10 QUIRKY HEBRIDEAN GOLF FACTS!
Little known facts and stories about Golfing in the Hebrides...
1. 'The Faldo Fiver'
Nick Faldo, one of Britain's most well known international golfers, once played Scarista golf course in South Harris in the early nineties and signed and deposited a 'Fiver' in the honesty box. This fiver was collected, glazed, framed and mounted by the club and is now competed for annually by Harris members. More recently Ronan Rafferty visited Scarista and was hugely impressed. He left a golf ball, which is being converted into a trophy and will be awarded as a prize in one of the club's competitions.
2. Old Tom Morris in Askernish...
Old Tom Morris is a famous golf course designer, who together with his son notched up eight British Open Titles in their lifetime. He crossed the British Isles by donkey cart, train and steamer laying out his inventive golf course designs. He laid out Askernish Golf Course in 1891 on the soft machair sands of South Uist, on a site which he described as '...second to none in the various elements which go to make up a really good course."
3. Most Westerly Golf Course
Barra Golf Course is the most westerly Golf Course in the United Kingdom.
4. The Hidden Bunker Clubhouse of Harris
Harris Golf Clubs new clubhouse has been built into the side of the hill so as not to obstruct the incredible views out to the Island of Taransay and the Atlantic beyond. It is not visible from the main road, so passers-by would be forgiven for believing it does not exist!
5. The Original Stornoway Golf Club
Prior to 1939, Golfing in Stornoway took place at the Melbost links course, situated on Broadbay, 1 ¾ mile outside Stornoway. The turf here was firm and the course was a favourite with all who played on it with its stunning coastal panoramas. In 1936, at the insistence of the Stornoway Trust, the land court issued an order resuming 140 acres of the Stenish part of the course for the purpose of creating a landing ground for aeroplanes and in 1939 construction began. Compensation was received for the construction of a new course and in 1947, the golf course in Lady Lever Park (the Castle Grounds) was opened.
6. The Old Enemy - SHEEP!!
There has been an on-going battle since golf began in the Hebrides between crofting and golfing. Many of the clubs were only tenants of the land sharing its use with crofting townships and thus having to open their fairways to cattle, sheep and horses during the grazing season. Many clubs compromised by fencing off the greens but now most own their courses and this is no longer a problem. James Shaw Grant recalls one of these 'compromising' situations:
"There was one black and white cow from Steinish which developed a taste for golf balls. Even when it was heavy with milk - Lord knows what gutta percha milk must have tasted like. Many golfers, whose long approach shot seemed destined for the hole, had his hopes dashed when a ton of animated beef went charging after the little white ball and swallowed it. The worst of the indignity was the self satisfied smirk on the cow's face as it ambled off with your brand new Dunlop 65 in the first of its many stomachs."(taken from Stornoway Golf Club Centenary magazine)
6. The Hebrides Alternative Golf Courses
There are other 'unofficial' courses in the Hebrides. There is one at Sollas on the west coast of North Uist, which has been set up by the local community and is a 9-hole course. It is open to the public, but opening is seasonal as it is on common grazing land - so please check first.)
There is also an unusual putting green by Shawbost school on the West Side of Lewis, although it is not open to public it is worth a look for its ingenuous design.
7. Longest Game of Golf In Britain
Our Islands lie between 57 and 59 degrees latitude so we get up to 22 hours of daylight at the height of midsummer. This means you can be playing golf well into the early hours if the desire takes you, but we recommend you don't stay out too late and go and enjoy our great pubs and restaurants!
8. Ladies First Please!
Stornoway Golf Club is well ahead of the better known mainland course in terms of equality: Stornoway had lady members as far back as 1941 and by 1969 had peaked at nineteen members! Women have always been very active in the club's fundraising ventures.
9. Press Stories
'World Golf' once described the Dardenelles at Stornoway Golf Course as:
"..the most difficult par 5 in Europe," while David Hamilton in "The Good Golf Guide to Scotland" remarked:
"Stornoway 1st 341 yards. A tricky par 4 hole at the start of this well designed parkland course. A notice on the first tee properly warns the player that the hole has a right angled bend, unique in Scotland, at the point reached by the drive"
10. The Honesty Box
The honesty box represents one of the best things about visiting the Hebrides - the island culture. It's a lovely part of golfing in the Hebrides - testifying to the security, honesty and trustfulness that is engrained in the local culture. At our links courses and at the Benbecula parkland course, you don't have to ask permission and pay in an office to play a round of golf. You simply pop your green fee in a wooden honesty box, and play to your heart's content!