Gairloch Golf Club
The founding members totaled 11 and the committee numbered 7!
It wasn't until 1901 that course conditioning was taken seriously. The club then invested in a scythe, spade, and brush.
Golf Course Review
Gairloch Golf Club is a wee nine-hole links with two sets of tees dating from 1898! Located beside Gairloch Beach or Gairloch Mhor, it is the centre of the middle of nowhere. The Minch, Isles of Skye, Harris, and Lewis lie to the West. The mountains of Torridon lie to the South and the wilderness of Letterewe lies to the East. Just north is the small but important Highland hub of Ullapool.
Routing & Crossing Holes
Sat on just over 20 acres, you'll have to have some quirk to get in 9 holes. St Andrews Old gets the job done using double greens and shared fairways to reach 18 with limited space.
Gairloch uses crossing holes much in the same way Royal Worlington makes use of them to achieve a decent set of 9. The second hole crosses the first. From the fourth green, you cross the eighth fairway to play the fifth. The ninth then crosses the eighth. Is Gairloch Scotland's answer to Mildenhall or vice versa?
Second Set of Tees
A common theme at smaller clubs is to build a second set of tees in order to effectively create another nine. The problem is it very rarely works as well as one would hope, can add confusion for visiting players, and increases maintenance costs - all with marginal gains
At Gairloch Golf Club, the second set of tees, or the back nine, adds to the length by 235 yards. For the most part, the second set of tees offers different looks on a handful of holes.
- When the 2nd hole becomes the 11th, the angle changes sightly and adds 31 yards.
- When the 3rd hole becomes the 12th, it adds 20 yards.
- When the 5th hole becomes the 14th, it adds 117 yards.
- When the 7th hole becomes the 16th, it adds 58 yards.
- When the 8th hole becomes the 17th, the angle changes, and the length is effectively the same.
- When the 9th hole becomes the 18th, the angle changes and it loses 20 yards.
Standout Holes at Gairloch Golf Club
It is a rare thing to admit but there aren't any weak holes at Gairloch. Some may not like the blind 4th but the fact you can see what's coming whilst playing the 2nd and 3rd makes it much more 'fair' if that's important to you...
I really liked the short 7th at just 87 yards - in fact, I don't think I've played a better short hole. The formula is pretty simple: partial blindness plus an incredible backdrop. I'd also hazard a guess there are as many birdies as bogies too.
The second standout was one of the best par 5's I played on any of the courses on my trip... including Royal Troon, The Machrie, Machrihanish, Machrihanish Dunes, Askernish, and Prestwick.
On this occasion, both tees offer different tests and different holes. The hole can play as tough as nails par 4 or ultra strategic par 5.
If you have the length, there are multiple lines available that offer a chance of going for the green in two. If you lay up, the 2nd shot is as exciting as the tee shot and approach. On those merits alone, it is a cracker.
Add in partial blindness, forced carries, intimidation, prevailing winds, and risk and reward on all shots for all possible lines and you have a world-beater.
Every once in a while you find a wee 9-hole golf course that offers great golf with the right amount of quirk and charm. I'd count Traigh, Harris, Durness, and Mildenhall as other golf courses on that list. Gairloch is one of the better 9 hole courses I've ever played and probably is near the top of the shortlist mentioned previously...
Gairloch Golf Club - Videos
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...