Home IGC NewsLetters December 1996
December 1996


A recent article in a Sunday newspaper reminded me of a joke Alistair McLachlan tells (again and again). The paper related the story of four elderly golfers about to enjoy their regular game. Unfortunately one of the party, after hitting a perfect drive down the first fairway, collapsed and died. Initial shock, disposal of body by ambulance, a quick double brandy and the four -ball continued as a three -ball. "Willie would have wanted it that way" was the reply to the questioning staff. "Willie would have wanted it that way" was also the alleged response by the widow.

Alistair's version: The three-ball, carrying the body of their deceased partner into the clubhouse was asked by the steward where the member had collapsed. "Out at the ninth" was the reply. "That was some distance to carry the body". "It wasn't so much the distance, it was the lifting and lying between the shots. Three double brandies please".

That's what the game needs - dead-ication, being involved in a match after you have popped your clogs.


Missing since the mid eighties the magnificent Machrie Misfits recently made a return to Machrie for a memorable weekend. Members originally were made up of greenkeeping staff with a few from outside. Matters involving Murdo meant the Misfits might not meet at Machrie till the mid-nineties but new management by Malcolm made them again welcome. Members of Islay Golf Club were matched to the Misfits of Sunday 10 November and after some manoeuvring by the match secretary members met on the first tee with mutual handicaps and merriment in mind. Mild weather made the meteorological forecast correct and not a Machrie midge in sight.. After the match the members met to enjoy a fine menu of mushroom soup and made-up sandwiches by the master chef. The match result was incidental but the meticulous method of mathematics meant that the match was mutually shared. A motion to muster at Machrie before the Millennium met with massive approval. The Misfits managed another magic round over Machrie before leaving on Monday for the mainland.


Malcolm King has announced the festive programme for the hotel and if you haven't received your brochure here is a resume.

13, 14 and 15 December 1996

Friday: Dinner in Byre Restaurant followed by dancing in function suite.

Saturday: Daytime Golf Competition. Party in evening.

Sunday: Morning clay pigeon shoot.

21 to 28 December 1996

Saturday: Party Night

Sunday: Clay pigeon shoot

Monday: at leisure

Tuesday: Daytime activities followed by light lunch. Pre dinner Carol concert. Dinner followed by dancing to our Xmas Band.

Wednesday: Daytime activities followed by light lunch. Pre dinner cocktails. Dinner and dance.

Thursday: Golf competition for those up to it or a leisurely brunch. Distillery trip if sufficient numbers. Dinner followed by Race Night.

Friday: Time to relax.


30 December to 2 January 1997

Monday: Arrive and get set

Tuesday: First round of a two day Stableford competition, aptly named the 'Icicle Trophy'. A special Hogmanay Buffet " the likes of which you have probably not seen before" Later a Dance to a local Ceilidh band.

Wednesday: The second round of the Icicle Trophy - not too early-. For those who do not make it, a New Year's Day brunch will be provided.

Thursday: Auld Lang Syne


During recent years I have been taking photographs of the Cross finalists driving off at the start of the final rounds and photos of the captain making his entrance to' drive in'. Unfortunately the Oban Times, who had specially asked for copy and photographs, lost the spool and didn't print the copy of the Cross Week. If any member has photographs of Captain Tim literally driving in on the greenkeepers buggy and or shots of the players, I would appreciate copies for the archives.



The pewter tankard was again at stake when the Lochgilphead team arrived on Saturday 12 October to play over Machrie. Mild, calm and pleasant conditions were the forecast for the competition and the weather was to be benign as well. Something went wrong in the team talk given by Ralph Middleton as at the end of the six matches Islay found itself beaten by four to two. This resulted it the tankard returning to the mainland. A buffet lunch had been prepared and the players had just time to wash it down with their favourite tipple before being rushed of to Port Askaig in the hotel's courtesy coach for their return trip. So enjoyable was the day that the Lochgilphead team have resolved to extend next year's visit to a weekend. The Home and Away matches are already on the Fixture List


All golf clubs are well aware of the support and sponsorship the sport receives from the distillery trade. Islay Golf Club is no exception, indeed if it were not for the involvement over the years of the owners and employees of the local distilleries Islay Golf Club might not exist.

