A golf course on a small Scottish island claims to be the home of the longest hole in the UK.
record was believed to be held by a par six at West Midlands Golf Club in Barston, Solihull, measuring 725 yards (2,175ft).
Now, however, the Orkney island of Westray has come forward with a par six at a hefty 738 yards (2,214ft).
Westray’s long hole was created during a redesign of the course a few years, ago merging two par four holes in to one.
Until now however it has more or less gone under the radar with no extensive attempts to publicise it.
There are plans to change that after the coronavirus pandemic with the message from the club to come to Westray and “take the world’s shortest flight and play the UK’s longest hole”.
This is because Westray already has a claim to a record at the other end of the scale – the shortest scheduled flight in the world.
The 1.7 mile leg between Westray and Papa Westray should take two minutes, but can be done in 47 seconds if the wind helps.
Westray has a population of just under 600.
Two greenkeepers are employed to maintain the nine-hole course which is on the outskirts of the village of Pierowall.
Bill Turnbull – who is one of the greenkeepers and has just stepped down from a five-year stint as men’s captain – said it is a challenge for both visitors and local players.
“It can be parred, it can be birdied. There are a couple of members who have birdied it. On a windy day a bogey is a good score.
“A wee golf ball just gets affected by the wind, even on the green the ball will sit and move a wee bit in the wind.
“It’s just about trying to get people to come here and play the long hole. It is a great facility for the island.”
The club is hoping to get funding so it can build a clubhouse in the near future.
Digital editor of the golf magazine Bunkered, Michael McEwan, explained why some holes elsewhere in the world are so long.
“The reason for the holes being the length that they are is generally down to the altitude that they are at.
“Because they are higher up, certainly in Colorado for instance, the air is a lot thinner so the ball would travel further through it, so the number on the scorecard isn’t necessarily a reflection of what that hole would play like yard-for-yard.
“So an 800-yard hole in Colorado might really be something around about 600 yards at sea level.
“That is what makes Westray particularly interesting, that it’s 738 yards I gather right beside the beach – it is exposed.”
Zig-zagging down the fairway
I’m not a golfer so taking on potentially one of the longest holes in the world maybe wasn’t the best place to start.
I enlist the help of one of Orkney’s top players Michael Schinkel. He reckons if I can ‘keep it straight’ I’ll be fine.
That proves to be a problem when my drive ends up in the long grass. By the time I get out my chances of a par are well gone. After I zig-zag my way down the fairway, the tee having long disappeared, I two-putt to keep my score somewhere under 30 I reckon.
Meanwhile Michael hits three shots, takes out his iron for two, and putts to par the hole. Not bad for a first attempt.
Oh and when you’ve finished, there’s a giant mound to get over just 100 yards from the tee on the par five fifth hole which is arguably just as difficult.