Iona Golf Course is maintained by sheep and costs £1. It’s the best course you’ve never heard of
The internet has truly taken an axe to the term “hidden gem,” as almost every course worth discovering has been found, photographed and droned. But! For those brave adventurous golfers who are willing to not only go off the edge of the path, but off the edge of the planet, I introduce Iona Golf Course.
Let’s break down some of the details of this most hidden of gems:
Greens fee: £1 (for the scorecard)
Water hazards: None
Green speed: 2
While some might look at those figures and scoff, I can assure you that a game at Iona is as close to pure golf as one can get. Situated on the very, very, very small island of Iona (off the Isle of Mull, Scotland), one must take two ferries to arrive there, and, if you time it right, can pick up your scorecard from the local post office. Without it, there’s no chance you’ll be able to find the next hole. Then, it’s a 30-minute walk across the island on a dirt path before you crest a hill and see the beautiful Iona Golf Course.
Situated directly on the sea, Iona plays in between, over and through grazing land. (The paddock fencing for the animals is wonderfully strategic on a few holes.)
So what makes Iona so special? In addition to the idyllic and uninterrupted views of the sea and natural rock formations, it also has some truly wonderful golf holes. The par-3 3rd might be the best par-3 in Scotland. And the 11th is a fantastically strategic par-4 where the closer one plays to the animal walking path (and thus risking a bad lie) the better the angle to the pin. I don’t say green because it’s all one height of grass. If you prefer your golf a bit more manicured, I suggest you take it up with one of the cows who may or may not move off the tee box for you.
To go around Iona is an adventure. An adventure to get there, and an adventure to play. There are no yardages, and you’re more likely to play to a wrong pin than the right one. But walking among the sheep, with the sun shining from high above, sparkling off the light blue sea, you suddenly are overcome with a feeling of how good it is to be alive. And what more can you ask of a golf course? So take the journey. No rules, no problems. Play as you like, and remember that golf is meant to be fun.