Haematopus Ostralegus in Focus

by LINKS75 on August 27, 2013

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We travel from England – the Isle of Man – back to Scotland. We take the car to Kintyre on Scotland’s answer to State Highway 1 before stopping at Campbeltown. Once the capital of the whisky world, now the gateway to links heaven – Machrihanish. With an oyster catcher as its emblem, the course has been laid out as nature intended among sand dunes with views over the islands of Islay and Jura. In honour of all this we are blessed with sun and clear, blue sky. Number 72. The 1st hole – “Battery” – has been described as the world’s best opening hole and sets the scene. A drive over, the beach, surfers and Sunday strollers to a waiting fairway at a 90-degree angle. Links delight! A part of our white gold ends up on the beach, to the huge delight of a waiting group of Danes. At the 3rd the course turns 90 degrees and has a blind tee over the 16th green.

Third green with Jura in the background, Machrihanish

Third green with Jura in the background, Machrihanish

The 4th is a short par 3 of great charm. On the 5th – a par 4 – “Punch Bowl” – we are waived through by a group ahead in meter-high elephant grass. dogleg left with sighting post in the middle of the fairway. In front of the green is a deep hollow with hidden bunkers and a grassy ravine to the right. The course proceeds naturally with every fairway laid out 200 yards away like small well-cut surfaces in the middle of a sea of elephant , with the sea and rolling dunes always in attendance. The 7th is a 476-yard par 4 with high ridge and sighting post 320 yards away towards the left. An extremely effective guarding mound lies in front of the green. A hole that reflects the grandeur of the front nine. The 8th is called “Gigha” after a small island offshore Kintyre, whose name means “God’s island”. The approach is towards a high, expectant green from links heaven. The 9th has a sighting post and parallel shifted fairway. LINKS75 has difficulty keeping to the true course. We look along the coast and see our neighbour – Machrihanish Dunes – greet us with a smile. We head for home after nine memorable holes still fresh in our minds. The 10th and 12th are both par 5s. The 12th has a closing sand dune on guard at the entrance to the green and finally a hollow with elephant grass and bunkers. We manoeuvre with class – birdie! The 15th and 16th are two straight par 3s that require precision and length. we escape with bogey and par.

18th green, Machrihanish

18th green, Machrihanish

Finally we stand on the 18th and a waiting clubhouse, and share fairway bunkers with the 1st. On the beach a stray golfer adjusts his stance in the middle of Sunday lunch of a bemused holidaying family.  We want to play the first nine again, master the teeing off on the 1st, survive the 7th, and take pleasure in the “Punch Bowl”. A remote, archetypal links which arouses strong feelings of joy.

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