golf stories

Camping & Golfing with Dad

Travel notes by Emil Weber @thebackinggolfer

In the heart of the Western Scottish Islands, where the rugged beauty of the landscape meets the allure of untamed golfing greens, Emil Weber, known to many as "The Backpacking Golfer," recently embarked on a journey of a different sort. He had traversed these Scottish landscapes countless times before, a trusty backpack in tow, forging a unique connection with Scotland's wild terrain while indulging his passion for the game.

Yet, this expedition held a distinct charm – it was a journey taken in the company of his father, a man who had never set foot on Scottish soil. It had been a trip planned for some time; the summer arrived, and both were eager to immerse themselves in the enchanting tapestry of the remarkable islands of the West Coast of Scotland.

A splendid itinerary was crafted for his Dad’s first-ever experience of the Scottish links, weaving together the finest threads of golf and nature. The plan was simple but enticing: golf on the pristine links of the Western Scottish Isles while embracing the elemental thrill of camping amidst nature's embrace. A symphony of pure links golfing and the raw, untamed beauty of the islands awaited them.

Together, they explored the soul-stirring landscapes, the purity of links golf, and forged unforgettable memories.

Emil Weber shares his photography and travel notes from their Western Scottish Island Adventures – a tale of golf, camping, and a bond between father and son, etched against the backdrop of Scotland's untamed beauty.

55.4937° N, 4.6205° W


Opening the trip before my dad arrived, I had a wonderful day at Prestwick St. Nicholas with my host Murray Bothwell, who'd written an article on my backpacking trip around Scotland the year before in The Links Diary. This is classic, traditional Scottish links golf at its best, and the course was in pristine condition – one of many perfect golfing days to come on this trip.

55.6632° N, 5.1624° W


Both my dad and I learned to play golf on a short, hilly 9-hole course, so from what I'd heard and seen of Corrie, I thought it might just be the perfect start to ease my dad into his first-ever golf trip to Scotland. Corrie is tons of fun, and the scenery between Arran's highest peaks and the Firth of Clyde is one of a kind. We were pretty much alone that afternoon – it makes playing all the crossover holes a lot more relaxed. On a sunny day, you may also need refreshment after arriving at the top of the hill at the 7th tee – luckily, the water tap also serves as a little cold shower!

55.5044° N, 5.3402° W


The next day, we made our way over to the other side of the island to Shiskine, a course I've anticipated playing for a long time. The course is full of high-quality holes and presents more variety within its 12 holes than most other courses in a lifetime. The views are breathtaking, the weather was perfect, and the golf was some of our best on the trip. Looking back on this day, it almost seems surreal – in all the best ways.

Though we'd never done it together much, camping and the outdoors are a mutual passion for my dad and me. I just have to give him credit for sleeping in a tent for 6 nights in a row at age 67 and with a history of back problems. We also found great campsites in Lochranza on Arran and next to Machrihanish. Falling asleep and waking up to the sounds and rhythm of nature just feels different!

55.5901° N, 5.4681° W


Carradale was another course I'd never seen before, and it was a perfect breather for our journey from Arran to Machrihanish. Don't be fooled, though; approaching Carradale's crowned greens requires a great deal of concentration. The scenery here is amazing, and almost unexpectedly, the few clouds on this day made for a welcome change in light and mood for the photography.

55.4231° N, 5.7311° W


Before our evening round at Machrihanish, we warmed up on the charming 9-hole Pans course, which was a very pleasant surprise and the perfect prelude to the Championship course. I had played the latter a couple of years ago in the most horrific weather I've ever played golf in, so I was more than excited to play it again in perfect weather and condition. There is not much to say about this round; it was as good as links golf could ever get. One of the best golfing days of my life – apart from my camera breaking down on the 5th hole and having to use my iPhone from there on.

55.3126° N, 5.6455° W


Also on my list of courses that I've wanted to see for a long time was Dunaverty. It was our only full 36-hole day of the trip, and what a day it was once again. The beauty of Dunaverty's location in its secluded part of the coastline on the southern tip of Kintyre is difficult to convey through photos. With its shorter holes, more receptive greens, and overall focus on fun, Dunaverty ended up being my dad's favourite course of the trip. At times, I was just so sad that I couldn't get the photos I would have wanted to capture with my camera – but that won't dim my memory of another perfect day on the links and an unforgettable, probably once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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