Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Exposure: Seaside golf on the Isle of Iona

First tee marker on the Isle of Iona golf course
The first tee marker at the Isle of Iona's golf course.
Cows graze. Sheep nestle in the sand traps. A hidden corncrake mutters its call, like the tines of a comb dragged across wood. The wind is stiff, but the waves lap softly onto shore.

No clubhouse, no fees, no tee times. Nor any golf carts, caddies, smooth greens, restrooms, beer carts. Sometimes, the sheep have eaten the flags.

Cows graze on the greens, Isle of Iona golf course
The cows help keep the course trimmed . . . and fertilized.
To avoid frustration, avoid a white ball. The weeds are voluminous. As are the tufts of sheep fur clinging to the sandy machair grass. For your ball, think pink.

Even so, you're probably gonna lose a few. Perhaps because you hit your ball in the exact opposite direction of the hole, since no flag remained to indicate the hole's location. Or the ball caromed off a rocky outcrop into a deep crevice. Or maybe, given the composition of the soil, you hit your drive and the ball sank into the ground on impact, enveloped by the sandy soil and never to be seen again.

It's like no other golf course you've played on.

Natural. Authentic. Rugged. Serene. The course has been fit to the land, not vice versa. It's the way golf began, hundreds of years ago. Every so often, a professional player shows up, just to reconnect with the ancient mores of the game.

One day in August every year, the course hosts the Iona Open. All and sundry are welcome. Played on only eleven of the holes, the winner is whomever has the best scratch score on any nine of them. Some years, a professional or two play the Open. And lose.

Every other day of the year, it's all yours. Some folks make pilgrimages to visit Iona's ancient abbey. Your pilgrimage, to the windswept golf course on Iona's southwestern coast, awaits.

Sheep hazards on the green, Isle of Iona golf course
Typical sheep hazards on the green.


11 comments:

  1. Yet another wonderful destination to add to the growing list, Brian. Thanks!

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    1. Iona is fabulous, and not just for its golf course. We highly recommend a visit!

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  7. Just a note for the folks who comment on this post with links to their businesses (some on-topic and others, oddly, not at all related). I have and will continue to delete your comments since they are inappropriate here.

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