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A round of golf on Argyll's Secret Coast

A round of golf on Argyll's Secret Coast
Margo Andrew has lived in Tighnabruaich since 1999 and is a keen golfer. Here she gives us a lady's eye view of a round of golf on the Kyles of Bute Golf Course.

We golfers are always looking for a spectacular, challenging new course to play and Kyles of Bute Golf Club, situated on the hill just above Kames, is a cracker! Tucked away in the heart of Argyll’s Secret Coast, this 9-hole moorland course has surprises at every hole. The first, Short, is only 110 yards. Before you have even got warmed up you face a real challenge of a vertical approach to a green that requires great accuracy and a delicate touch with a penalty ditch behind it. Many are on the green in 1 and in the hole in 5 or 6 so be careful!

The second, Moss, is a blind carry to the green from all tee positions. The men have a huge carry over heather and rock while the ladies and juniors also face a daunting carry that seems to magnetically draw your ball into the bracken and scrub. Once you are over the hill, there is a deep ditch guarding the green at just THAT distance – you know the one – and is a great source of balls for the green keeper. If you make the green in 2, give yourself a large pat on the back. The third, Whins, appears relatively straightforward until you reach the green. It is, in my opinion, the hardest on the course, particularly in dry weather, and many strokes have been lost here.

Now prepare for a long, steady, climb up to the magnificent fourth green. This is Spion Kop and the views are simply breathtaking. Take time to have a seat, catch your breath and marvel on the brilliance of designing a course in such a beautiful place. The course was designed by David Adams, who also designed the course at Tobermory. It officially opened in 1907, although there had been a golf course on the site as far back at 1894.

Ready to tackle the fifth – Ascog? This is my favourite hole. It is so frustrating if you duff this drive as, from the elevated tee, that green is simply calling you to land it right on the sweet spot. However, beware as this is a green that has a sting in its tail too. Next, Ifrin, the sixth. The men have an impressive carry over heather and whins and with the added complication of a telegraph pole in the fairway with power lines. The ladies and juniors are not left out; our carry is considerable, but there is a crafty way out if you can play an accurate ball. You have driven a cracker – hurrah – and you stride up to take your second shoot and then we ladies realise that we have a wee problem to consider – should you go for the green and carry the penalty burn or play safe and take an extra stroke?

Finally you are on the green and in the hole, but that elusive par 4 has long gone. Up the hill and then – wow – the magnificent Kyles of Bute stretches out in front of you with amazing views towards Tighnabruaich, Rhubbann and onwards to Colintraive and down the Kyles to Inchmarnock. On Wednesdays throughout the summer the PS Waverly takes her afternoon cruise. The sound of the paddles beating on the water carries right up to the golf course – it is quite magical and never to stir the soul.

Now on to the seventh: MacTavish’s. This is a tricky one as the fairway changes depending on the weather. When the ground is damp you can risk a direct approach down the steep hill to the green, but, if the ground is dry and the fairway freshly cut, the shot is quite different. The fairway runs left-handed towards the sea and is steep, so your ball is going left, left, left. You need a strategy here. Fire it right and let it run down or hold it to the green? Oh and I need to let you know that the green sits at the bottom of the hill, but is elevated at the rear. If you overshoot you are off down a very steep bank into some serious trouble. The eight, Cnoc, shares the same fairway so you need to be aware of fellow golfers coming down the seventh before you head back up. Ah yes – back up. Now you are driving up that same hill that wanted to take your ball off to the sea and it is still determined to have its way. Keep it left and aim for the clump of trees. Sounds simple but the tees sit low and the contours of the hill really do catch you unawares.

And so to the finale: the wonderful ninth, The Burn. You are on top of the world standing high above the magnificent Kyles of Bute and are about to drive from this elevated tee back towards the clubhouse. If you are lucky the wind will be behind you and your ball can soar towards that oh-so- inviting final green. However, that penalty burn that caught you out on the sixth is waiting for you again. You watch your ball soar out across the fairway then stall because the wind has changed direction and is now blowing hard in your face and causing your ball to hesitate, drift then drop right into the burn. That old dilemma again: play short onto the fairway then pitch onto the green for a chance at that par 3 or go for it and make the green. The final choice of the day is always yours and yours alone.

You have made it and do you know the best bit? You can go right on up to the First and do it all again. Go on – you know you want to.

Visitors are very welcome to use the Kyles of Bute Golf Course. The summer rate is £10 for 9 holes or £15 for an all-day ticket. Simply collect a card from the honesty box and pop your fees in one of the envelopes provided into the green postbox.

Annual membership is £135 per annum.

Visit: www.kylesofbutegolfclub.co.uk

Visit: www.kylesofbutegolfclub.co.uk
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