When you're on a vacation, curiosity begins to call your name. Long car rides call for staring out of the window and taking in the foreign views around you, wondering if you'll ever come back to see them again.
Courses in Scotland are located in towns that live, breathe, eat and sleep golf, but, some of these are located well off the beaten path. These remote golf towns can be hours away from major cities like Glasgow and Dundee, and even require getting there via sea or air. So why make the hike to a remote golf course when you can explore local, historic courses such as St. Andrews? These remote golf courses, such as the Machrie Links and Dunaverty, are located in the middle of nowhere. It's a chance to get away and escape reality for just a little while, and to take in some of the most unique golf Scotland has to offer.
Let's take a look at what some of these courses have to offer, and how you can plan about making your way to the course hassle free.
Islay's Machrie Hotel and Golf Links
Nestled in the dunes of Islay, The Machrie Hotel and Golf Links is the perfect place to stay and play. The hotel was remodeled and opened back up in summer 2018 after adding 47 different rooms, suites and lounges. They also added their own restaurant and bar, "18."
It overlooks the 18th green, and features a full bar with plenty of seating. in addition, there's an outdoor terrace that allows for a complete 360 degree view of the course. Grab a drink, enjoy the sunset, and let the views of the course do the rest of the work.
The Machrie Links were designed in 1891 by Willie Campbell. With the future in mind, he wanted to make the course stand out for numerous reasons. He purposely made the course long, 6,782 yards to be exact, and he designed the Machrie to cross over the dunes, which resulted in several of the blind spots the course is known for.
The Machrie is located on Islay island, and you can get there via plane or ferry. The ferry leaves from Kennacraig, roughly a two-and-a-half hour drive from Glasgow. You will arrive at either Port Ellen or Port Askaig, with both trips lasting around two hours.
The Mull of Kintyre
Whereas many of the islands only have one or two courses, the Mull of Kintyre, a remote peninsula in the southwest, there are three worthy courses to visit. The area has also enjoyed some reinvestment thanks to David Southworth, who purchased the Ugadale Hotel, now a very comfortable lodging option steps from the first tee of the town's famous links, Machrihanish. The links, famous for its opening hole, "Battery," is one of Old Tom Morris' best works.
Machrihanish has a 21st century neighbor, Machrihanish Dunes. But unlike other modern and showier Scotland links like Castle Stuart or Kingsbarns, the Dunes is a a throwback. David McLkay Kidd was tasked with designing the course, located in environmentally protected dunesland without the use of heavy machinery. The result is one of the most natural courses build in the modern era anywhere in the world. The fairways are natural, and only the tee boxes and greens were shaped. There are several blind shots to navigate as well.
About a 20-minute drive from the two Machrihanish links is an even more remote and sparsely trafficked club, Dunaverty, which is so lightly-trafficked an honor box is still employed at times when the clubhouse isn't staffed. As a par 66, this 18-hole course spans to 4,799 yards, but don't let that fool you. The par-3s vary in distance ranging from 123 to 245 yards.
The course was founded in 1889 and lays on the land of Dunaverty Rock. While it might be a short course, it's worth the visit.
To get to the Mull of Kintyre, you can catch the ferry from Portavadie on the Cowal and Dunoon peninsula. You can also catch the ferry from Lochranza on Arran. If you're staying in Ardrossan, you can take a ferry to Campbeltown. The Scottish Citylink runs from Glasgow, Loch Lomond, Inveraray, Lochgilphead, and Tarbert to Campbelltown. Some tour operators can also arrange a more convenient helicopter or small plane service.
Arran's Shiskine Golf Club
This course is packed with history. Dating back to 1896, Shiskine was originally a nine-hole course. Decades later, the course added another nine holes for a total of 18. Unfortunately, six holes were destroyed after the war, and because of this, Shiskine has become a well-known 12-hole course. There are a total of seven par-3s, ranging from 120 to 196 yards. Located on the west coast of Arran, Shiskine shows its age through the vast number of blind shots and difficult greens. You will be able to play the course in just over two hours, and with only 12 holes, you can play the whole course and have lunch in a reasonable time.
The Isle of Arran is is a 55-minute ferry ride from Ayshire. You can also take the ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig, on the Kintyre Peninsula.
Durness Golf Club
As the northern-most golf course in the UK mainland, expect a surplus of thick air as you'll play alongside the Balnakeil Bay. Durness Golf Club has nine greens, but has a second set of different tees. Playing from the other set feels like a brand new nine holes, and the courses plays like a traditional 18 holes. Green fees are £20.
They have a regular tournament schedule for its members. As you make your way up the hill to the clubhouse, you'll discover why Durness is one of the most beloved nine-hole gems Scotland has to offer.
Durness is 57 miles northwest of Lairg on the A838. From the Village Square, follow the signs for the golf course for one mile.
The Isle of Harris
The picturesque Isle of Harris northwest of the UK mainland is home to a 9-hole Harris Golf Course that has been played by some of golf's best like Nick Faldo and Ronan Rafferty. At under 2,500 yards, yards, the par-3's range from 145 to 219 yards, and the course's final hole is a tester at a 495-yard par 5.
To get here, you can fly in and out of Stornoway. There's car ferries that take you to the Western Isles from Wester Ross and from the Isle of Skye. It will take you around an hour and fifteen minutes to get from Stornoway to the golf course.
South Uist's Askernish
Old Tom Morris came to South Uist to construct Askernish Golf Club for the wealthy land owner so she could impress her guests. The course did well until around 1920, when the demand for golf began to decline.
The course had nine holes with 18 different tees, and over 80 years later, the course was restored and re-opened in 2008. Nine new holes were created that are in play today.
Askernish is located on the South Uist isle among the Outer Hebries. You can get there by ferry or airplane. For the ferry, you can take Oban to Lochboisdale, Mallaig to Lochboisdale and Uig to Lochmaddy. Flights go from Inverness to Benbecula and Glasgow to Benbecula.
As Britain's northernmost golf club, Whalsay Golf Club opened its doors in 1976. While there was a lot to celebrate when it came to opening a new golf course, there wasn't any equipment to maintain the course. The club started to receive grants that helped pay for grass-cutting equipment, and up until 1989, the grounds crew that worked on the course was on a volunteer basis. The clubhouse wasn't built until 1996, when the club purchased land to build on. Today, most of the work done to the course is at the hands of volunteers, and only one greens keeper is hired during the summer months.
Whalsay is reachable from the Shetland mainland by ferry, and leaves from Laxo, which takes roughly 30 minutes. It is suggested that you bring your own car, because the golf course is roughly five miles from the Whalsay Ferry terminal at Symbister.
Isle of Barra
As the most western golf course in the United Kingdom, the Isle of Barra lies parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. As one of the youngest golf courses on this list, Barra Golf Club was established in 1992. It's also the shortest nine-hole course on this list coming in at 2,396 yards.
There's no clubhouse for the course, so the only way you can pay green fees is at one of the local hotels, and the rate for the course is £10 pounds.
The Isla of Barra is accessible by car, ferry, or air. You can travel with your car via Oban or via Eriskay. You can also fly from Glasgow to Benbecula.