4 reviews of Askernish Golf Club
I first heard about the Askernish redevelopment project about April 2006 when the story was carried on the Scottish news about a 'lost' Old Tom Morris course having been refound. Since then i have kept an eye on the project and was delighted to finally play the course recently (12/09/08).
I have to say that it was well worth the wait. Together with my two playing companions we rolled up at the pristine new clubhouse to a glorious sunny day, with a gentle breeze. The lady in the clubhouse was very friendly and cards in hand we made our way to the first tee.
All three of us hit the middle of the first fairway, a 490yd par 5, and we were off. The first few holes, 1 to 6 ,run along fairly level terrain and are bordered by thick rough and/or marshy wetland areas. Holes 7 to 16 then meander through and around massive duneland before the final two holes turn further inland to flatter terrain again.
Without going through the whole round particular highlights are the 438 yd 7th hole where you drive from an elevated tee situated on the shore of the Atlantic to a fairway that snakes between dunes on both sides. The fairway ,at about 270yds, narrows to approx 20yds wide(no exaggeration) before continuing to a long narrow, slightly raised green. This is without question the most demanding driving hole i have ever played ( even better than 14th at Alness!(try it) and a par 4 here should be treasured.
It is followed by the 8th, a classic short par 4, where the green is driveable though probably not a percentage play. I hit 4 iron ,p/w and had a 6ftr for birdie which i missed! I played driver with a 2nd ball for fun and hit a beauty into the breeze through the narrow gap and onto the green. Alas i missed the eagle putt! The danger with taking the driver is that if you miss the fairway right you are in serious rough/beach and if you miss it left you are in serious rough and have a terrible angle to pitch from. A very clever hole.
The 11th is a 191yd par 3 from a tee at the top of one dune across a glen to a green situated close to the Atlantic! This was playing into the wind,as it will most days, and required an absolutely flushed 3 iron to make the carry.
The 12th is a 582yd monster par 5 with a split fairway which meanders through,over and around dunes on all sides. The fairway on the right is on three islands so its a hole you really have to plot your way along. Fantastic!
The 14th is a 141yd par 3 where you play from an elevated tee across a valley to a green situated on top of a dune with drops on all sides. It is reminiscent of the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon in both looks and in terms of the demand placed on the tee shot. An absolutely classic par 3.
The 16th is a 351yd par 4. The difficulty with this hole is that the green is situated on a dune approx 30m above the level of the fairway. The green is two tiered, but two tiered like you've never seen before! The front part of the green is very small before the green drops approx 2m to a larger rear area. Unfortunately for us the pin was at the front which calls for a high approach shot which lands on probably the first 6 ft of green or your ball is destined for the back of the green. Saying that my colleague, big Craig , knocked his 2nd shot here to 6ft which caused astonished looks from the greenkeeper in the clubhouse debrief!
There are many other excellent holes on the course and in my opinion no poor holes, but the above were my highlights.
I played Cruden Bay recently and though it is a renowned course i would have to say that Askernish is superior.
Askernish is, without question, a supreme test of driving and you have to be on the fairways as the rough is truly brutal. The course also makes demands on strategy and course management, and when the greens are fully matured and quick they will be extremely testing of the short game/putting.
In short this is a classic links which is a must-play for all golfers and thanks should go out to all the parties involved in its redevelopment. Old Tom would be proud.
I played the course with James Elliott (see other review). What a course. It was my first time playing a links course and with the wind as strong as it was, it was a real challenge. It made me feel that that is what golf was meant to be like. The sweeping curves of the land and the complexity of the greens meant that there was always several different ways to play each shot, making tactical decisions and club selection so much more interesting than a bog standard parkland course that it was a different game altogether. Having said that, when you have to take a driver on a 190 par 3, hit a perfect shot and see it fall short of the fairway, it is always going to be difficult to play to your handicap. In fact a chap in the clubhouse said he'd buy me a dram if I could come in below 100. He was safe by a distance, and he knew it! That said, it was not a frustrating round - far from it. I played well and loved every minute. Even when searching for a ball in the machair - something I did spend quite some time doing - it was hard to feel aggreived in such beautiful surroundings. The remoteness of this course and the way it fits into the landscape makes you feel it has not been created, just revealed. In a way this is exactly what has happened! This is meant as the highest praise as the work that has gone in here must have been extensive and skilled. I would like to see some 150 yard markers - I found it very difficult to guage the distance to the green - especially as there are no trees or bushes, forshortening can make a mockery of your club selection! It also might be an idea to shoot some of the bunnies that have made a hole or two on some of the fairways!
This course is worth the effort to get to. We managed on foot, catching the ferry from Barra to Eriskay, catching the bus up to the course and returning the same day. It may in hindsight have been easier to take the car over, but it is do-able. Everyone we met was terribly friendly and helpful. When we got back to the ferry to see it pulling away from the quay we were amazed to see it reversing to come back to get us - where else would they be so helpful?
I have been going to the hebrides for years, and will now make every effort to play this course every time. I encourage you to do likewise!
A unique experience - a wonderful course with a great back story.
We played the day after the grand course re-opening; the course is still showing signs of newness in the conditions (greens aren't as weed free and refined as championship greens), but none of this affects playability or the experience. This is amongst the rawest, purest, thought-provoking links I can imagine. The Machair land on which the course is based (links land particular to the Hebrides) provides wonderful sweeps and curves, but punishes you horribly if you stray off line. Some tees, holes and views are breathtaking, both for visual drama, but also for the ability to make you stand for minutes at a time weighing up what is the correct option for the shot.
The course is (naturally) right by the beach, and this is the atlantic side of the island; the day we played, 7-12 were straight into the teeth of a force 5 gale. This is not constant, but should be considered as an option when picking your day!
Off course, there is a new clubhouse (small, tidy, does the job), and a great welcome both from the club, but also from general islanders (bus drivers x 2, chip shop in Daliburgh, taxi drivers, ferrymen.....) combining to make it a great all-round experience.
If you're in the area, a definite must-play. No question.
If you're considering a UK-based holiday, out of the way, great seafood and "different" atmosphere, Askernish may help swing your choice.
It must be said that it is a JOY to walk the greens of Askernish\r\ngolf course in Lochboisdale. I can't help but remember that day when \r\nI was ragging it through the holes, savouring those ecstatic moments \r\nwhen I finally putted into each hole knowing full well that as many\r\nothers had been there before as there will be after me.\r\n\r\nYou just couldn't get away from the feeling that the cousre itself\r\nwas loving it, encouraging you each step of the way. In my opinion \r\nI have never spent money so well.\r\n\r\nPaul Cameron H'Cap 7\r\n
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