This club is famous for… having only 12 (glorious) holes

Courses and Travel

Nothing at Shiskine is conventional and that’s why the Scottish course is one of the most exhilarating in Britain…

I defy you to find another golf course as beautiful as this. Turnberry is sensational and the backdrop at Kingsbarns is epic.

But there’s something just magnificent about Shiskine Golf Club, the unconventional links on the Isle of Arran.

Overlooking the Mull of Kintyre and the Kibrannan Sound, its craggy features, holes played amid huge cliff and rock faces and large number of blind shots makes it an unforgettable experience.

Albeit a shorter one than perhaps you might expect. For this delight in south Scotland only has 12 holes.

Shiskine Golf Club

Now back in the day, 18 holes were hardly the standard.

Old Tom Morris designed Prestwick as a 12-hole course in 1851 and the first Open Championship was staged over three trips of the links. Musselburgh Links was originally seven holes.

Golf’s first set of rules, laid down in 1744 by the Gentlemen Golfers of Edinburgh, doesn’t mention 18 at all.

Where Shiskine differs is that it once did have what we’d class as a full complement. Founded in 1896, it was designed as a 9-hole layout by Willie Fernie – who lifted the Claret Jug in 1883.

Willie Park was then commissioned to extend the course to 18. But, during the First World War, some of the new holes were lost to agriculture.

That leaves us with the 12 that are enjoyed to this day. What a dozen they are as well.

Shiskine’s website describes the course as being “a little bit up and down”. That can’t prepare you for the two-hole stretch at the third and fourth – known as Crows Nest and The Shelf.

Both par 3s, the first is 128 yards playing almost 100 feet upwards to a green that’s basically nestling – hidden – under a giant rock face.

Shiskine Golf Club

The Shelf goes back down the other way, with the elevated tee providing quite a view.

Finishing the seventh, meanwhile, known as Himalayas, means raising a lever at the side of the green to signal to waiting players that the putting surface is occupied.

Everything at Shiskine is different, even down to the handicap conversion chart you use to work out how many shots you receive over the 12 holes.

Not bad for just £200 a year!

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