The Machrie Golf Links
In 1901, James Braid, J.H. Taylor, and Harry Vardon played for the largest prize of its kind at that time in the British Isles... the grand sum of £100.
Like proper links golf, much depends on the direction of the wind at The Machrie Golf Links. The prevailing wind from the west is known as the 'good wind' as it makes the long holes shorter... I played the course two days in a 'bad wind' from the tips and the course was still fair, gettable, and fun.
Golf Course Review
The Machrie Golf Links is set in the majestic dunes of Islay on seven miles of the pristine beach of the Inner Hebrides. The Islay Golf Club is a private members club that plays at Machrie Links.
The Machrie Golf Links History
The Machrie Golf Links were laid out in 1891 by Willie Campbell on linksland between the Machrie Burn and Kintera Burn. It would remain virtually unchanged until Donald Steel would make it ‘more complete, more modern and more challenging.’ Essentially the blindness of the holes he altered was removed. Thirteen of the original Willie Campbell holes remained at that point.
In 2011, the course would run into financial difficulties and new owners brought significant investment and change to the site. In 2014, DJ Russell, of Kedleston Park and Archerfield fame, was brought in to completely overhaul the design. A Wee Course, driving range, short game practice area, and putting green were also added and opened for play in 2017. It is known by some as The New Machrie.
The Architect – Campbell, Steel, or Russell?
The question, therefore, left remaining is: How much of Campbell and Steel’s work is left?
- Willie Campbell’s green can be seen on the 1st & 4th with the 7th hole as a whole attributed to him as well.
- Donald Steel’s lone contribution is the 12th hole – now with a wider fairway and added green contouring.
- The rest are new designs by DJ Russell.
The Evolution of The Machrie
Like the days of old, the management thought it best to leave the final bunkering plan to see where they should be placed. In 2018, five bunkers were added. In 2019, 11 bunkers were added again. A major step was taken in 2020 with 37 new bunkers and 12 new tees. Again, in 2021, six bunkers were added. It must be said that they are of the synthetically revetted sort. Attempts are being made to grow vegetation on the faces to give the impression of natural revetments but in a low maintenance option. Time will tell if the plan will come to fruition but it passes the initial eye test.
The Machrie Golf Links – On The Rise
The owners, director of golf, course manager and golf course architect are all determined to move The Machrie Golf Links forward. It appears the course will continue to evolve and they aren’t shy about making changes big and small. This in and of itself is another reason why you’ll be hearing of The Machrie Golf Links more and more as it continues to rise in the rankings.
The Machrie Golf Links - Videos
watch golfing world's overview of the machrie golf links
Featured Architect: MacKenzie, Alister
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...