Western Gailes Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland might well have more “good references” than any other course in Scotland. Because, if you ask many golfers who have made the circuit of Scotland’s great links which was their very favorite course, you may be surprised at the results because Western Gailes Golf Club, about 10 minutes north of Troon, frequently tops the list!
Although Western Gailes Golf Club is not normally mentioned in the same breath as the famous Open Championship venues, this glorious links, superbly located between the railway and the sea (with a wonderful entrance drive), is one worthy of great fame. Western Gailes Golf Club is certainly Scotland’s original “hidden gem.” Large dunes, cunning burns, fast greens, and terrific views of the Isle of Arran combine to make Western Gailes a beautiful challenge. The Western Gailes layout, with the clubhouse in the middle of the 2-holes-wide linksland, offers an interesting twist on the traditional out-and-back design.
Our favorite hole at Western Gailes Golf Club is the 7th, the par-3 “Sea Hole,” with a green hidden between a mammoth dune on the left and the beach on the right, with a deep, sleepered bunker hidden high and to the left. The links at Western Gailes Golf Club plays hard and fast, but the Western Gailes clubhouse should be played slowly, as it is a classic with one of the great locker rooms, and a cozy Smoke Room. Upstairs is a memorable club museum, with artifacts and photographs from Western Gailes’ illustrious past.
Unlike many links courses where the sea is almost completely hidden by massive sandhills or where the course itself is a long way from the sea, at Western Gailes you are always aware of its presence and beauty. The course puts no more emphasis on length than it does on the delicate approach shot or the well-struck medium or long iron, but all these skills are examined during a round at Western Gailes. Western Gailes represents to the true golfer, to the connoisseur of the game, something approaching the ideal in golf. True, there are more severe golfing tests, there may even be courses better groomed with more palatial clubhouses and possibly, though improbably, a more forthcoming and friendly membership. But few have so many of the good things of golf as Western Gailes. Perhaps that is why it has captivated so many golfers for so long and will continue to do so.