GLASGOW gailes - 16 POINTS
There are few places in Britain where you have three courses as good as Glasgow Gailes, Western Gailes and Dundonald pretty much within walking distance of each other. In Glasgow Gailes you will find a club full of a tradition, a course full of character and you will probably need a golf bag full of balls!
The course is of a similar age to next door Western Gailes, first laid out in 1892 and is the links course belonging to the members of Glasgow Golf Course. It is now the only course in Scotland used for final qualifying for The Open Championship, such is the test that you will get from the course.
I should say that I played it on a day of really tremendous wind. It blew over 30 mph consistently and played as a 4 club wind. While that may have made it difficult to fully appreciate some of the subtleties of the course (it was about survival at times out there!) it is testament to the quality of the place that it was still so enjoyable.
It was clear from the start that this was a course which would reward accuracy over brute strength. Unusual amongst many Scottish links courses heather is a feature right from the off and I would advise you to keep a very clear eye on the line if you go near it as it is very clumpy and the ball seemed to hide in it a lot! Gorse comes into play a lot to so this is a course which you would do better to try and nurse the ball around rather than overpower. The course is a 6,322 yard par 71 from the yellow tees but can be extended all the way to 6,900 yards when it comes to Open qualifying. On the day we played the opening stretch was tough as we were playing straight into the gale for 6 of the first 7 holes. Particularly memorable was the long 530 yard 5th with a narrow entrance to a really undulating green. Often I am told this hole is downwind and that would have made it a very different proposition to the one we encountered!
The back 9 played with the wind mainly and that allowed us to enjoy the surroundings a little more. Western Gailes has the better views as it is actually on the water but the condition of Glasgow Gailes was a joy with very true greens. This was real links golf - getting the right line in was essential to hold the putting surface - and while won't be able to open the shoulders as much as you can at a St Andrews, Dornoch or North Berwick you will have no doubt when you leave that you have enjoyed a really authentic links experience.
BOOKING THE COURSE
You can book tee times on the Glasgow Gailes site here. Times are available 7 days a week which is very handy when trying to organise a tour. Green fees range from £45 a round in the winter to £95 in the peak of summer - although reduced afternoon rates are available.
If you are looking for a great experience in the area do consider booking the 'Gailes Experience' where you will pay from £135 in the winter rising to £260 in the summer for 3 green fees - Western Gailes, Glasgow Gailes and Dundonald. To give you an idea of the value it would cost you £375 to book those independently so well worth looking at.
The Ayrshire coast is often overlooked and as quality golf is added to both the far north and north-east of Scotland the competition is only increasing. However, it is very accessible, easy to get around and a really classic links experience. Western Gailes is just south of Irvine, only 45 minutes south of Glasgow Airport. Where to base yourself probably depends which other courses you are looking to play but you could do a lot worse that use Troon as your base, it certainly has more to offer than Irvine and is less than 15 minutes away from Western Gailes, Glasgow Gailes and Dundonald. We stayed at the Marine hotel, overlooking the 18th green and a short way from the harbour which has lots of eating and drinking options. Alas Pebbles, the pub-come-nightclub which looked like it was someone's front room, is now closed but there are still plenty of options to enjoy.
As with the Gailes experience for tee times keep your eyes out for packages to this area. £305 gets you three rounds of golf, 2 nights bed and breakfast and a dinner here!
Western and Glasgow Gailes and Dundonald would all be good additions to any tour, and probably in that order. The obvious other big guns to add would be Prestwick, host to 24 Opens, and current rota courses Royal Troon and Turnberry, which is 40 minutes to the south.
I would thoroughly recommend a trip to this part of Scotland and you will experience some great value links golf.
Glasgow Gailes Golf Club
Scotland KA11 5AE
Phone: +44 (0)141 942 2011