick village on the Isle of Arran. We are friendly and flexible, the information found on our website provides a framework and reference point for your visit to the Brodick Bunkhouse.
In late October into November the Smart car boarded the CalMac ferry from Uig to Tarbert laden with one set of clubs, one production kit bag and one bemused Italian girlfriend who thankfully has mastered the art of packing light!
With the weather looking more promising it was time to bid fair well to Monte Carlo and return home to sunny Scotland with the clubs and camera packed up. At the time of typing this a good friend offered up his Ferrari 430 Scuderia.
SCOTLAND'S GOLF ISLANDS
If you love golf, you’re going to love Scotland’s twenty-six Golf Islands. Ranging from the far north down the western coastline and with a total of thirty-eight courses between them there’s nowhere else in the world that you can enjoy the variety our islands can offer.
We have eighteen 9-hole courses; eighteen 18-hole courses; one 12-hole and one 13-hole course. They range from the perfectly manicured to the slightly more rough and ready but all of them share the same rugged surroundings, charming villages and spectacular sea views.
The Isle of Barra’s 9-hole course is the most westerly course in Scotland, while the most northerly is the 18 holer on the picturesque Isle of Whalsay, part of the Shetland Isles archipelago. If you’ve the time to travel further south it’s well worth making provision to visit the courses around Orkney and it’s surrounding islands – all within easy reach of the mainland or Shetland.For the seemingly impossible price of only £21 you can fly with Logan Air from Westray to Papa Westray and enjoy the world’s shortest shortest flight, lasting only 47 seconds! Be sure to claim your flight certificate when you land back in Kirkwall Airport from the Logan Air flight desk.
Most islands have just one course although Skye, Shetland, Orkney and Mull each have two and the Isle of Rothesay has three. Of all islands, the isle of Arran has the most courses with three 18-hole, three 9-hole and one 12-hole course, all of which are over 100 years old. Author Jim Henderson has written extensively about the history of Golf on Arran and we would like to extend our thanks to Jim and the Arran Voice who have generously allowed us to publish his work on our site.
Typically you can expect to pay between £10 and £15 a round, but all clubs have offer’s to suit every player’s pocket. Iona has without question the lowest price per round of golf on offer, not just on the islands but possibly mainland UK as it’s free of charge to all! This seemingly impossible situation has arisen due to the islanders maintaining the 18 hole links course with views onto the North Atlantic for their own pleasure and that of visitors.
As all the courses on our site promote pay and play, it would be advisable to reserve a tee time, especially in the busier summer months, either by phoning the clubs directly or email them.
The second largest island of the Inner Hebrides is the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. With beautiful beaches and attractions, an interesting historical background and not to mention the famous golf courses, it is a pleasant place to spend some leisurely time and the Isle of Mull can most definitely fulfil many fantasies of Scotland’s island life. Its neighbouring island, Iona, lies west of the Isle of Mull and the two are connected by a short five minute ferry journey that runs frequently for foot passengers. The peacefulness and tranquillity of Iona is often the highlight of a trip to Mull.
WEST Brewery is a name which has become synonymous with high-‐ quality, locally brewed beer with a Glaswegian Heart and a German Head. Made in Glasgow’s East End, it is the only brewery in the UK to produce all of its beers in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot, German Purity Law of 1516.
Escape to the beautiful Isle of Skye and enjoy an indulgent luxury hotel break in the Highlands of Scotland at Duisdale House Hotel. Perfectly situated in the area known as Sleat on the southernmost tip of Skye, this Hebridean hotel, built in 1865 as a Hunting Lodge, has been completely transformed...
When visiting any of Scotland's golf islands a car would almost certainly be something that you would want to consider as your mode of transport to reach the courses, albeit cars aren't permitted on the isle of Iona unless permission has been granted by the trust. Public transport is widely available and for the most part reliable but
Drinking and then driving is never a good idea, period; there is no way to do it with complete safety. But when you factor in the unfamiliarity of driving in a foreign country, it becomes especially bad. Being inexperienced with the roads, speed limits, and not to mention the novelty of driving on the opposite side of the road requires ...
Tiffany Chaisson blogger of Fairway Foodie finally makes her pilgramiage to Shiskine. After reading Preferred Lies by Andrew Greig I decided I needed to golf at Shiskine on the Isle of Arran as the way he described it, I just had to experience it for myself. I had been put in touch with Gordon Moir (Director of Greenkeeping at St Andrews) and he recommended I play at Lamlash if I was visiting the Isle of Arran. More...
Skye Golf Club was established in 1964 when the Portree Golf Club lost access to their course (situated beside the Struan road near Pairc nan Laoich) due to the land being bought by a new owner who wanted the land for grazing his sheep. The late Mr. Ian Campbell, Sconser, offered to lease the ground on which...
In June 1891 "Old" Tom Morris accompanied by his companion Horace Hutchinson travelled to South Uist at the request of the landowners to inspect the machair lands with a view to laying out a new course. "Old" Tom eventually laid out eighteen holes on the rolling dunes of Askernish Farm, although he declared that the choice of links land available was "staggering." Horace mentioned the trip in a magazine called "Golf", the forerunner of "Golf Illustrated", for which he was to contribute regularily over the next thirty years.
The first Stromness golf course was on the natural links at Warbeth. It was a short 9-hole course, so short that only at one hole was a wood necessary for a second shot. The style employed was unlike today's. The ball was addressed with half a dozen swings to and from the ball, the final swing being shoulder high without a follow through. Clubs consisted of a driver, a baffy baffy (no. 4 wood), a cleek (no.2 iron), a jigger (no. 3 iron), a mashie (no. 5 iron) and a putter. Up to 1900 balls were gutties (hard rubber without dimples).Thereafter, rubber-cored balls came in.