Traveling to Golf by Air, Land, and Sea machrihanish

Kroonstad I don’t like to fly on the same plane with soccer teams, Cub Scout dens, Shriner lodges, or similar groups, because it’s too easy to imagine the headline the following day: “Plane Carrying All Members of Small Order of Spanish Nuns Goes Down in North Atlantic.” So I felt more than slightly anxious when, a few minutes before our scheduled departure, two dozen members of a Scottish cheerleading team, who had had to run to make their connection, boarded our plane. I learned later that the team was from the Blast Cheer & Dance Academy, in Glasgow, and that they had just won an international title of some kind at a big competition in Virginia Beach, Virginia. blast

Miraculously, the flight went smoothly, and on Saturday morning at 7:30 eleven friends and I landed in Scotland, ready to play golf. We were met at the airport by a bus from Celtic Golf, which planned our trip.

on the bus

Our bus driver’s name was Dave, and that’s also the name of a quarter of the people on our trip. The only kind of people we have more of is lawyers. When the lawyers reply-all to golf-trip emails, the boilerplate disclaimers at the bottom pile up like litter against a parking-lot fence.


That first day, straight from the airport, we played two rounds, one at Western Gailes and one at Dundonald, which is next door. Everybody loved Western Gailes and was basically OK with Dundonald, which is owned by the people who own Loch Lomond. The picture below is from Western Gailes, and two of the people in it are named Dave.

western gailes

Dave the driver had told us to be ready to roll at 10:30 the next morning. I didn’t see Peter A. as we were loading our stuff onto the bus, so at 10:35 I called his room from the front desk of our hotel. He picked up after about twelve rings, and said, Yeah, yeah, I’m on my way—and five minutes later we left. That afternoon, he told me that he had actually been asleep when the phone rang, and that he had set a personal record for getting dressed, packing a suitcase, and vacating a hotel room.


That morning, the bus took us not to a golf course but to Troon Harbor, where we boarded a chartered twelve-passenger motorboat, owned by a company called Kintyre Express. The boat took us to Campbeltown, the home of Machrihanish Golf Club, on the Kintyre Peninsula. 


Machrihanish is hard to get to by car; going by boat knocks a couple of hours off the trip. Nice scenery, too.

lighthouseMachrihanish has been on my golf dream list for a long time. I’ll have more to say about it later. After three days there, we had to get back on our boat, and move on to our next destination, so that we could play more golf, but somewhere else. I’ll have more to say about that soon, too. In the meantime, here’s what Tony and David M. had for dinner our first night in Campbeltown:

mixed grill

10 thoughts on “Traveling to Golf by Air, Land, and Sea

  1. I am so glad the Scottish cheerleading team didn’t bring you down, literally. I can see the headline: Blast Cheer & Dance Academy Airline Disaster, with the subhead, A Dozen Golfing Daves Among The Victims.

    • One of the Daves left early this morning. Just two Daves are left to play the Island, tomorrow, along with seven odds and ends.

  2. Is that blood pudding in the photo? That and haggis are two of my favorite dishes. The Scots like to say that if you don’t smoke, eat deliciously fat foods, drink and carouse a wee bit, you may not live to be a hundred but it’ll feel like it. Not often you see BP offered for dinner, but it’s good at any time.

    • Yes, blood pudding, aka black pudding. Some of the best is made in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides. On our first night in Campbeltown, we had haggis nachos (of all things). They turned out to be pretty great. I like non-nacho haggis and black pudding, too, although it’s probably best not to think too hard about how they’re made, or what they’re made from. One Scottish guy said (correctly) that eating either was less crazy than eating a hotdog.

        • There are several companies that will ship your clubs to your first destination, at least in the US. It’s not cheap, but if you’re playing for at least a few days that might be cheaper than renting. I did it once with FedEx. They have (or had) heavy shipping bags meant for golf bags. At that time, at least, FedEx didn’t hand out the bags one at a time, but gave you a box of twenty-five. That was twenty-four more than I needed, but the bags worked great for stuff like hauling demolition debris.

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