Updated: Jun 12, 2018
This was one of those rounds of golf that went by in the blink of an eye.
Probably the best day of the year weather wise on the Ayrshire coast, 20 degrees and only a light (10 mph) breeze off the sea, we played at 3pm when the course was relatively quiet. I had been looking for a game at Western Gailes for some time and when the invite finally came from an old work colleague and member I jumped at the chance to make the 90 min drive from Edinburgh.
I had been advised to wear Jacket and Tie so was slightly perplexed when entering the members bar to see a mixture of dress code, some with J&T but many with golf gear including shorts and golf shoes. It transpires that the club has a policy that recognises that travelling visitors may not be able to (or used to) bring jacket/tie, so they have a relaxed policy for overseas visitors. This is a great way of encouraging guests and making them feel welcome.
I was welcomed both by the Pro and the reception team and helpfully shown the best place to leave my golf bag and shoes.
Western Gailes clubhouse sits with magnificent views out to the Irish sea, the Isle of Arran and the Aisla Craig that sits off Turnberry, all you want to do is go straight out and play ! I sat for 10 mins and enjoyed a coffee and then couldn’t resist the call so went out onto the small putting green at the front of the clubhouse.
Our 3pm tee time was late in the day, and no doubt the greens were slower as a result, but the course was virtually empty and most of the members and overseas visitors had finished their rounds by this time. There was time for one more nice touch before we headed out, the kitchen staff informed us that the kitchen would be closed when we got back in but that they were happy to leave some sandwiches made up for us. We ordered rare roast beef (horseradish of course) and tuna with red onion and headed out to the course.
We played off the white tees at 6,600 yards (test enough) & the first is a reasonably sedate starting hole down wind, but I managed a nervy 6,5 start before getting into my stride on the remaining downwind holes. The great thing about Western is that every hole has a view of the sea, the driving lines can be picked with relative ease (but my playing partner was also keen to help) and the gorse and fescu rough provides the course with magnificent definition. Both 9’s have holes that go with and against the wind so the variation is also excellent. There are also a number of holes where the green is protected by the small burn that runs across the course.
As usual on links courses avoiding the deep bunkers/taking your medicine is critical to keeping a score going. Stand out holes for me were the Par 3 7th, and the closing 2 holes, into the wind, that really test your ability to close out a round. Well actually every hole will live long in the memory.
There are many stand out courses on the Ayrshire coast, not least of which are the Open Championship courses of Royal Troon and Trump Turnberry but Western Gailes is equally as good as either and is a must have on any bucket list. Best to be lucky with the weather though !
We headed back to the clubhouse for our sandwiches with my host’s ears ringing with thanks for the invitation. I hope to be back again soon …overall a 10/10 - but could easily be an 11 !