This club is famous for… being ‘lost’ and found

Courses and Travel

They knew they had an Old Tom Morris classic on their hands, but what was revealed at Askernish was astonishing…

You’ve got to really want to go to Askernish.

South Uist is a beautiful island in the Outer Hebrides – renowned for its clear waters and white powder beaches – with a population of little more than 1,500.

It’s a long drive and there’s also a flight – or ferry – to negotiate before you step anywhere near the turf.

But that didn’t stop Old Tom Morris from making what must have been a very testing journey in 1891 to create a course at the request of Lady Cathcart, a wealthy landowner.

The course, set amid a frankly astonishing backdrop of sea and dunes, thrived until the early 1920s before demand for the game started to decline.

Some of those precious holes were swept back into the wild. It served as a shorter course, a 12-hole layout and, at one time, parts of the machair were even used as an airstrip.

As the decades passed, the delights of the ‘lost’ course started to slip into legend.

Askernish Golf Club

In 2005, though, a band of locals set about bringing Askernish back to life. Along the way, they roped some of the golf industry’s biggest names into lending a hand.

Master greenkeeper Gordon Irvine and esteemed architect Martin Ebert laid the foundations, while Tom Doak has subsequently added his input into the project. It re-opened 10 years ago.

What lies at Askernish now is golf as it was meant to be played. There’s little fuss. If the clubhouse is closed, leave your greenfee in an envelope and push it through the door.

Greenkeeping methods are natural – don’t expect to see teams of mowers manicuring this natural course. It’s probably as close to golf in the 19th century as you can get.

It begins with undulating greens and sweeping changes of elevation in a six hole loop that includes two par 5s.

The course then moves out to the 7th where waiting is the Atlantic and Barra.

From there, work your way through a dunes system that many have tried to copy but which is moulded by nature and can’t be replicated.

Surely one of the finest links courses in the United Kingdom, it’s a trek to play but well worth the determination.

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