Recently I had an email chat with Simon Freeman, the head greenkeeper at The Machrie Golf Links, and he is extremely optimistic about the future with new owners Gavyn Davies and his wife Baroness Sue Nye at the helm.
First up will be a new maintenance facility out on the golf course. The current one, which is better suited as a home for trolls not Freeman and his crack staff of greenkeepers, is located near the first tee.
“In actual fact we need new facilities regardless, because the owners have provided us with so much immaculate new machinery that we have completely outgrown our current sheds!” Freeman wrote.
The Machrie is located on the Isle of Islay off the southwest coast of Scotland. Besides the Willie Campbell golf course that opened in 1891, one of the finest links layouts in the world, there are eight distilleries producing the unique peaty-flavored, brown-hued heavenly liquid known as Islay single malt whisky.
Islay is also a destination for bird watchers, fisherman, hikers and bicyclists.
More changes will take place at The Machrie once the new water supply is connected to the property. Right now the owners are awaiting word from the government on when that will happen.
“Once we get a firm date will know when we are going to be able to re-open the restaurant and accommodations,” Freeman wrote. “Until then it will be very difficult for them to make plans for what work is financially viable to do to make the business workable for next season.”
Whether the connection happens or not, the golf course will open in 2012. Since there is not a single irrigation head on the layout a new water supply will not affect Freeman’s agronomic practices.
“The owners are committed to providing the best level of service they can next year, but what they can do depends on how quickly we get our supply and whether that allows us to operate fully for the entire season or just for part of it,” Freeman wrote.
According to Freeman, plans call for the hotel to be closed at the end of the 2012 season and for the entire site to be redeveloped.
Rumors in the Scottish golf community say that Davies and Nye may be looking to add a second course to make The Machrie more of a destination.
A second layout and a new hotel just may be enough to entice more golfers to that part of Scotland. The Kintyre Peninsula, and its two most famous golf courses, Machrihanish Golf Club and Machrihanish Dunes, are a delightful three-and-a-half ferry trip from Islay, or even less time if the journey is via airplane from an airstrip near The Machrie entrance to the Campbeltown airport located between the two Islay layouts.
Machrihanish Dunes, which already has first-rate accommodations with the Ugadale Golf Cottages, will be adding as options in 2012 the revamped Ugadale Hotel, adjacent to the cottages, and the Royal Hotel located in Campbeltown.
(Photo: Anthony Pioppi)