Andy Marshall PGA Professional’s Top 10 Courses in Ayrshire
Gailes Links (sometimes known as Glasgow Golf Club) has hosted major championship tournaments through the years and was designed by legendary golf architect Willie Park Jnr of Musselburgh. It was opened in 1892 by Glasgow Golf Club, the 9th oldest golf club in the world, whose members initially played on Glasgow Green and subsequently on Queen’s Park and Alexandra Park, all 3 areas which were owned and managed by the then Glasgow Corporation and were open to all Glasgow citizens whether or not they were club members. As golf mushroomed in popularity at the start of the 1890s and the Alexandra Park course became more and more crowded, the members decided to start looking for suitable ground in Ayrshire to establish a course which would complement the city one and, most importantly, which they themselves would control and manage – and soon homed in on Gailes and agreed the initial lease with the landowner, the Duke of Portland, in time for the course to be officially opened on 19th May 1892.
Its West Coast setting and fabulous condition makes it ideal for summer and winter golf in Scotland. Gailes has been an Open Championship Final Qualifying course since 1973 and it has also hosted The Home Internationals, the Europe v USA Palmer Trophy, the Scottish PGA Championship, the Scottish Amateur Championship, the Scottish Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship, the Scottish Seniors Open Amateur Strokeplay Championship, the British Youths Open Amateur Championship and the British Seniors Open Amateur Championship. For four years from 2014, Gailes Links will be the sole Scottish Final Open Qualifying course.
At 6903 yards long from the championship tees with a par of 71 Gailes Links Ayrshire is a great test of golf whilst the kinder medium tees provides a fine test for players of all abilities. It is simply traditional links at its best.
The challenge starts with a steady stream of four consecutive par fours followed by the signature hole of the course, the 5th – a par five of 536 yards – a dog-leg with out-of-bounds to the right and a treacherous undulating green that’s guarded by strategically placed sand traps. Playing downwind the longer hitters may have a chance of hitting the green in 2 – other players should try and lay up to 100 yards out to give themselves a chance to make a birdie with an approach shot to the right side of the green leaving you with a makeable uphill putt.
On the back 9 my favourite hole is the 15th – a par 3 where although its only 140 yards to the front of the green it’s no pushover. Your tee shot must be accurate or a bogey or worse is on the cards. A narrow green is guarded by 2 deep pot bunkers on the right and a 10 foot drop on the left. The best play on this hole is a short to mid iron to the front of the green which will leave an uphill putt and the best place to attack for a 2 putt par.
With its undulating fairways, fine greens and subtle qualities, the course is an honest test of golfing skills in true links fashion and there’s always a warm welcome in the clubhouse!