When renovation work at the ruggedly natural Machrie links went beyond the original remit, the result was a truly breath-taking transformation

The Machrie Links Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 – 52

Previous Rankings
2019/20 – 90
2011/12 – 95
2009/10 – 89

Summer Green Fees

Round: £130wd, £160we

Visitor Times: No restrictions on tee times

Medal Tee: Par 72 – 6,309 Yards.

Website: www.campbellgrayhotels.com/machrie-islay-scotland/golf/

The Machrie Links Course Review

Golf on whisky-rich Islay in the Inner Hebrides dates back to Willie Campbell’s original Machrie Links in 1891. This had long been a highly regarded golfing outpost in UK&I golfing circles.

But it is the recent developments here that have been attracting ever-more worldwide attention.

Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland

Tour pro, DJ Russell, was initially tasked with making a few tweaks, but the term “a few tweaks” soon took on a whole new meaning. The project gradually expanded into a wholesale upgrading of this famous links on the island’s west coast along with a major redevelopment of the hotel into a first-rate 47-room facility.

The Machrie Golf Links

Make the most of your visit to Islay with a stay at The Machrie’s hotel (Photo: © Phil Inglis)

Yes, just three greens remain from The Machrie’s previous incarnation, which may grate with some purists. But DJ’s new masterpiece plays over a rumpled, landscape of unending drama with several front-nine tees set right beside the beach.

It is quite simply a magnificent place to play golf, and thought-provoking too, with several strategic choices to be made as you make your way round.

The Machrie Golf Links

Several holes play close to the beach (Photo: © Phil Inglis)

A dream setting

Magical green settings abound, with the 2nd, wedged between river and beach, standing out along with the gorgeous, short par-3 9th with its ocean backdrop.

And those purists will be relieved to learn that just enough blind or semi-blind shots remain – one of the original course’s trademarks – most notably on the approach to the clever risk-reward 7th along the shore.

The Machrie Golf Links

Only three greens remain from the original links (Photo: © Phil Inglis)

Add in a fine short-game area, the superb six-hole Wee course and three putting greens, including the 4,500m2 rollercoaster ‘Hebrides’ creation (think Himalayas at St Andrews) and you now have one excellent golf facility worth the trek to Islay alone even without the allure of the many distilleries.

If you’ve not been to The Machrie for some time, it’s time to take another look. If you’ve never been, just go.

Assessor Feedback

The sound of the sea waves is an almost constant companion, with the really good views starting from the 3rd tee. The one from the 9th, where you tee off directly towards the sea, takes some beating.

Wild and desolate, The Machrie is a wonderful modern interpretation of the classic links game.

GM Verdict

When renovation work at this ruggedly natural Islay links went beyond the original remit, the result was a truly breath-taking transformation.