Golf Course Review of Shiskine Golf Club
Shiskine Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: A quirky course that brings the widest of smiles to your face
Our 5 Star Rating: 3.6
Shiskine Golf (& Tennis) Club, set in a truly stunning location at Blackwaterfoot on the Isle of Arran, may only have 12 holes but there is nothing lacking in terms of the enjoyment or test of golf that is presented when playing this wonderfully captivating links.
It’s a course that brings a smile to your face.
In fact writing this review, many days afterwards, I am still grinning from ear to ear at the experience I had there in August 2014.
I can usually tell how much I like a course by the amount of times that I get my camera out to take photos. At Shiskine it got to the point where it wasn’t worth putting it away.
It’s a true links golf course that has its fair share of quirkiness but also presents a sound and varied test of golf with a number of excellent holes. It’s not championship golf but you must use your imagination to score well.
The course begins with a thrilling opening drive. A sandy beach is hard to your left but it is down this side you must be if you wish to a have a glimpse of the flagstick on a green that is mostly hidden by a large sandhill encroaching from the right. The second is another superb driving hole with an undulating fairway, which houses a centre-line bunker, before once again playing over the crest of a hill to a blind green fronted by a small burn.
Now the real fun begins.
The third, aptly named Crows Nest, is a mere 128 yards but has more going on in its relatively short yardage than in the entirety of some courses. Played steeply uphill you can clearly see a red flag which one initially assumes is the flagstick for the hole, however, by paying attention to a sign on the tee (and the essential yardage booklet)you quickly realise this is simply a signal flag to indicate that the hidden green is clear for play. Remove the flag when you reach the green and replace it when you have putted out. A black and white marker post 50 yards to the right of the red flag is your correct line although the green actually lies somewhere between the two indicators because the slope of the green and its surrounds will feed a ball in from the right. I loved the simplistic strategic nature of this hole where if you bail out too far to the right you face a tricky downhill chip or putt whilst those who dare to go close to the red signal flag, at the risk of a lost ball in the bank of gorse to the left, will have an easier uphill birdie putt.
Meanwhile, the fourth is as much downhill as the third was uphill. Your task is all before you here though as you play to a green with a most magnificent backdrop of shimmering sea.
From here the challenge stiffens. The fifth is a 243 yard par three with a slightly raised green, the next is a short par four but has out of bounds close to the right, although the bowl shaped green will help gather your approach, and the seventh is a totally blind short hole that uses a unique rope-pulley signal system to indicate that the green is clear! Fabulous stuff.
The eighth is another fine hole but my favourite on the course was perhaps the par five ninth. At a little over 500 yards and playing downwind it was reachable in two but the sloping nature of the fairway that twists one way then the other doesn’t guarantee a flat lie. A burn must also be crossed before you reach a green complex that allows you to work the ball in however which way you choose.
The round closes with a trio of par threes. The 11th is the pick of the bunch with a blind tee-shot to a bowl-green that is fronted by a huge hollow which means judgement of distance and ball flight on the tee-shot is paramount.
A visit to Felicity’s, just a few paces from the back of the 18th green, for some food in a relaxed environment is a great way to complete a round at Shiskine which takes no more than a couple of hours.
As you may have already figured there are a number of blind or semi-blind shots at Shiskine but this only adds to the drama and helps makes it a unique golfing experience. In many ways the course is seen as a bit of a golfing oddity and is essentially a throwback to how golf was played over one hundred years ago. Great fun and one I would urge anybody to sample.