The hundreds of islands around our shores are home to some stunning courses as you'll discover in our round-up of the best island golf courses in GB&I
The Best Island Golf Courses in GB&I?
The British Isles archipelago is made up of over 1,000 islands of varying sizes. Although most of our golf courses are situated on the mainland, an intriguing number can be found on some of these many island outposts.
Here, we pick out some of the best island golf courses in GB&I. It’s not a comprehensive list, though. So if island golf appeals, we would encourage you to also investigate what else might be on offer beyond our mainland shores.
The Machrie on Islay
Golf on whisky-rich Islay in the Inner Hebrides dates back to Willie Campbell’s original course in 1891. More recently, tour pro, DJ Russell, has overseen a wholesale upgrading of this famous links on the island’s west coast. There is also a first-rate 47-room hotel here.
DJ’s new masterpiece plays over a rumpled landscape of unending drama with several front-nine tees set right by the shore. Magical green settings abound, with the 2nd, wedged between river and beach, standing out.
Ardfin on Jura
The Ardfin estate on Jura is owned by Australian hedge fund multi-millionaire, Greg Coffey. Talk of a golf course first came up in 2012, and three years later, Australian Bob Harrison’s creation was finished. He declared that “nothing I’ve seen anywhere in the world competes with the sheer beauty of the Jura site”.
The 11th plays to a green close to a stunning halfway hut boathouse by the water’s edge. The spectacular par-3 12th’s narrow, contoured green nestles beneath a rock face. Other standout holes include the par-3 10th across a chasm above the beach.
The only drawback is that you can only play Ardfin if you also stay on site. And this will cost you a very pretty penny indeed!
Hayling on Hayling Island
There are surprisingly few south coast links between Rye in Sussex and Devon. Hayling, on a small island just east of Portsmouth, is one notable exception. Hayling Island is linked to the mainland via a road bridge.
This splendid links starts with a 179-yard par 3 and features a particularly challenging run for home into the wind. The long and testing 444-yard 12th, where the green is cut into the right-hand dune ridge, perhaps just edges the ‘signature hole’ stakes.
Shiskine on Arran
Scotland in miniature, they say of Arran, but that doesn’t stop the island being blessed with seven golf courses, of which Shiskine, by the spectacular Drumadoon Cliffs on the west coast, is the most famous.
This 12-holer boasts the unique and famous Crow’s Nest 3rd, a short par 3 that rises steeply and dramatically to a hidden green. Shiskine started out as a nine-holer in 1896 and grew to 18 early last century before finally settling on 12 in 1912 as six holes on Drumadoon Hill fell out of favour.
Askernish on South Uist
The original Old Tom Morris 18-holer on South Uist gradually fell into disuse in the 1930s with the club creating 12 new holes on flatter ground away from the dunes.
Early this century, golf course consultant, Gordon Irvine, learnt of a lost Old Tom Morris course in the Hebrides thus setting the wheels of rediscovery in motion.
Three years later, the Old Tom Morris links at Askernish was open once more, with Irvine and co doing their best to recreate what they believed to be many of the original holes. The end result is a splendidly rugged natural links.
Whalsay in The Shetlands
The UK’s northernmost golf course was designed by Whalsay native, Graeme Sandison, in 1976, since when it has undergone several layout changes. The current 4th tee is the most northerly in the UK and the arctic terns that nest nearby sometimes go for golfers to protect their young.
Some of the views are breath-taking, nowhere more so than from the 16th tee – a truly stunning hole that hugs the cliffs as it drops steeply down to a magical green location.
Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight
Freshwater Bay enjoys perhaps the most striking setting of the island’s eight courses. The layout plays over a narrow strip of chalky downland, with plenty of room to the right on most holes – good news for the nation’s slicers.
The course is not heavily bunkered, with its elevated setting meaning the wind is its greatest defence. Its location in the south-west corner of the island allows you to see the sea to both the south and north.
Isle of Harris on the Isle of Harris
This beautiful nine-holer looks out over Taransay, the island made famous in 2000 by the BBC’s social experiment programme, Castaway. Golf was once played a little further down the west Harris coast, but the club has been at Scarista since 1985, and the setting is simply magical.
There can be few courses anywhere that better conjure up that “wonderful to be alive” feeling on a fine day.
Furness on Walney Island
Founded in 1872, Furness in Cumbria is England’s sixth oldest club. The bridge that now carries the A590 across Walney Channel replaced the ferry in 1908. This exhilarating links runs along the Irish Sea on the west coast of Walney Island.
There are panoramic views from every tee, whether the majestic peaks of the Lakeland hills to the north or Morecambe Bay to the south and east. Perhaps no hole is more challenging than the signature 10th – a tricky par 3 played from an elevated tee.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to some of the best island golf courses in GB&I.