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Postage Stamp, Ayrshire

Why Ayrshire is the place to be for your golfing needs

There aren't many destinations in the world that can compete with Scotland's golf-rich west coast
 

With three Open Championship venues and close on four dozen courses – including incredible links layouts and inland treasures –  Ayrshire is simply a must0visit destination.

From spectacular Turnberry, to the delights of Dundonald, the region is a setting for some memorable golfing moments.

Where better to start your journey than at Gailes Links – a layout that attracts players from all over the world.

A stalwart of Open qualifying, Willie Park Jnr considered his redesign to be one of his nest creations and it’s a credit to his vision that his work has largely remained intact over the years.

One of the highlights of a wonderful seaside experience is the 5th, which doglegs to a ferociously guarded green with out of bounds running all the way down the right-hand side.

The peaks of Arran, meanwhile, provide a stunning backdrop to Irvine – a course that owes much of its character to the design skills of James Braid. Two of the most interesting holes on the course come early on.

The 4th, with the railway line running tight to the left all the way to the green, is a quirky and wonderful test, while the 5th – known as Sandface – lives up to its name with a massive bunker waiting to trap any drive that isn’t well struck.

Gary Player, Tom Watson and Rory McIlroy are among those who have fallen for the charms of Western Gailes, so why wouldn’t you?

An excellent test of true links golf, the ever-changing wind coming off the Firth of Clyde combines with the undulating terrain and finely contoured greens to present an excellent challenge.

Marvel in the dunes that run down the coastal stretch and try to avoid the plentiful pot bunkers and the meandering burns.

You’ll need to buckle up at Kilmarnock – more commonly known as Barassie – for an intimidating, but rewarding, round on a course that’s weighing in at around 7,000 yards.

You’d expect deep pot bunkers, large undulating greens, and even a double dogleg and the considerable changes that have been undertaken over the past few years – including an additional nine holes – make for a tough but exciting course to play.

Take on the par 3 4th – it’s epic, with a burn on the left and a sleeper- edged green.

If you’re on an Ayrshire excursion, you must visit the place where the Open Championship was born.

Prestwick may no longer be part of the rota, but it is still quirky and beguiling to this day. If you have any strong feelings for golf, you simply must play here.

Not much more than a long drive away is another course etched into Open folklore.

With the Postage Stamp and Railway just two of the great holes on this links, Royal Troon has played host to some of the greatest moments in the championship’s history.

NCG

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