The Isle of Arran Golf courses are a collection of charismatic nine-holers and can be played as a fun day from Ayrhsire
Image permission from Hamish Bannatyne.
To view some of Hamish’s work from Shiskine & Arran [CLICK]
To view some of Hamish’s work from Shiskine & Arran [CLICK]
Sitting off the Ayrshire coast in the Firth of Clyde is the Isle of Arran. Arran is both small and comparatively isolated. It’s golfing evolution reflects this positively on two fronts. In the first case there wasn’t the huge tracts of playable land available. As a consequence the Arran golf courses concentrated on quality rather than quantity and has developed some of the finest nine hole courses in Scotland. The result of this is well maintained courses with a plethora of charismatic par 3’s making Arran a fun days golf. Let’s be honest, everyone likes a par 3!
The second consequence of Arran’s comparative isolation is that the golf industry never really sunk its teeth into the island. What does this mean? Well Arran is perhaps a lot closer to the ethereal spirit of Scottish ‘village golf’. It also means that the temptation to extract as much money as possible from visiting players has been resisted. A day spent touring the courses we’ve laid out for you on Arran, will still cost less than a single round at all of the big names on the west coast
OK …. we suppose we might as well admit it at this point. Faraway Fairways have become increasingly aware from your enquiries that a number of folk are growing a little bit uncomfortable about some of the venues associated with our west coast tour. As you might imagine, Faraway Fairways would prefer to stay out of the politics of this, but we also have a duty to lay on alternatives for those of you who might prefer to avoid some places. The one thing we will say is that Arran is not a like with like replacement for Turnberry. Put simply, we can’t equal Turnberry with anything in this part of Scotland. The best we can do by way of alternative is to offer you something completely different
There is only one way of doing this; boat!. Ferries from Ardrossan (Ayrshire) leave regularly on a daily basis for Brodick (Arran). The first ferry leaves at 07.00. If you would prefer a slightly later sailing then the next one departs at 08.20.
The last return sailing back to mainland Scotland leaves at 19.20, albeit there is a slightly earlier alternative if you would prefer at 18.00. All in all you should be able to budget for between nine to eleven hours on Arran, although you could reduce if you wanted.
No problem. The ferry takes cars. There is a road that runs around the 56 mile circumference of Arran, and another one that bi-sects it east and west. Basically it’s a sort of figure of eight. In total, the three courses we’ve nominated for your day on Arran should only involve approximately 90 minutes of driving, and about 40 miles, broken up by three stops. If you’ve done the mathematics, this is an average speed of about 25 mph. Things move at fairly sedate pace on Arran. Driving is a quite leisurely activity
CORRIE – 1915 yds, 1 hr 30 mins to play, five par 3’s
Nestling in the hills to the north of the island lies a true nine hole golfing gem. As you tee off in the direction of the unassuming first hole you will eventually ascend up into the hills at the back of the course. Corrie is an immensely enjoyable course to play with an ideal mixture of challenges. Holes 2-5 play towards a foreboding glen framed by steep sided mountains. Holes 6-9 play back towards the lowland with extended views over the Clyde.
MACHRIE BAY – 2278 yds, 1 hr 40 mins to play, three par 3’s
Set beside the sea with fantastic views over the Kilbrannan Sound towards the Kintyre Peninsula, this nine hole course is reasonably flat and cruelly exposed should the wind decide to make you earn your stripes. It more closely resembles a links. Divided by the Shore Road which leads you from and to the beach it yields stunning sunsets for the twilight golfer.
SHISKINE – 1596 yds, 2 hrs 15 mins to play, seven par 3’s
Shiskine is a truly unique course, not just because it is a quirky 12 hole layout, but also because it boasts some of the most breath-taking par 3’s you’ll ever likely encounter in a single round. The coastal setting is fabulous with shots played from elevated tees in the shadow of craggy basalt columns, to improbable greens hanging onto the edge of cliffs. The third and fourth holes would be legitimate candidates to be considered the most spectacular back to back par 3’s you will play anywhere
LOCHRANZA or BRODICK (Optional)
There are two ways of landing on Arran. Lochranza serves the west coast and is used from the Kintyre Peninsula (Machrihanish in golf parlance!). Brodick serves the east coast and is used from Ayrshire. As good fortune would have it, both these communities also have their own golf course. If you’ve caught the first ferry from Ardrossan, and agreed to take the last one back from Brodick, Faraway Fairways would expect to succeed in accommodating Lochranza into a programme to make up a fourth course if you wanted ‘max out’ your Arran day.
Lochrnaza is a nine hole course of a manageable 2332 yds. It lies in amongst an area of designated nature conservation. Local inhabitants include red deer, red squirrels and golden eagles. It makes for a natural lunch stop, as it would normally be played second (after Corrie). Home cooking is available at the Stags Pavilion restaurant. Across the road, The Isle of Arran Distillery has a cafe, shop and offers whisky-tasting tours.
With magnificent views of Goatfell and the surrounding peaks, Brodick is somewhat of the ‘odd-man-out’. It’s an 18 hole golf course! Your chances of completing all the holes would be slim, so be prepared to cut your losses and play the front nine at 2448 yds, or perhaps only far as the seventh. The course is parkland out, and links in. The course is within walking distance of the ferry terminal. At Faraway Fairways we kind of suspect a golfer sitting around waiting for their sailing isn’t going to be able to handle a golf being within their view whilst they’re kicking their heels!
Alternatively, you could choose to visit Brodick castle instead or do a bit of shopping. Arran is famed for its knitwear, cheese, and naturally of course, its whisky.