GREAT GOLF ... AND MORE BESIDES

 

Play the spectacular courses of the Scottish Islands and you’ll find plenty to distract you once you’ve eagled on the last hole to win the match.

 

Arran, Bute and Cumbrae have some of the most breathtaking views and landscapes on earth. There are stunning cycle routes to ride, ancient castles to visit and amazing wildlife to watch. And if you’ve energy to spare, you can even learn how to sail, kayak and windsurf at the Sport Scotland Watersports Centre.

 

In the Southern Hebrides dramatic sea cliffs, rugged hills and miles of deserted golden sands are just waiting to be explored. Look out too for otters, seals, deer and an abundance of birdlife. Oh, and should you be partial to a wee dram, be sure to visit one of the many age-old whisky distilleries.

 

The Inner Hebrides is steeped in history, heritage, myths and legends. You’ll encounter some of the finest beaches in Europe here, as well as swathes of unspoilt natural scenery and some truly epic views. Keep an eye out too for porpoises, dolphins, minke whales, orcas and giant basking sharks.

 

Skye, Raasay & the Small Isles offer more beautiful landscapes than you can shake a golf club at. There are craggy mountains, sweeping sea cliffs, rugged bays, silvery sea lochs and miles of secluded sands. You’ll find lots of outdoor activities to indulge in too, from kite surfing to deer watching.

 

The Outer Hebrides is tailor-made for rambling, mountain biking and fishing. But it also happens to be famous for pearly white beaches, colorful machair flowers, wonderful wildlife, and genuine Harris Tweed cloth. Other ‘musts’ include visits to its fascinating historic attractions.

 

Shetland is a stunning archipelago of over 100 islands, where life is literally sculpted by the sea. More than a thousand miles of dramatic coastline and pristine beaches are yours to discover, together with world-renowned archaeological sites, remarkable wildlife and all the outdoorsy pursuits you can handle.

 

And on Orkney, with its dazzling wide-open vistas under startling Northern light and wildlife almost close enough to touch, you’ll unearth an intricate tapestry of astounding Viking treasures, rich folklore and trendy art galleries as well as the finest trout fishing in Britain.

 

In fact, whichever of the Scottish Islands you choose to visit, you’ll discover that a thoroughly enjoyable game of golf is just the beginning.

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.

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.

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.