Barra Golf Club
Built by locals in 1992, the course is 2396 yards in length and is now ranked as the 34th best nine-hole golf course in the world!
Green fees at Barra Golf Club are only £10, with a yearly subscription of £70!
Golf Course Review
Barra Golf Club lies on the west coast of the Western Isles of Scotland in a small hamlet called Cleat. From Castlebay, you pass one of the most natural parcels of links land you could imagine… on this occasion you play across the bay looking at the impossibly brilliant dunes.
Established in 1992, the small nine-hole Barra Golf Club golf course is laid out over turbulent land that doesn’t necessarily scream links. Exposed rock out-croppings ensure an absence of fairness (which is more than fine!). There is blindness and holes 2, 3, and 4 were wet underfoot rather than the firm and fast golf you’d expect. On the 4th I was suspect of the course’s accolades, by the 9th I was a believer in Barra Golf Club.
Barra Golf Club Overview
The scorecard at The Isle of Barra Golf Club is as follows:
- Hole 1 210 Yards Par 3 – Downhill with creek beds front and left.
- Hole 2 465 Yards Par 5 – Tee shot to a blind landing area. Approach hit to an infinity green.
- Hole 3 308 Yards Par 4 – Uphill and usually into the wind. The direct line is strewn with hazards. Only the longest hitters will try to go for it in one.
- Hole 4 318 Yards Par 4 – This would qualify as hill climbing. It is very much a two-shot hole due to the nature of the incline rather than distance. The only real weak hole on the course.
- Hole 5 259 Yards Par 4 – Perhaps the best hole on the course. Like the one before, it plays substantially longer than 259 yards. The tee shot looks impossible – the landing area is the U created by two rocky crags. The approach is made to a green tucked behind a dell.
- Hole 6 260 Yards Par 4 – An elevated tee to a sunken green. Easily driven if not for a strong wind. Very possible birdie, if not an eagle, opportunity.
- Hole 7 175 Yards Par 3 – Reminiscent of the 1st, the 7th plays downhill from an elevated tee with a creek bed to the right.
- Hole 8 163 Yards Par 3 – Great little par 3 with a brilliant backdrop or adjacent bay and loch.
- Hole 9 267 Yards Par 4 – Risk and reward hole that has some great natural undulations around the green site.
The Isle of Barra Golf Club Synopsis
The course is accessed by a road that winds its way up halfway up a substantial hill. You play down and around the hill to the beach on the first two holes. You then climb for two holes gaining substantial elevation. The 5th plays up and over the hill before the final four holes make use of the ground near the 1st tee.
The walk is downhill on the 1st, 6th, and 7th. The 5th is up, then over and down. Only the 4th is proper hill climbing. The first 3 holes are quite good with the infinity green on the 2nd particularly good. The final four holes, the 5th to 9th, are all good holes.
One routing observation… After playing the 7th you walk from the green back to the tee in order to access the next tee. If the 7th played as the 9th – it would solve the problem. However, it’s not a busy course so probably isn’t an issue anyways but it would drive me mad when a simple fix is readily available.
Turf quality isn’t firm and fast… despite a sand base, the three holes on the sea-side of the course were wet underfoot. The greens are quite good and encircled by electric fences to help keep the grazing animals off. I must admit the greens were better than most small common land courses I played on the west coast of Scotland but the fairways were not as good as the others…
The Conclusion on Barra
The 2nd, 5th, and 9th at Barra Golf Club are solid with the sum of the others being greater than the whole of its parts.
The final four holes are made up of two par 4’s of almost identical length along with two par 3’s of very similar length. Despite what’s on paper, they all play differently from one another.
All in all, Barra Golf Club is quirky and has one standout hole (the 5th) and 7 solid holes. For a nine-hole golf course, that’s pretty good going…
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Featured Architect: Alister MacKenzie
As taken from his book, Golf Architecture, Alister MacKenzie felt the following were essential: The course, where possible, should be arranged in two loops of nine holes. There should be a large proportion of good two-shot holes and at least four one-shot holes. There should be little walking between...