The Machrie has seen major renovation work in the past few years and yet it remains a tremendously natural golf course.

The Machrie Links Course Review

Green Fee Range: £75-£120

Medal Tee: Par 71, 6,309 Yards.

Visitor Times: No restrictions on tee times.


The Machrie Links Course Review

Set on the ruggedly beautiful Isle of Islay, The Machrie blends old and new links with a layout dating from 1891 that has been more recently updated by DJ Russell.

Related: Top 100 Courses UK and Ireland

The green on the 395 yards par 4, 7th hole ‘Scot’s Maiden’ at The Machrie (Getty Images)

A tremendously natural course golf has been played here on the inner Hebridean island of Islay since 1891 when Willie Campbell laid out a course above Laggan Bay on land he described as singularly well-suited for golf. Not long, it relies heavily on alternative means of defence, including some thought-provoking blind shots.

Course changes since previous ranking

The Machrie Links has undergone a major renovation under the guidance of DJ Russell. There are three greens from the old layout that have been untouched, except for slightly different mowing lines, these are 1st,4th and 7th. Here is a hole by hole guide to the alterations.

  1. The 1st hole except for the green is all new. The tees are on the opposite side of the hotel to the old layout and the green is now approached from the east rather than the north.
  2. The 2nd hole has been lengthened with the green moving back around 50 yards, the severity of the dogleg over/around the Kintra Burn has been reduced by the new tees. The new green has opened up spectacular vistas of the beach.
  3. A completely new hole, this par 3 replaces the short par 4 from the original layout.
  4. New tees have been added with a slight change of angle on the tee shot, the green has been enlarged by simply mowing to its now boomerang shape, the surrounds is also now closely mown turf to encourage a multitude of shots.
  5. Similar to the 2nd this green has been moved back around 30 yards, the angle of the tee shot has been changed from the original layout and the fairway widened at the landing area.
  6. The 6th tees and fairway have been moved to nearer the shore, giving the option of a visual into the green. Centre-line fairway bunkers have been added. The green is in the same location but has been raised and re contoured as there was flooding issues during the winter months.
  7. The tees have been moved onto the shoreline, with the hole being reduced in distance to make it a risk and reward drivable par 4. A bunker has been added to the rear of the green.
  8. A completely new hole played through a valley with views of the beach.
  9. A completely new par 3, played downhill towards the sea to a green set amongst the dunes
  10. A completely new hole played from the edge of The Machrie Burn to a green set amongst the heather banks
  11. Another completely new hole, this drivable par 4 is played through the heather valley to a long narrow green, a risk reward par 4
  12. This short par 5 has had the severity of the dogleg reduced and the fairway widened. The green is in the original site but has been re contoured with the greenside bunkers removed.
  13. Very similar to the old hole, the new green has reduced the severity of the dogleg, the position of the tees have changed slightly and the length of the hole has increased by about 40 yards
  14. A completely new par 3, played through the heather valley
  15. A completely new hole, with the exception that the new green is on the same site as the original.
  16. With the exception of part of the fairway another new hole.
  17. The green has been raised and re contoured but is still on the same site as the original. The tees and the fairway are new and the green is approached from a different angle.
  18. A new par 5 to finish, the green framed by The Machrie Hotel.

Golf Monthly Verdict

Rugged west coast splendour meets subtle architectural refinement