Willie Campbell first designed The Machrie in 1891. At the time he was said to have proclaimed that it was the finest ground for a golf course that he had ever had the pleasure of viewing.
When planning the course, he made it intentionally long by 19th century standards to attract golfers to Islay. The Machrie is also unique amongst links courses. Most run alongside the dunes, The Machrie however crosses over the dunes, resulting in the many blind spots the course is so well known for.
The Machrie Links hosted a famous match in 1901 between James Braid, John Henry Taylor and Harry Vardon. The Prize money was £100, reputed to be the largest prize of its kind at that time in the British Isles.
The Links later hosted the Western Isles Open Championship in June 1935.
Course Designer Willie Campbell (1862-1900) designed The Machrie Links in 1891. He was born in Musselburgh, Scotland but later emigrated to the US. During his playing career, he reached the top ten in The Open Championship eight times in the 1880s.
Campbell quickly gained fame as an instructor and as a player on moving to the US. He became the first professional at The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts in 1894, the same year he played in the first unofficial US Open, losing by just two shots to Willie Dunn.
At Brookline he established the foundations of the present course and oversaw the development of The Country Club from a 6 hole course to a 9 hole course in 1894 then to an 18 hole course in 1899.
While serving as summer pro at Essex Country Club, Manchester, Massachusetts, he planned other courses in the Northeast.