Shiskine Golf Club
PAR 42 – 12 Holes
Designers: Willie Park
On the Isle of Arran off the coast of Ayrshire, lies a course unlike any other in Scotland. One might even say there’s simply nothing else like it in golf.
The Shiskine Golf Club started as a 9-hole course designed in 1896 by Willie Fernie, a former Open champion and the head professional at Royal Troon. Willie Park, Jr. – who gave us the magnificent Old course at Sunningdale – was commissioned to extend the course to 18-holes, but neglect during the Great War left six of those holes no longer suitable for golf. Rather than acquire new land to complete the course, Shiskine simply pressed on with the 12 remaining holes which are played to this very day.
While a 12-hole layout is certainly unconventional, so too is the course itself. While traversing the rugged terrain in the shadow of the Drumadoon Cliffs, a blind shot comes into play on nearly every hole, sometimes twice. The 3rd hole, for example, is a par-3 played nearly straight up to an invisible green built onto the side of a cliff. This is followed by the enchanting 4th, which plays right off the same shelf to a green set against Kilbrannon Sound. The view from the tee alone will have made the trip to Arran fully worthwhile.
Shiskine is equal parts quirky and eccentric, as well as thrilling and spectacular. It is golf in its purest form, on a course that would simply never be built today. This little 12-hole course is the equivalent of a golf roller coaster, and just like any great thrill ride, the golfer comes away smiling, excited, and oftentimes craving more.
Luckily, the whole round only takes about two hours, leaving plenty of time for another ride.
Major Basil Haversham, OBE