I played this short 18 hole heathland course on 27 September 2012. Millport Golf Club lies just outside the main settlement on Great Cumbrae, an island off the North Ayrshire coast and was founded in 1888 by a group of Glasgow-based golfers wishing to have somewhere to play during their Summer holidays. Cumbrae remains a popular holiday destination, particularly for day-trippers and I remember being taken there as a very young boy. I'd a vague memory of a large painted rock shaped like a crocodile on the beach at Millport and sure enough it's still there, freshly painted. The Millport course is 5349 Yards Par 67 off the Yellow tees and reminded me of Skelmorlie, Largs Routenburn and some of the other courses that border the Clyde estuary. Holes 1-4 and 16-18 are relatively flat and low-lying with the remaining holes running up, down and across a hillier section of the course, offering great views over the Firth of Clyde, Bute, Arran and the Cowal Peninsula. One benefit of the layout is that you can see the rain coming and after the worst September storm in 30 years had battered the east of the country, the morning of 27 September appeared to offer the prospect of dry golf until the next rain arrived. Sure enough, I got round in a little over 2 hours, just before the next rain started (and I pretty much had the course to myself apart from the 2 friendly members who had let me play through on the 4th.)
With the course having no Par 5s and only 2 Par 4's over 400 yards, scoring at Millport is relatively easy if you get your drives away and keep the ball out of a few streams and areas of whin and gorse. The front 9 is particularly short at only 2523 Yards and I was out in 37 without feeling I was playing particularly well. Even the odd poor shot, such as a fluffed chip on the 288 Yard Par 4 9th wasn't punished as I holed a decent single putt for my 6th successive par on the front 9. That run of pars also continued on Holes 10-12, so 9 successive pars was encouraging. However, the 12th at Millport is a pretty difficult hole. This is a steeply downhill 150 Yard Par 3, with the red flag just visible in the centre of this photo. Your tee shot is fully exposed to the elements and although the wind was pretty light from the left of the tee, it was easy to imagine that this could be a hugely difficult hole on a windy day.
I also liked the 15th, a steeply downhill 394 Yard Par 4 played directly into the prevailing westerly wind with the dramatic Arran skyline in the background, as shown below. I hit a good drive and a 23 Degree Rescue to just short of the green and a couple of putts from there was good enough for another par.
The last hole at Millport is a flat 299 Yard Par 4 with a stream running diagonally across the fairway just to add some difficulty to the tee shot. I only just missed this hazard, as shown here, but a good pitch and a couple of putts ensured an easy par. I'd gone round in 74 gross, net 63, or net 3 under par, with 29 putts. Millport is an easy enough course from the yellow tees if you catch it on a calm day and play reasonably well. However, I guess it would be a far more difficult proposition on a windy day from the white Medal tees (that add nearly 500 yards to the course). There's a good ferry service to Cumbrae from Largs and it should be well worth the effort to make the trip to play this excellent little course.