You might be inspired by the knee-knocker at the Old Course but, for sheer spectacle, little compares to what will greet you on the first tee in this corner of Scotland

Did you feel that? That’s the breath being sucked out of your chest as you take in the scene. Forget the Old Course. It’s history but it’s basically a wide-open field. Forget Prestwick. The railway line that hugs the right side of the hole is fantastic but driver isn’t the optimal play here. And don’t all of us want to feel the satisfying crash of the big stick off the 1st tee?

No, if you want the buzz of golf’s greatest opening shot you’ve got to go to Argyll & Bute and the classic links of Machrihanish.

Old Tom Morris certainly had a sense for the dramatic when he carved out this first-shotter back in the late 19th century.

Known as ‘Battery’, that’s how you are going to feel if you’re in the grip of nerves and a lack of courage.

So what’s in front of you? Only a straight drive over the Atlantic Ocean!

This par 4 is 424 yards – a dogleg that moves to the left and a fairway that hugs the beach along the length of the hole.

To find that fairway you’ve got to strike it across nothing but beach and waves.

The question is: how brave are you?

The tee shot, in truth, is something of an illusion. At its narrowest point, you could carry the gap with a short iron. It’s only about 150 yards.

But you didn’t come here to do that. And so you take a chance, and bring the shore into play.

Maybe it’s the sight of the waves rolling in against the beach, coupled with the realisation that you’ve yet to hit a shot in anger yet, that makes Battery such a formidable and inspiring challenge.

And it’s a test you must confront at least once before you hang up your clubs.

Is the 1st at Machrihanish your favourite opening tee shot? What else grips your imagination? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

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