This is an 18 Hole links course in the village of Southend, which as the name suggests is at the bottom of the Kintyre peninsula. Miss it and you'll likely drown in the North Channel between Scotland and Northern Ireland. I played here on 25 June 2013 after my rounds the previous day at Corrie, Lochranza and Carradale, so I wasn't at my freshest golf-wise. Indeed, I was pretty tired and I'd 36 holes to play that day. So, I was pretty pleased to see that Dunaverty was a mere 4577 Yards, Par 66 off the Yellow Tees. However, it was a warm and very humid day and as the round went on I realised that parts of Dunaverty were far more hilly than I'd expected. Dunaverty looks pretty short, but when you're tired before you start, it's long enough. Chances are by the time you get this far on a Scottish golfing trip you'll have squeezed quite a few rounds in, so don't go thinking that because the course is well under 5000 Yards it's going to be easy. Dunaverty is a super little course, but it's far from easy.
The first 4 holes and the 18th lie on the right side of a river that splits the course into 2 sections. These 5 holes are all pretty short and relatively easy, the main features being electrified fences to keep the cattle off the greens. Take care when crossing and use the sections covered by rubber tubing, or risk a nasty shock. This is a view of the 4th green, completely hidden from view by a sand dune when you play that 162 Yard Par 3. The greens at Dunaverty are among the very best I've seen anywhere this year. A few bare patches still be treated after winter damage but otherwise almost perfect, fast and true running.
The second part of the course, and from 5 to 13 in particular, is generally a lot tighter, with an ample supply of gorse, heather, steep hills, blind shots, sloping lies, narrow fairways and unpredictable bounces to content with. Holes 14-17 are more open but still more challenging in their own ways than the earlier sections. For example, this is the view from the 5th Tee. It's only an 80 or so yard carry over the river and this steeply uphill hole is only 248 Yards overall, but with OOB to the right the wide fairway doesn't look so easily hit. I was delighted to get a par after a good drive and a short pitch to the green.
This is the view from the 8th Tee. You might, like me, want to walk forward to have a look at the fairway, as you certainly don't see any of it from the tee. This is the Stroke Index 2 hole and at 372 Yards is slightly uphill with a late dog leg to the left towards the end of the fairway. My bogey was decent enough in the circumstances. From there, the 9th and 10th take you steeply uphill again. The 9th is only 248 Yards, but it plays far longer. Hit your ball past the marker pole and it'll run the rest of the way steeply downhill to the green. Fail to hit it past the marker and you'll have a completely blind shot. The Par 3 10th is only 120 Yards, but is the steepest of the many climbs, so be sure to take enough club. Leave your bag by the tee and take your wedge, putter and driver. By the time you've finished the 10th you'll probably be ready for something downhill and sure enough, the 11th is just that. However, the tee is a another short climb above the 10th green. As shown here, the 11th is a West-facing 252 Yard Par 4, with a huge drop to the fairway. I played it on a flat calm day, but this must be a really tough shot in the kind of gales that can blow and usually from the West!
I finished 30 yards short of the green with my 3 Wood and fiddled my way to a tired bogey. The rest of the course looked fairly flat, but no, the Par 4 272 Yard 12th went up yet another hill, this time leaving you with a totally blind second shot. Negotiate that, and along comes the Stroke Index 1 Hole, a steeply downhill 446 Yard Par 5, named chillingly "The Cemetery". Says it all, really. The fairway is as wide as you'd ever wish to find, but then it funnels in severely, leaving you a blind second shot played between thick lines of gorse, whins and heavy rough. I trundled my way down the left side of the fairway, dodging bullets all the way, with blind second and third shots which to my great surprise found the green, leaving me with a rare birdie putt from 10 or so feet. I missed, but a par there was pretty good. Don't even think about taking your bag from the 13th to the 14th, a 192 Yard Par 3. The long flight of steps upwards should tell you all you need to know, as should its name, "Rest and be Thankful."
The 14th is actually a pretty straightforward flattish hole, but it's all carry and anything under-hit will finish in a gully, leaving you an awkward shot to the green. Holes 15-17 are also wider and more inviting, the 17th having a river directly in front of the green, as shown by this photo taken from the 18th tee. The 17th is a 385 Yard Par 4 and I'd hit a good drive, but with a reasonable score to nurse, I laid up and hit a wedge to 20 feet for a "chicken" bogey. Either that, or I know my limitations. The last hole at Dunaverty is an unremarkable flat 303 Yard Par 4. A pity in a way, since this challenging little course deserves a stronger finishing hole, rather than just Driver to a very wide fairway (and if you miss that the rough is short and thin), a wedge and a couple of putts in front of the clubhouse windows. I'd narrow the fairway, feed the rough and add some deeper bunkering as there's not much room to add significant length.
I enjoyed playing Dunaverty and scored pretty well, going round in a gross 75 (net 64, or 2 under net par), with 31 Putts. I strongly recommend you add this to a trip to play the 2 championship courses at Machrihanish and the excellent Carradale course.