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Machrihanish is a small village on the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula, Argyll and Bute, and lies to the south of Machrihanish Bay, and 5 miles (8 km) west of Campbeltown on the east coast of the peninsula.

The two were once linked by the Campbeltown and Machrihanish Light Railway, which closed in 1932. Together with Campbeltown Airport, tourism and golf provide a significant contribution to the local economy of the area. Machrihanish Golf Club is a championship course, and has been voted Best first hole in the world, and comes highly recommended from all golfers who have played there.

The area surrounding the village itself is generally referred to by the media, and others, as Machrihanish. The real object of their attentions is actually the airfield to the north east, formerly RAF Machrihanish, now MoD Machrihanish since the United States Navy handed it back in 1995 following the end of its service as a NATO facility.

Once the area had been released, the development opportunities were slow to be exploited, but by the mid-2000s developers had started to exploit the area and its isolation, bringing housing and accommodation to the area that will be far above the budget of the local population - who will presumably be expected to provided service staff - and more appropriate to the income levels of those who can afford to commute to and from their new acquisitions, and rustic golf course, using the facilities of the nearby airport.

Golf course development

Machrihanish hotel development, 2007
Machrihanish hotel development
© Oliver Dixon

On February 23, 2005, The Scotsman carried an article regarding a proposed golf resort development under the title Hoon could bunker £30m golf resort set for site next to air base.

Then Defence Minister, Geoff Hoon, (who left the post in May, 2005), would automatically have been referred to in the event that any development was approved in the land surrounding the airfield. An Australian developer had used the media to accuse the MoD of hypocrisy, claiming it had pulled out of the area (as noted elsewhere, it was actually NATO and the US Navy that had handed the base back to MoD ten years earlier), causing a decade of hardship, and the population to drop by 4,000 down to only 6,000. (No source of the figures was cited). He stated the resort would generate 250 jobs, and £18 million for the local economy with a championship course, 32 timeshare homes in the £700,000 price range and a five-star hotel.

Australian millionaire Brian Keating claimed his resort would regenerate the area, bringing American millionaires in private jets which could land next to the resort, and had the support of local MP, George Lyon.

With little apparent publicity, approval for the resort scheme was not opposed by the MoD toward the end of 2006, who appeared to supportive of plans to bring development into the areas surrounding the airfield, although there appears to little mention of this in publicity arising from Brian Keating.

In May 2007, The Boston Globe carried an item that described the approval of the plans to develop a new golf course and resort called Machrihanish Dunes, noting that construction had already started on the site some weeks earlier, in April. There was little detail of the actual development itself, with the article serving more as a publicity opportunity to name drop those involved in the project. Later announcements, and the appearance of a web site for Machrihanish Dunes, indicated that the development would be open for business during 2008.

Machrihanish Dunes opens July 2009

The opening of the Machrihanish Dunes course was carried by The Herald online issue of July 22, 2009, when it proclaimed First New Links Course In A Century Opens.[1]. Unfortunately, its headline is not quite correct, as a course opened in Dundonald in 2003, on the former site of RAF Fullerton/Gailes.[2]


1 First New Links Course In A Century Opens (from The Herald), July 22, 2009.

2 Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design

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Aerial views



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