Fall in love with golf again in remote Machrihanish in Scotland

MACHRIHANISH, Scotland -- It takes a sense of adventure to discover Machrihanish Golf Club and Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club.

It's a scenic three-hour-plus drive or a two-hour-plus ferry ride from the Ayrshire coast to reach the southern tip of the Mull of Kintyre. Such isolation gives Machrihanish and the neighboring port of Campbeltown a "lost-in-time" appeal. Paul McCartney fell so hard for this land he bought a home and wrote a hit song about it.

Southworth Development rejuvenated the destination by renovating the 22-room Ugadale Hotel as the centerpiece of its Village at Machrinhanish Dunes and the 23-room Royal Hotel in Campbeltown. The Royal Hotel's Harbourview Grille is the best restaurant around, and The Old Clubhouse Pub in the Village offers excellent comfort food in an intimate atmosphere.

The Village at Machrihanish Dunes, home to luxurious cottages built in 2009, actually sits adjacent to the Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club and the beach that straddles its famous first hole. The 6,491-yard course dates to 1876, when Old Tom Morris designed the original 12 holes.

It's a 10-minute ride to Machrihanish Dunes, a more scenic links that continues to evolve since opening in 2009. Architect David McLay Kidd fit holes naturally into a dunes-scape where no machines were allowed to go. The 259 acres are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), an environmental designation protecting five rare types of orchid. There are plans to reverse the nines next season, and a new green continues its grow-in on the current sixth hole.

Dune erosion remains a long-term concern, so play it now in before some holes are forced to move inland. The most memorable stretch of golf begins with No. 13 (No. 4 next year), a drivable par 4, followed by back-to-back par 3s along the water. It's these holes that remind golfers why they worked so hard to come.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

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The long and winding road from Loch Lomond to Machrihanish is world famous, yet sparsely trafficked. That is changing now, thanks to several popular golf courses. Golfers have sought out Machrihanish G.C., founded in 1876, for more than a century. And in 2008, a new neighbor finally came to the block, Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club. The two courses offer a contrast between old school and new world.
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Fall in love with golf again in remote Machrihanish in Scotland