The Machrihanish Golf Club | Established 1876

The Machrihanish Golf Club

Est 1876 | The Historic Golf Club & Links Courses

Golf Club History

Machrihanish Golf Club History

Club Formation

A meeting was held, on the 11th March 1876 in the Argyll Arms Hotel whose purpose was to organise a golf club in the town of Campbeltown, then known as The Kintyre Golf Club.

The membership fee was set at 10 shillings with a further 5 shillings annual subscription (green fees). The rules were adopted at that time from Prestwick.

Golf had been played at Machrihanish before the formation of the club as far back as 1871, but it wasnt until 1876 that the club officially formed. During the first year of the club formation no less than forty-one people had became members.

With this popularity came expansion, as the course was enlarged from 10 holes to 12 with the advice of Charles Hunter from Prestwick. Monumentally in 1879 the club sought the expertise of Old Tom Morris, as you will read in the Tom Morris page, he won the Open Championship no less than four times in his professional golfing career and was a knowledgeable golf professional. Old Tom Morris, assisted Machrihanish Golf Club extending from the then 12 hole course to a full 18 holes when new land was secured, where the first hole was moved to its current position. Now recognised as, one of, if not, the best opening golf holes in the world.

In 1879 after the extending of the golf course in the natural links environment, Jim Morris, Tom Morris, Bob Martin (all of St Andews) and Jack Morris of Hoylake all played a round for prizes with a prize of £10 up for grabs, quite a pricely sum in those days as you can imagine. Jim Morris scored 78, Bob Martin scored 81, Tom Morris 86 and Jack Morris 87, and afterwards the recognised statement, "specifically designed by The Almighty for playing golf" was expressed by Old Tom Morris reflecting on just how marvellous and natural the course was.

In April 1894, another professional and amateur tournament was held with the value of prizes at £100, with Sandy Herd winning with rounds of 78 and 76 respectively with a prize of £20.

Within 2 months of the formation of the Kintyre Golf Club, the local paper, The Campbeltown Courier refers to the course as 'our magnificent links'.

In 1897, with an entry fee of one guinea and an annual subscription of ten shillings the membership had increased to a whopping 300 members, most members being from Glasgow, Edinburgh and as far away as London and overseas.


In the years following 1897 caddies were supplied at the course, presumably to allow the members to enjoy a round without carrying all their clubs but perhaps also to speed up play due to the high numbers of players at that time. The caddies were paid and given lunch, pay only being 9d for a round and lunch, you only received 6d for 9 holes but no lunch.


In days gone by golf was seen as a man's game, where men socialised and enjoyed the banter and social aspect away from women and the home and ladies were not allowed to play at all on the mans' course.

In 1889 changes started with the matter considered by the club committee of 'providing a course for ladies'. Additional land was available for rent for only £6 per year. However the ladies wanted to play alongside their husbands and it took until 1897 until a resolution to allow ladies to play golf on the mans' course as long as they were accompanied by a member and they also had to give way to gentlemen groups following behind. There was many a discussion and argument that followed, including restricting tee times for ladies at lunch time only, but this was also shortlived.

However, today ladies may play the course without restriction.

After an invitation in 1907 for the Scottish Ladies to hold their championship at Machrihanish, in 1909 the invitation was accepted and the ladies returned in 1913, with the championship played at Muirfield in 1914 with the winner being Miss Eva Anderson, Machrihanish!

After the first world war the ladies returned twice in the 1920's to hold the Scottish Ladies championship.

Transportation problems occurred after the war and it was 40 years before ladies began to return to Machrihanish to play golf, at this time the reigning ladies champion was Belle McCorkindale of Dunaverty! who won again at Machrihanish in 1966 and 1972.

The Course

The original Machrihanish Golf Course consisted of 10 holes, extended to 12 then extended to the full 18 holes a couple of years after its conception. The course was further altered in 1914 when the services of the famous Open Championship, J.H. Taylor were obtained. The final adjustment to the course was made soon after enlisting the services of Sir Guy Campbell, the famouse golf course Architect to the course as it now stands today.


The first appointed professional was Archie Thomson, on 8th October 1920. Many fine golfers were trained by Archie, including his son Hector who left Machrihanish in 1926 and opened a golf shop and golf school in Glasgow until 1954.

Archie was followed as pro at Machrihanish by his brother Hector who in his later years was the oldest teaching professional at 90 years of age! who passed away in 1971. Hectors son Arthur became the professional at Machrihanish after playing football at Clyde and being a fine amateur golfer.

The passage above is a much shortened version of the orginal text to be found in the booklet '100 Years Of Golf at Machrihanish', with a forward by S. J. McKinlay. Historians and golf fanatics everywhere will enjoy this interesting read.

The booklet '100 Years Of Golf at Machrihanish' can be purchased either from the Pro Shop or alternatively from the Clubhouse at Machrihanish.

Old Tom Morris

'Old' Tom Morris was born in St Andrews, 1821 and died in 1908 aged 86.

Tom Morris began his golfing career making feather golf balls for 12 years before the gutta ball replaced the feathered balls. He grew to be an accomplished golfing professional, course designer and golf club maker and moved to Prestwick in 1851 where he was employed as a greenkeeper at Prestwick Golf Club. Some years later Tom moved back to St Andrews where he established a clubmaking business by the side of the 18th green at St Andrews Old Course.

Tom Morris competed in every Open Championship from 1860 to 1896 and won the competion four times during his professional career in 1861, 1862, 1864, and 1867.

Old Tom Morris was famed for his golf course design, charging £1 per day for his services and was responsible for the design and alteration of many of Britains famous courses including Prestwick, Royal Dornach, Carnoustie, Muirfield, Nairn and our very own Machrihanish Golf Club.

His portrait can be seen at St Andrews.

Current Course Status

Connect Connect

Championship Course Status 20/04/2019 - OPEN - No Scheduled Competitions Today - No Reported Course Problems

Pans ( 9 Hole ) Course Status 20/04/2019 - OPEN - No Scheduled Competitions Today - No Reported Course Problems

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The Machrihanish Golf Club, Golf Club House, Machrihanish, Argyll, Scotland, PA28 6PT
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