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Kirkapol and Vaul Golf Club, Tiree. (1890s – WW2)

Prior to WW2 there were three golf courses on Tiree; Kirkapol and Vaul; Scarinish and Heanish and Cornaig. All three courses closed at the time of WW2.

The Vaul Golf Club was revived in 1962.

Below are reports on early Tiree golf courses and the history of Kirkapol and Vaul to its closure at the time of WW2.

Report on a course at Sandaig/Barrapoll in September 1897.


Tiree Golf Course, Argyll and Bute. Report on the Barrapoll (Cornaig) course September 1897.

Oban Times and Argyllshire Advertiser Saturday 18 September 1897. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Mention of Golf at Tiree in 1897 from the Dundee Advertiser Friday 24 September 1897. “Lord Archibald Campbell writes in praise of the Tiree golf ourse. Neither St Andrews, nor Macrihanish (sic), Campbeltown, can, he says, boast of links to those of Tiree, “and perhaps I may be able to judge, as an old St Andrews student, and one who has played also at Macrihanish”. 

Further report on the course at Sandaig/Barrapoll in 1897.


Tiree Golf Course, Argyll and Bute. Report on the Barrapoll (Cornaig) course October 1897.

Oban Times and Argyllshire Advertiser Saturday 2 October 1897. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Ordnance Survey Map from the 1890/1900s showing Sanndig and Barrapoll.


Tiree Golf Course, Argyll and Bute. O.S. Map from 1890/1900s shwing Barrapol.

O.S. Map Revised 1898; © Crown Copyright {year of publication 1900}.


From the Oban Times and Argyllshire Advertiser Saturday 23 July 1898; "A GOLF COURSE FOR TIREE - Our Tiree correspondent writes - A very fine golf course has recently been laid out by the Tiree Golf Club at Balinoe. Since it was opened, a great number of players have taken the advantage of it, and all agree in saying that it was one of the finest in Scotland. The course has already attracted several visitors to the island, and if its excellence becomes better known, no doubt Tiree will soon become one of the most attractive of summer resorts. Its bathing and fishing are unequalled anywhere. The new club which has lately been formed has already a numerous membership, who are quite enthusiastic over the new course so recently laid out. It is a pity that so beautiful an island, which possesses so many attractions for holiday-makers, is placed at such a disadvantage through the want of a pier and better steamer communications with Oban. It is to be hoped that every effort will now be made to get these matters remedied. It is certain that no other place of such traffic and importance is left out in the cold as is the case with Tiree."

Ordnance Survey Map from 1890/1900s showing Balinoe.


Tiree Golf Course, Argyll and Bute. O.S. Map from 1890/1900s showing Balinoe.

O.S. Map Revised 1898; © Crown Copyright {year of publication 1900}.


In 1910 the Kirkapol and Vaul Golf Club laid out an eighteen-hole course of over 6,000 yards.  Professional James Hobbins assisted with the laying out of the course.  

A guided tour of the Kirkapol and Vaul course. Report from the Oban Times and Argyllshire Advertiser Saturday 29 October 1910 – “TIREE AND ITS GOLFING FACILITIES – A NEW COURSE – It is well known that the late Duke of Argyll characterised the island of Tiree as an island of golf courses, and never was a statement more true. In all parts of the island there are stretches of turf intersected with bunkers of a kind dear to the golfer, but possibly the one of all others which has the greatest variety of hazards is that situated at the east end of the island, and lying with the two townships of Kirkapol and Vaul. Although golf in days gone by was played occasionally by the natives, it was only in a haphazard sort of way; shinty and other more exciting forms of sport claimed the attention of their spare time. However during the last year or so, a change has taken place, and the natives, knowing the undoubted and almost unrivalled natural advantages they possess, are anxious to attract golfers to their island, with the result that the Kirkapol golf course and club have been inaugurated. To describe a golf course in such a manner as to give the reader an accurate idea of it is a very difficult task, and one that the present writer does not feel himself capable of, but the following description may serve to show that the island has resources second to none.

At the first hole the golfer has to drive in the direction of the sea – a long, straight ball to carry the burn, and then it is an easy pitch on to the green; but if he should not attempt the carry, which short drivers would not, he his faced with a very difficult iron shot, so that if he gets a four he has done very well. Teeing up for the second, he has to play along the shore, so that slicing is penalised, and he dare not top the shot, otherwise he will land in the burn; but a straight drive suffers no penalty, and enables the player to carry the ditch with his second when, with a good iron shot, he reaches the green. Five is very good for this hole, as it is close on 500 yards long.

