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Five Courses to Play On A Golf Trip To Ayrshire

A Golfing Experience Ayrshire by Becky Gee


Five Courses to Play On A Golf Trip To Ayrshire


Few golfers will go away from a trip to the west coast of Scotland feeling anything but astonished by the wealth of golfing goodies on over. Indeed, with so many courses to choose from, your biggest problem may well be deciding which of the historic links to play first.

Beyond the Open Championship layouts at Troon and Turnberry, here are five courses that you need to know about.


Western Gailes

Western Gailes is a majestic, albeit brutal links, that has long been considered among the finest courses in Scotland. Situated on a prestigious strip of golfing turf, the course is among the most varied links you are ever likely to encounter, with wily burns, sand dunes, and treacherous bunkers, just some of the course’s many hazards. With almost all the subtly contoured greens protected in some form, cleverly positioned drives, and approaches, are essential throughout.

Perhaps the most aptly named course in Britain, a devilish westerly wind frequently plays havoc with golfer’s rounds, as it cunningly switches from one direction back to the other, and ensures that Western Gailes is among the toughest courses on the Open Championship Final Qualifying roster.

Formed in 1897, the course has hosted several prestigious tournaments, including the Scottish Amateur Championship, the 1972 Curtis Cup, and the 2007 European Men's Amateur Team Championship.


West Kilbride

As with many of the courses along this spectacular coastline, West Kilbride affords fantastic views across to Arran, with ferry rides to the popular island available just a few minutes down the road at Ardrossan.

One of the most northerly of the fantastic links courses that line the Ayrshire coastline, West Kilbride is often overlooked in favour of the better-known courses further south. It shouldn’t be, for it is a magnificent layout with some of best views in the entire region.

With out-of-bounds coming into play on no fewer than twelve holes, and the course constantly buffered by the elements, the golfer will require nerves-of-steel if they are to successfully negotiate the Old Tom Morris layout.

Of particular note is the 16th, a majestic bunker-strewn hole that runs along the edge of the beach, with out-of-bounds lurking both to the right and to the back of the green.


Glasgow Gailes

Don’t be confused by the name. Gailes Links, the 9th oldest club in the world, is some way outside Scotland’s biggest city, on a spectacular stretch of links that also encompasses Western Gailes and Dundonald Links.

Although the origins of the club can be dated back to 1787, the present-day links was laid over a century later, in 1892, by Open Champion Willie Fernie.

Gailes Links is undoubtedly one of the toughest courses in the area, and plays host to Final Qualifying whenever the Open Championship is in town.

With the railway line making for an imposing out-of-bounds, the brutal wind for which the area is synonymous regularly putting in an appearance, and gorse lining many of the fairways, the links will pose the ultimate test for even the most accurate of players.


Prestwick St Nicholas

Founded in 1851 by Old Tom Morris, Prestwick St Nicholas is the lesser known offering in a historic golfing town which would play host to the first twelve Open Championships.

Once referred to by the great Henry Cotton as a ‘championship course in miniature,’ Prestwick St Nicholas certainly doesn’t possess the length to rival some of its neighbours, but the layout oozes an old-fashioned charm, with the eighteenth century “Salt Pan” buildings behind the 1st green, criss-crossed fairways, and spectacular views guaranteeing an absorbing golfing experience.

Anyone thinking that the short yardage equates to an easy round is very much mistaken. With out-of-bounds on no less than twelve of the holes, its exposed location on the Firth of Clyde making a strong breeze essentially a given, and gorse and deep bunkers featuring throughout, the course must be plotted with considerable thought.


Dundonald Links

Host to the AAM Scottish Men’s and Ladies Open, Dundonald Links stands out on this fabulous stretch of historic coastline for being a relatively new course. Nonetheless, despite only opening in 2005, the Kyle Phillips design has proved more than worthy of its prestigious position, and has quickly arisen to become one of Ayrshire’s finest golf courses.

Less rugged than neighbouring Western Gailes, Dundonald is nonetheless a fantastic course, renowned for being in fabulous condition, and is reminiscent of another Kyle Phillips gem, Kingsbarns, although with admittedly less spectacular views.  

Owned by Loch Lomond Golf Club, visitors are ensured a similarly high-level of service.


Becky Gee is a freelance golf writer and travel blogger from the United Kingdom. When not covering the latest events on the LPGA and Ladies European Tour for Women & Golf, she can be found blogging about her recent travels, golf course reviews, and latest musings on the female game at www.thenomadicgolfer.com


To book stay and play packages in Ayrshire please contact A Golfing Experience

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