In 1890 the owner of Lagavulin Distillery on Islay, Peter Jeffrey Mackie, together with other local businessmen, formed the steering committee for the foundation of Islay Golf Club.

By 1894 P J Mackie, later to become Sir Peter Jeffrey Mackie, bart. had been appointed Captain of the Club and he realised that in the early years of its development the club needed to attract the top golfers to Islay. To this end he presented for competition a magnificent silver trophy to be called the Lagavulin Challenge Quaich. Replica trophies would be presented to the winner and in the event of the trophy being won for a third time by the same player he was allowed to retain the original. This rule was soon to be regretted as by 1899 the trophy had been won by H C Cameron, a mainland member and twice previous victor on the Machrie Links. And so the first prestigious trophy of Islay Golf Club left the Island. The story of its hundred year history was recently recorded in the pages of 'The Scottish Golfer' and in further detail in the Club's recently published book - 'Chronicle of Islay Golf Club and the Machrie Links' - available in hardback from the club secretary.

Through the generosity of United Distillers, the current owners of Lagavulin and White Horse, the trophy was returned to Islay Golf Club earlier this year.

In September, almost exactly 102 years after it was won for the first time by local member John Bolland, the stage was again set for a 36 hole Stableford competition over Machrie Links. Typical windy weather greeted the thirty-seven stalwarts. Fortunately the morning round remained dry contrary to the weather forecast. The conditions however reflected the scores when, by the lunch break, the top points had been accumulated by Dan Heads with 36 on his card. Several other players had over thirty points and all was to play for in the afternoon. The forecast was accurate though its timing less so. Wind and now rain to contend with. Despite the conditions, Dan, not the youngest of players and also with a middle handicap of 10, held his game together to add another 34 points to his card. This gave him a comfortable 2 point win from the second best, Iain MacCuaig from Bowmore. Third in line was Gordon Hyslop who had travelled from Kilmacolm to represent the mainland members

The story does not end there. As a result of the previous publicity of the Quaich's return to Islay and particularly the article in the 'Scottish Golfer', the great grand-daughter of P J Mackie, Mrs Sheila Kerr contacted the club secretary from her home near Beauly in Inverness-shire. Suffice to say, Sheila, her husband Ron and 12 year-old daughter Mhairi visited Islay for the weekend. Sheila retied the family connections by presenting Dan with the trophy for the first time. ( It has been decided that however successful Dan is in the future, the trophy will remain with Islay Golf Club for the next hundred years. Sorry Dan !)

A delightful postscript to the Quaich story was the presentation by Mhairi, the great, great grand-daughter of Sir Peter Jeffrey Mackie, presenting the Club with a silver cup suitably inscribed showing the family ties with one of the club's founder members.

Ladies Plan of Action    

The Ladies Golf Club held a committee meeting on Saturday 30 November to plan the fixture list for next year. A full season of competition and fun events is planned starting on January 2nd. That day it is hoped to have a ?Bring a Prize-Win a Prize@ competition which will be open to ladies and gentlemen. It is hoped to have a large turnout of golfers to continue the New Year celebrations.

Other dates for mixed competitions are

March 29 Robert Brown Trophy

May 26 Feis Ile Texas Scramble

August 9/10 Soutter Trophy

An open day will be held on March 22nd at 1pm in a bid to encourage more new members to come along and join the club.

Ken Campbell the Macrahanish professional will be invited to visit Islay and provide golf tuition on April 26th.

It was also confirmed that after the success of last years Cross Week barbecue this year=s event will be held on August 6th.


The' Chronicle' is selling particularly well but there are plenty more copies available as a Christmas stocking filler. The price to members is ,10 plus ,1 postage. Give me a ring if you want a further copy . At the same time I would ask that all members who have not yet paid for their copy would do so to aid the cash flow situation.

