Our guest blogger this month is Iain Macleod, who has been golfing here since the 1950s….!
Golf on the Island
For an island 15 miles long by 4 miles wide, occupying a land area of less than 50 square miles, Bute is particularly well endowed in the opportunities for golfers.
There are three long-established courses on the island, each with its unique challenges and contrasting terrain, but each offering dramatic views of the land and seascapes of the Firth of Clyde.
Bute Golf Club. The oldest course on the island, dating back to 1888 is Bute Golf Club’s nine-hole course at Kingarth, washed by the waters of the Sound of Bute and looking westwards to the dramatic backdrop of the Sleeping Warrior on the Arran mountains.
For most of its existence, golfers had to share the course with livestock from the neighbouring farm of Quochag. This required the need for protective barbed-wire fences around the greens to keep sheep, cattle and, at times, even a couple of Clydesdale horses from damaging the lovingly manicured surfaces.
That all changed in 2009, with the Club obtaining sole occupancy of the course and embarking on an ambitious programme of restoration and renewal. Improvements have included a major investment to improve the greens, the construction of three new tees to extend the length of the course, the creation of three sand bunkers, the first such hazard. Most dramatic of all, perhaps, is the complete re-shaping of the first hole to form a right-to-left dogleg, skirting a water hazard on the right. . Some have opined that it is now the best hole on the island. An improved access road and the creation of a car-park have made new-look Kingarth even more attractive for visitors. Two rounds add up to a modest length of 5222 yards, with a standard scratch score (SSS) of 65.