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Western Gailes

Western Gailes: Up there with the very best links courses in Britain

Why we’d rather be playing this classic Scottish links on the Ayrshire coastline

 

The Ayrshire coastline is blessed with some of Britain’s classic links courses, and Western Gailes is up there with the very best. Laid out in a figure of eight, the course has the railway track running down one side and the ocean running down the other.

While the long, thin strip of linksland is typical of the west coast, the situation of the clubhouse in the middle is most unusual. 

This is links golf at its very best and the back nine is as hard as anywhere when the wind picks up. It usually blows from the west and makes the 17th hole one of the most difficult par fours you will ever tackle.

History

Formed in 1897 by four Glaswegians who were fed up with playing on muddy parkland, Western Gailes Golf Club is listed in the catalogue of Simpson & Company Golf Architects.

The Scottish links venue has hosted a number of prestigious tournaments, including the Scottish Amateur Championship, which returned for the eighth time to Western Gailes in 2011, the 1972 Curtis Cup, the 1964 PGA Championship, and in 2007 was host to the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship. It is often used as a qualifying venue for the Open.

Originally, golfers used to arrive at Gailes Station on the train from Glasgow. Unfortunately, the station was closed in the 1960s but Western Gailes remains a popular destination for those who live and work in the city. The clubhouse sits proudly overlooking the links, with views across the water to the Isle of Arran beyond. It offers players the perfect setting to relax after the challenge of the famous course.

What makes Western Gailes special?

Aptly named, be prepared for a westerly wind that can be undeniably ferocious and cunning as it switches direction from a south-westerly to north-westerly. On occasions it can be soul-destroying.

A very stiff golfing test, Western is known to make golfers use every club in the bag.

Compared to most links courses, Western has an unusual layout, with the clubhouse being located at the centre of the property. The course still runs in an out-and-back routing, but not in the true sense of 1-9 out and 10-18 back.

The first four holes head north, parallel to the railway tracks. The next nine holes head straight back along the coastline in a southerly direction, passing the clubhouse along the way, and usually playing into the stiff breeze. Then, you turn back for home, with the closing five holes heading north once more, with the railway line coming into play again.

Where does it rank?

24th in GB&I, 16th in Scotland, 3rd in Ayrshire

Where is it?

Western Gailes is located on the west coast of Scotland, a short drive from Kilmarnock and a 40 minute drive from Glasgow Prestwick airport. Gailes Links, Dundonald Links and Irvine are all within a five-minute drive in a truly glorious area for golf.

Get in touch with Western Gailes

Western Gailes

For more information about the club and course, visit their website or call them on 01294 311649.

You can play at Western Gailes on the NCG Top 100s Tour this year!

  • Register now to play in our 2024 Western Gailes event on May 7th here.

Now have your say

Have you ever played Western Gailes before? Let us know with a post on X, formerly Twitter!

Matt Coles

Matt Coles

Mention a European country, and Matt will tell you which resorts make the National Club Golfer Top 100s: European Resorts list. He might even throw in who designed the golf course and how many rooms the hotel has got at each one…

Matt got into the game of golf from a young age, following his old man to the local golf club. He fell for the sport, and now can’t seem to go a day without thinking about how to improve his game (Thanks Dad!). Matt has been a member of Howley Hall GC in Leeds since 2020, and is just about managing to maintain a single-figure handicap. He likes to remind people that he once broke 75, but won’t tell people that it was on a shortened course during the winter.

He moved to Leeds after graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Journalism. Matt joined NCG after almost five years travelling the world with the Professional Squash Association, working on events in all four corners of the globe.

Matt currently plays a Cobra King LTDx driver and RadSpeed 3-wood. TaylorMade monopolise the rest of his bag, with a SIM UDI, M5 irons and both Milled Grind and HI-TOE wedges, along with a Monza Redline putter. He uses a Vice Pro Plus golf ball, because he’s a bit different…

Away from golf, Matt is a Manchester United fan, and a keen runner, having ran the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon (his first and possibly last), in May 2023.

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