At the third tee the golfers turns his back to the sea, and begins to make the acquaintance of what an American term real live bunkers, as man has nothing to do with them; nature having gratuitously looked after this – rather a characteristic of Tiree golf courses. Supposing he has driven a good ball, he finds himself left with a good iron shot of about 130 yards into a cup shaped green, where he can get his par four. If he slices or pulls his second, he may take anything, for it is a most treacherous place, and some players, in playing out of the bunkers which completely surrounds the green, could be excused if they indulged in “profane silence.” The fourth hole is called “Cross-cuts,” for there are a number of parallel bunkers running right along the path. It is a very trick hole, but a good pitch gives one the par three. To be over the green here is like having to play from the foot of the Himalayas at Prestwick, and land on to the green, with this difference, that it is surrounded with deep bunkers on three sides, and a cart track on the other. Hence accuracy here is of supreme importance.   

On driving off at the next tee, the golfer must be accurate and long, too, if the hole is to be done in five, as it is more than a quarter of a mile long. A slice is badly bunkered, and a pulled shot lands the ball over the fence into a potato field, which is out of bounds. The peculiar features of this hole caused it to be called by the blasphemous the “Narrow Way,” as divergence from the straight path led to the destruction of many a fine score. It is a good hole, as accuracy and care are rewarded, wild sweeping and careless play being severely punished.

The sixth hole called “Perfection,”demands a long straight drive, followed with an equally good second with a brassie, if the green is to be reached in two strokes. It is not unlike its namesake in North Berwick, but with this difference, that there are two deep chasms running parallel with the centre line, about 70 yards apart, these four bunkers guarding the road to the green on either side for a distance of 100 yards. There is also a frontal bunker guarding the green, and to be over one runs on to the shore, hence the second shot must be a perfect one. It is more difficult than the second shot on the North Berwick course.

In the distance, and far out at sea, no less than eight well know islands may be seen, Bara, South Uist, Rhum, Skye, Eigg Muck, Mull, Iona, Colonsay, so that the view is really magnificent on a fine day, and with a north wind blowing strongly, the bay itself is a splendid sight, rivalling what is to be seen on the Pacific coast. We are now on the Vaul side of the island, and turning somewhat round towards Ruaig direction we have the seventh tee to carry a gully at least 140 yards wide when, with a pitch, we can reach the green. It is called “The Gully” after its principal features, and is about 230 yards long. The eighth hole is called “Mount Ararat,” and the Ark must have got moored in an earlier fashion than the average ball on the green. This hole demands a perfect tee shot of at least 180 yards (otherwise the frontal bunkers get you) on to a bit of turf 50 yards wide by 90 long, and then you pitch on to the top of “Mount Ararat,” which is nothing else than an isolated turf-capped mountain of sand, standing about forty feet above you. It is really an exceptional hole, and though blessed with a biblical name, the same cannot be said of the atmosphere in the neighbourhood when golfers are about. The “triumvirate” would find it interesting work to get this in four, and, seriously speaking, it partakes the nature of a freak hole, and to the average player it is difficult enough to place the hole on the level, leaving the mount out.

At the ninth hole the player has a long carry over a high ridge of bunkers, a hard it brassie for a second, when he can pitch on to the green and get his par five, the hole is some 500 yards long. This hole is not unlike the famous Cardinal at Prestwick, and certainly not inferior in natural difficulties. The long driver can let out for all he his worth with no danger of running into any bunkers, provided he keep straight, and might fetch the green with his second, as there is a lot of run on the ball, the turf being good.

 At the turn the driver faces the direction of Ruaig, and two good shots fetch the green, but the second one must be accurate, as the green is on a long, narrow projecting bit of ground, with bunkers on either side. The eleventh hole is a short one of 140 yards, and while not as difficult as the fourth presents similar obstacles.

The twelfth hole, called the Andes, owing to the player having to carry over with his second a very high bunker, is another very fine hole. The drawback to it is this; the player cannot possibly carry the bunker unless he can hit like Braid with a following wind helping him at the same time, so he must play short on to a desert-like plain called by the late Lady Victoria Campbell the Sahara. Here the turf is rather poor in some places, and to carry the Andes from a poor lie is a sheer impossibility. It is a rattling good stroke from an ordinary lie, and to get this hole in par four represents sterling golf. A little turfing is all that is necessary to make this hole the delight of good golfers.