Good reading at Christmas! "Excerpt from Bookcollectors Bulletin"

CLUB HISTORIES with The Editor

Say 'Islay" to any intelligent, discerning, thinking man and a knowing smile will cross his face as he murmurs "Bowmore, Bruichcladdich, Bunnahabhain, Lagavulin, Laphraoig." Say "Islay" to any intelligent, discerning, thinking golfer and the same smile will appear but this time he will murmur

"Machrie, Whisky and Golf are never far apart as The Chronicle of the Islay Golf Club and the Machrie Links, written by one of our new members, John Cubbage, so interestingly explains. Founded in 1891, the 18 holes on superb linksland form one of the most westerly golf courses in UK. It is also another of the great golf courses which, had it not been off the beaten track, would have received much more prominence. But how could Islay, with a total population less than many small towns, support such a course -and, for a period, a further two? Like the Isle of Arran, Islay was a popular holiday resort for the better-off Glaswegian families and both islands had to provide diversions for the holiday-makers, hence the establishment of golf courses. This connection continues today when a number of members live off the island.

In hard back, with a dust cover, the book is an enjoyable read and, for the club collectors, recounts the fascinating story of Ronald MacArthur, clubmaker extraordinaire. It has 180 pages with many illustrations including 8 in colour and is obtainable from Secretary, Mr Tom Dunn (a golfing name to be conjured with if ever there was), Western Cottage, Port Ellen, Isle of Islay, Argyllshire PA42 7AT.at ,15 inc P&P.

The photograph (c.1892) shown overleaf, reprinted by kind permission of the National Museums of Scotland, suggests the holidaymakers might rather be home in Glasgow! However, it does reveal one interesting talking-point The young caddies are carrying the clubs in bags and since the first patent was only taken out in 1890(?), these must be very early examples.


After several years the Ladies section held their presentation of prizes and dance on 9th November 1996.

About 50 members gathered at Machrie to honour the winners. A dinner prepared by Alan Bell started the proceedings before Harold, husband of Lady Captain Margaret Hastie presented the prizes. Dianne Brown received not only the Champions Trophy but several others and Harold enjoyed the appreciation of the other successful ladies.

The Islay Ceilidh Band provided the tempo for the evening. Following this success the mens section intend to have a similar evening in 1997 with only the Cross week trophies being presented in August.



Bruce Critchley and his film unit were at Machrie last October. Sky are planning a 26 half hour series on world golf courses and their local environment.

The first day was spent at Laphraoig Distillery filming the whisky process and the second day was spent in glorious sunshine filming Port Ellen and Machrie Links, with emphasis on individual holes.

Interviews with MJ King and the Secretary are included, the series will be shown probably in 1998.


I would like to wish each and every member a very happy Christmas, a prosperous New Year and may all your putts drop in 1997.

This year will be remembered as the year in which the Machrie was given a new lease of life by Malcolm King and I know I echo all your thoughts by wishing him and his team every success in the future. His investment has been considerable and already we have seen the enormous improvements in the Hotel, Cottages and the driveway and with regards to the Golf Course it is very pleasing to note that John Souter has been appointed to advise and liaise with Malcolm on Golf Course and Greenkeeping matters, I know we will all benefit enormously as a result of his involvement and we can look forward to even more enjoyable rounds over the Machrie Links in the future.

As the year speeds to a close I'd like to thank Tom Dunn for all the work he puts into running the club so smoothly and to Ralph for so efficiently organizing the Competitions, for a club to be run, well it needs tireless efforts - often unseen, - on behalf of the members and we are very fortunate in having such support from Tom and Ralph.

1996 will also be remembered as "the year of the Book" - a fascinating account of the club from its inception, it certainly brought back a few memories to me!. A very nice write up has appeared in the Golf Collectors Society publication "Through the Green", I was also very pleased, indeed proud to see "The Chronicle" on Bob Grants stand at the Golf Industry Exhibition - it is certainly attracting a lot of attention in the Golfing World. Sincere thanks again to John Cubbage.

My thanks to Anthony and all the staff at Machrie for making our visits so enjoyable - to the members of Committee for their interest and involvement, the Green staff for all their hard work and to you the members for all your support - and remember that when New Year comes it brings 365 days of opportunity!!

All the very best

Tim Morrison Captain