Reaching this remote course, set above the wild and rugged Atlantic ocean on the very edge of Ireland, is almost as dramatic as the course itself. A single-lane track, with minimal passing points, is used for the last several miles of your journey to reach this unbelievably beautiful and unspoilt part of the country.
For those familiar with Durness in the Highlands of Scotland there are strong similarities although I think Cruit just pips it. The view and setting of the links itself leaves you speechless.
The driveway through the course, where you must beep your horn to warn out-of-sight golfers about your presence, gives you a glimpse of the undulating course but the real magical stuff is hidden from view and saved for later.
I must admit when I arrived at this outpost I wasn’t expecting much activity. If I had been the only soul there, with an honesty box to deposit my green-fee in, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised but to my astonishment the clubhouse was busy and there were plenty of golfers on the course. Indeed a 5-ball was just heading out as I parked up!
Not that it is about the golf holes the best I can describe them in short would be something like; the 1st is ‘up and over’, the 2nd is ‘down and up’, the 3rd is ‘over and down’, the 4th is ‘up and then up a bit more’, the 5th is ‘over then falling right’, the 6th is ‘over the sea’, the 7th is ‘ epic along the coast’, the 8th is ‘ho-hum’ and the 9th is ‘blind then hopefully over’.
That clearly doesn’t do each one justice and whilst each hole may not be out of the top bracket the experience of playing here certainly is. It’s the sort of course where you just need to grab a small carry bag, throw in half-a-dozen clubs, a couple of balls (maybe a few more to be on the safe side) and just go out there and have a blast.
The first four holes have much interest amongst large rolling dunes – I was particularly fond of the 2nd – but the real fun comes at the 5th, 6th and 7th where we are closest to the dramatic coastline of the crashing sea and mesmerising rock formations. I said the 8th was ho-hum and it is certainly plainer than the others but the putting surface saves it from being mundane.
At 5, 6 and 7 we have a glorious infinity green, then the most audacious short-hole across the ocean from one rocky outlet to a green on another peninsula some 150-yards away and then we play right alongside the cliffs. Cruit Island is all spirit with no mixer.
But as wondrous as the holes are it is the setting and beauty of the location which makes Cruit Island so special.
The condition of the course was good, particularly the greens. If anything they were too good; I almost hoped for a more rugged experience but the putting surfaces were exceptionally green and true. For the record par is 68 and the meterage is 5,151 from the men’s tees.
By my own admission Cruit (pronounced “Cruch” as advised by a local caddy at Rosapenna the day before) isn’t really a reviewable golf course, it’s certainly not rankable! It’s one of those special places where all that sort of irrelevant stuff becomes immaterial. But hopefully I have painted a good enough picture for you to want to go and visit and experience it for yourself. You should... and that is all that really matters.
The Dunskey course at Portpatrick is one of the most fun and enjoyable I have played in Scotland.
Not many people know but there is also a third course at Turnberry and this is the nine hole Arran course.