Andy Marshall PGA Professional’s Top 10 Courses in Ayrshire
Irvine Golf Club – sometimes referred to as ‘Irvine Bogside’ owes much or its character and variety to the legendary course designer James Braid. It is highly regarded by the R&A being used as a final qualifying course for the Open Championship, when it is hosted by near neighbours, Royal Troon or Trump Turnberry.
Founded in 1887 Irvine is a course that often goes under the radar when people discuss golf in this part of the country but it can rightly claim to be one of Scotland’s hidden gems.
The Irvine Golf Club is a traditional links course, where greens run true and golfing challenges can be found at every hole with breathtaking landscapes and views over the Firth of Clyde to the Island of Arran. The Braid design uses the natural contours to best effect and no two holes are alike. No matter how many times you return to play this fabulous course, you will enjoy the experience as if for the first time, as you discover more of its interesting features and character.
It is part of the James Braid West Coast trail and represents a fine example of his course architecture, blended with the breath taking landscapes and views over the Firth of Clyde.
There are several holes that call for thought and accuracy and none more so than the 4th hole – The Moor which is a par 4 requiring accuracy from both tee and second shot. The main West Coast railway line is out of bounds on the left, running the full length of the hole. A good tee shot will set up a short iron approach to the plateau green, and although the hole is devoid of bunkers, danger awaits the overhit approach, with the River Irvine and the railway line lying behind the green, whilst an approach hit short will leave a difficult recovery chip up to the green.
On the back 9 my favourite hole is the 14th – The Specs – a shortish par 4 where you need to avoid the bunkers on both sides of the fairway from the tee to set up a mid to short iron approach shot to the green which lies over a grass bank containing the 2 bunkers from which the hole takes its name. The green is two-tiered, making the accuracy of the approach important if a three putt is to be avoided.
There are many fine links golf courses on the Ayrshire Coast. The Irvine Golf Club should stand proudly as one of the best but maybe less familiar – and should be on your ‘must play’ list. A club where you’re always guaranteed a very warm welcome and fantastic turf from which to play.