Machrie Golf Links, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Argyll
Founded 1891. Links Course
Given its location, Machrie Golf Links may not be the easiest venue to work into an itinerary of Scotland’s best golf courses but manage it and you will discover just why most have found it a bewitching experience. Set in the dunes of Islay, this is one of the most beautiful locations in world golf. Originally designed in 1891 by Willie Campbell, the course has been modernised by DJ Russell, the former European Ryder Cup Vice Captain. Machrie’s teeth are not in its yardage, rather in its natural dunes and associated gusts. Machrie started its rise to prominence back in 1901 when the great triumvirate of Braid, Taylor and Vardon competed for a first prize of £100 and this rise continues today, with more and more visitors completing the pilgrimage.
Great golf is only part of the story when considering what makes the perfect golf trip. Thankfully, the other essential component parts are all found in abundance in Scotland, not least in the sights to see department. Whether scheduling a day off from golf or filling an afternoon after your morning round, there are many options regardless of which region you are visiting. The below is intended as a very general guide to sightseeing in the Ayrshire region.
Playing golf in Ayrshire is likely to see you staying no further south than Turnberry, from where some of the nearby attractions include the impressive ruins of Caerlaverock Castle near Dumfries and Dundrennan Abbey near Kirkcudbright. Only ten minutes from Turnberry is Culzean Castle & Country Park (above) and this is well worth a visit when travelling to or from Turnberry.
And while you are likely to be far too busy playing great golf courses like Turnberry, Royal Troon, Prestwick and Western Gailes, other attractions north of Turnberry in the Troon area include Dundonald Castle & Visitor Centre in Dundonald Village, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Souter Johnnies Cottage in Kirkoswald and Dean Castle Country Park in Kilmarnock.
You may not actually stay in Glasgow during your trip but there are plenty of sightseeing options including a visit to 13th century Bothwell Castle about ten miles southeast of Glasgow and the Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve. The many museums in or near Glasgow include the impressive Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the National Museum of Rural Life in East Kilbride, which provides an insight into rural life in Scotland in times past. If you are looking for a distillery in the area, Glengoyne Distillery, about 14 miles north of Glasgow is an excellent option.