Western Gailes

Image by Mark Alexander, permission from Vicky O’Dowd, Western Gailes GC.
To view some of Mark’s work [CLICK]

Western Gailes, is situated amongst Ayrshire’s string of pearls and would probably be considered the areas ‘hidden gem’ albeit you might quibble over just how hidden the course really is. It would probably be more accurate to suggest it’s the most under-rated

It is recognised as one of the finest and truest links courses in Scotland measuring 7014 yards from the championship tees. The course has played host to the Curtis Cup, PGA Championship Seniors, and prestigious Scottish Amateur Championship. It is also one of the final qualifying courses when The Open is played at Turnberry or Royal Troon. The clubhouse, with its view of the hills of Arran and the sharp outline of Ailsa Craig standing out from the shimmering sea, gives an instant picture of the delights that the Western Gailes golf links provides and the comforts it affords to all who visit.


Founded 1897
Yardage Championship course, Medal tees 6640 yds
Par 72
GB & Ireland Ranking 37th in GB & Ireland
Handicap Restrictions No handicap restrictions apply


Western Gailes

The Course itself

In 1903 the great Harry Vardon won the first major championship at “Western” and in 1923 its attractions were being lauded by the then US Open Champion Gene Sarazen. The setting is imposing being hemmed in between the railway and the sea. Both hazards tightly frame the course in a traditional links straight-jacket similar to Troon. Western Gailes is no more than two holes wide, but unlike other such links, the clubhouse is in a more central position.

The clue to the challenge possibly lies in the name. ‘Western’ really means nearer to the sea than it neighbours, and in the lexicon of links of golf, that means wind. The prevailing nemesis varies between south-westerly and north-westerly off the adjacent Firth of Clyde. The wind is fickle and provides you with unfolding challenges as you attempt to navigate your way round. This omni-present threat gnawing away at both your physical and mental game is compounded further by the undulating terrain and finely contoured greens.

The Western Gailes golf links is a consummate challenge for the connoisseur. As Mark McCumnber declared in 2012, “I now have a new favourite links course”

This is an ‘in and out’ links with a slight difference. Because the clubhouse is in the centre, the first four holes give you a railway to contend with. After making your turn, the next nine holes introduce you to the beach, and if you’re particularly wild, at a high tide, the sea. The final turn, and the five remaining assignments reacquaint you with the railway line. As you might imagine with so much out of bounds, accurate driving is essential

The course is graced by three meandering burns that bisect it at ninety degrees as they wend their way out into the Atlantic. The burn is of course a staple of any links course, and one of the most unforgiving opponents you’ll encounter. They cleverly combine with bunkers to defend greens of crafty contouring positioned in naturally folding ground.

The biggest defender of the Western Gailes however is the wind which can bite like few others in Scotland do. You wouldn’t be the first person to come back in muttering darkly about the irony in the place name. It will require you to use every club available to you, and quite possibly a few shots you didn’t know you could play



Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs


Driving Range Available Yes
Rental Carts Available Yes; with medical explanation
Rental Trolleys Yes
Caddies Yes
Rental Clubs Available Yes
Pro Shop Yes

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