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West Scotland

This club is famous for… being the world’s greenest course?

You would have to go back to when the first shots were played to find a course quite as natural as Scotland's Machrihanish Dunes...
 

Machrihanish Dunes. Gorgeous, isn’t it? A course that makes you swoon at the very sight of it.

Flowing from and along the sea, with the Isle of Islay in full view, there are few spots more breathtaking to take in a round than at this Argyll haven.

Harking back to the days of Old Tom Morris, this is golf as it was intended – natural and against the elements.

That was deliberate. Architect David McLay Kidd used the lie of the land to design the course, rather than changing it to suit his plans.

Machrihanish Dunes

The only course ever created on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, of the 259 acres on which it sits just seven were moved when it was constructed.

The tees and greens were shaped. Everything else was left as it was first found.

Even the mowers are used sparingly at Machrihanish Dunes.

As the architect says on the club’s website: “For maintenance we will do a little mowing, but will mostly rely on the wandering sheep to keep the fescue in check – just like the old courses used to do.”

With the links land protected by the Scottish Government and the dunes ever changing, you’ll play shots here you would never usually countenance.

It’s an approach that has seen the layout, which opened in 2009, showered with awards.

From lofty positions in rankings lists, the chiefs who run it have also been recognised for their determination to protect the environment.

Only last year, the International Association of Golf Tour Operators hailed Machrihanish Dunes for “outstanding commitment to sustainable golf”.

With several protected species of flora and fauna found on the course, can there be another in the world that is quite as natural, or as green, in its outlook?

 

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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