At the thirteenth the long drive scores, for the green is some 220 yards off, and going straight over the wild bunkers give him his reward. Once over he runs down on to the green near the shore, and can quite well get his three against the par 4 of his opponent, who played short for safety. The golfer now faces inland for the next green, and with a good drive and a neat pitch can reach the green. The pitch must be a good one, for the green is well protected with bunkers, and there is a fence on the far side.

The fifteenth necessitates care in driving as you have to carry over some soft mossy ground. It is possibly the easiest hole on the course, although if one is over the green there is burn running along the edge of the shore to catch the ball and make one more careful next time.

The sixteenth is a good iron shot, and although the hole is called "Simple Simon,” it is not so simple as its name would imply. To be over the green means the ditch, and to the left the shore. At the seventeenth, the player must hit a long ball if he is going to carry the burn with his second, and the latter shot must be long, straight, and true if the green is to be reached in two strokes. Pulling is badly penalised, as the ball finds the shore, and slicing adds enormously to the carry on the second shot on account of the way the burn bends, so that straightness from the tee settles the point whether the player can carry the burn with his second or not. The home hole means two good long wooden club shots, followed with an iron pitch. You must carry the burn from the tee and the soft, marshy bit of ground with your second.

In general it may be said with confidence that the course, when the greens are brought up to the state of perfection of well-known courses, it will hold its own with any of them, and be a long way superior to the majority. It resembles Machrihanishin in the wildness of its bunkers, the turf is quite as good, and is free from rabbit scrapes, for there are no rabbits on the island. At present to anyone keen on golf, and who does not expect putting greens smooth as billiard tables, but still quite playable, there is no better place to play golf.

In the first place, you have no crowds on the course, and hence the ordinary golfer can be assured of plenty of time for his different strokes, and secondly, there is every possible and conceivable variety of shot if a good score is to be made. The climate is very good, and only one requiring a golfing holiday “far from the maddening crowd,” and who prefers living in a cottage in preference to a hotel, cannot do better than come to Kirkapol and Vaul Golf Course, where he can be certain of enjoying himself thoroughly. If the golfer is fond of fly fishing at sea so much the better, for he can get good sport in either Gott or Vaul bay, and a good salmon rod should be part of his kit.

There are several good boarding houses in the neighbourhood of the golf course, in which visitors can be made most comfortable in every way. There are also several cottages, which can be rented for the season, and for particulars of these intending visitors should apply to the secretary, the well-known Mr M Maclean, who is a keen golfer, or to any member of the committee.

Below are the approximate hole lengths (some unclear), and it will be seen that the total length is not far short of 6,000 yards. The par figure is 75; 38 out and 37 home. Any number of caddies can be obtained."

Hole Name  Length Par Hole Name Length Par
1 Burn  280 4 10  Hades 390 5
Beecher's Brook 500 5 11 The Jump 140 3
3 Cup 3?? 4 12 Andes 330 4
4 Cross Cuts 130 3 13 Ideal 220 4
5 Narrow Way 490 5 14 Fence 300 4
6 Perfection 390 4 15 Iris 290 4
7 Gully 2?? 4 16 Simple Simon 100 3
8 Mount Ararat 270 4 17 Lodge 410 5
9 Waterloo 500 5 18 Home 490 5


Kirkapol and Vaul Golf Club, Tiree. Postcard showing the Kirkapol course.


Mention of a "short course" in December 1910. 


Kirkapol and Vaul Golf Club, Tiree. Competition played over the short course in 1910..

Oban Times and Argyllshire Advertiser Saturday 17 December 1910. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


From the Oban Times Saturday 25 March 1911 - "A competition took place on Saturday last on the Kirkapol and Vaul Course, when the first prize was won by Neil Macdougall, and second prize by Lachlan Macdougall. On Thursday aftrnooon last week Mr Ridley, a professional golfer, showed some wonderfully fine play over the links."

Result of a match against Heanish in February 1912.


Kirkapol and Vaul Golf Club, Tiree. Result of a match played in February 1912.

Oban Times and Argyllshire Advertiser Saturday 24 February 1912. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Match played in July 1913.


Kirkapol and Vaul Golf Club, Tiree. Result of a match played in July 1913.

Oban Times and Argyllshire Advertiser Saturday 26 July 1913. Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Throughout the 1920/30s the club was listed in the Golfer’s Handbook; Secretary, M Mclean; 18-holes; Visitors, 5 shillings a week.

Oban Times Saturday 20 August 1938 - "During the first fortnight of August golf competitions were arranged on the Vaul course, as a result of which Robert Law , Cleish, Kinross, visitor at Tigh-Beg, Vaul, who was the organiser, handed over £4 to the Tiree Nursing Association."