LIGHTHOUSE keepers brought with them many things to help survive when stationed on Fair Isle. One of the lesser known traditions was golf.
The six-hole course on the Skaddan grounds at the South Lighthouse has been restored by one of the isle’s newest residents, Tommy Hyndman.
The course was on croft land, with competitors often playing among the sheep and the seabirds. The cups were tin cans and the pins broom handles stuck in the ground nearby. Golfers had to go round three times to get a full 18 holes.
Set up on jagged rock cliffs almost surrounded by the sea within the watchful eye of the lighthouse and its long shadow, even in light winds the course was very challenging and an adventure to play. It has been said the game always ended with an argument, then a dram of whisky followed by a long story.
The newly reinstated “Lighthouse Keeper’s Course” is much the same but with real cups and flag-pins. Still only six adventurous holes, the humble grounds and greens are still mostly maintained by the weather and the sheep.
Mr Hyndman said the islanders gladly welcomed the game’s return but insisted the sheep, birds and island football on Sunday afternoons all came first.
“We suggest, along with golf clubs and plenty of spare balls, you bring binoculars and a camera as these are some of the best areas for whale and bird watching in the island. At sunrise and sunset, the location is spectacular for visitors’ exploration.
“Whether you are a serious golfer or like serious fun . . . it’s out there waiting for you at Scotland’s most remote golf experience.
“It is with great hope that some day this lighthouse golf course will be linked up with ones on Foula and Skerries to make a complete 18 holes. The golfer that finds their way through such a golf course would undoubtedly have a story to tell.”
Mr Hyndman said he would like to collect or buy cheap sets of clubs and golf equipment and have them sent over on the ferry Good Shepherd.
“I will need an assortment available for all types of players – men, women, kids and left-handed. Anything that you can give will be greatly appreciated. I am also very interested in any old stories from those people who might have played golf on Fair Isle in the past.”
The green fees are £5 for 1-18 holes and club rentals are available. For more information contact Mr Hyndman at Fair Isle Lighthouse Keeper’s Golf Course, Auld Haa Guest House, Fair Isle, or call (01595) 760349.