Western Gailes - Ayrshire & Arran - Scotland

Western Gailes Golf Club,
Gailes,
Irvine,
Ayrshire,
KA11 5AE,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1294 311649

  • Golf Club Website

  • 3 miles N of Troon, off A78

  • Welcome Mon, Wed & Fri – contact in advance

  • Douglas Zuill

  • F. Morris, Fred Hawtree

  • None

Western Gailes Golf Club is wedged between Irvine Bay and the railway tracks on one of Ayrshire’s narrowest strips of links land. Western and its next-door neighbour, Glasgow Gailes, are the northernmost of the exceptional links courses located on this prodigious stretch of Ayrshire coastline.

Four Glaswegians who were fed up with playing on muddy parkland founded the club in 1897. They recruited the first keeper of the greens, Mr. F. Morris, to lay out the course on land leased from the Duke of Portland. The original Western Gailes course remained virtually untouched until Fred Hawtree revised a number of holes in the mid 1970s. 

Western is an unusual layout in that the clubhouse is more or less centrally located. 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 then the closing five holes head northwards, back towards the clubhouse and once more along the railway line.

Whilst the layout, as we have already mentioned, is unusual but ostensibly nine out and nine back, the holes are wonderfully varied. The fairways undulate gently, interrupted occasionally by three meandering burns that dissect this thin strip of land. The greens sites are cleverly located in naturally folded ground; some are protected by burns whilst others, like the 6th, are in hollows guarded by sand dunes. All the greens are fast, firm and subtly contoured. The 14th hole, a wonderful par five which often plays downwind, provides a huge temptation for big hitters, but numerous bunkers lie in wait.

Be prepared for a westerly wind that can be undeniably ferocious and cunning as it switches direction from south-westerly to north-westerly. On occasions it can be soul-destroying. Western Gailes is a suitably fitting name for this golf course.

Western is a very stiff golfing test – expect to use every club in the bag. The layout measures 6,714 yards from the back tees and Western has hosted a number of important events, including the 1972 Curtis Cup, narrowly won by the USA and the 1964 PGA Championship, won by AG Grubb. Additionally, the course is used for final qualifying when the Open is played at Troon or Turnberry.

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Reviews for Western Gailes

Av. Reviewers Score:

A rare course indeed that has no weak holes and all very “linksey”, which again is quite rare – western Gailes is a rare course. A short par 4 to start which is a good design feature enabling golfers to hit irons or rescues to get into the round and off the first tee. The second is a strong par 4 with a bowl as a green complex assisting the approach. The front green side bunkers are set back towards the fairway providing a different perspective. The par 4, 5th is tough but beautiful. The par 5, 6th hole was my favourite hole on the course closely followed by par 3, 7th. The most exhilarating stretch is 5 to 13 which is the land closest to the sea. The short par 3, 13th is an exquisite hole to end the seaside run. The consecutive par 4s of 11 and 12 are brutes and to play these cumulatively in 1 over is good golf. The 17th is my favourite hole of the “inner” holes, but as I say, there are no bad holes on this course.

April 21, 2017


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We played Western Gailes as part of the Gailes Golf Experience along with Glasgow Gailes and Dundonald, a brilliant collection of courses, of which Western Gailes was our clear pick.

As previously noted, a well appointed club house where you are met and directed to your pre round preparations.

The starter was very friendly, and you are away.

A lovely bit of Links land, very well kept with not too many uneven lies on the pretty fairways but plenty of trouble.

The stretch from the 5th with the sea on your right is good golf, with views to Arran and Ailsa Craig and some lovely green sites hard on the beach.

Possibly a couple of the holes on the way back in were a little weaker, but still had burns and other hazards to keep the interest.

Highly recommended.

September 04, 2016


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Was booked in here between playing Prestwick and Royal Troon and sort of expected it to be the lesser course. Whilst Prestwick is a wonderfully traditional Club experience, the quirky back nine makes it an essential experience which gets better on each return as you have more idea what lies ahead and Royal Troon is also a very special place with the stands starting to appear, Western Gailes was to me the highlight of the week .... Great holes and visually stunning on a par with Royal Dornoch, Brora, Machrihanish, Nairn, Crail (and the far end of Troon) etc for REALLY looking the part as stunning links territory. Already excited about the planned return in September !!

April 20, 2016


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I reread my review of Western Gailes, written four years ago after my first visit. I gave it a five ball rating, said some nice things about the staff and the caddies, and was very complimentary of a course that I had very much enjoyed playing. I liked it even more this time around. The greens complexes, the layout, the risk/reward possibilities, the beauty of Western Gailes, all add up now, for me, to a solid six-ball rating. I would go so far to say that, all things being equal, I would prefer to play Western Gailes to Royal Troon.

July 07, 2015


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This is difficult...WG obviously is a quality links with lots of history, but if you have literally played dozens of them..or plan to do so, what do you gain by adding WG to the mix?Seriously, I would "only" pick WG if you cannot get Prestwick into your itinerary or if you are cheesed off with Royal Troon for trying to sell you a pricey day ticket with a round on the Portland instead of two chances of getting a birdie on the Postage Stamp.... Mind you, the probability is pretty high of both those things happening and if you come you will get a great welcome by the nice staff.In mid-May 2015 the greens were not entirely true and not on the level of Glasgow Gailes or Dundonald, so that may have coloured this review somewhat. In summary and old-style Michelin language: worth a detour, not a journey.
May 30, 2015


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Played this magnificent course as part of the Gailes experience in 2012. Dundonald and Glasgow Gailes are obviously excellent courses but WG is in another league. I’m from Australia and I would like to play every links course in the world. Luckily I have an English wife so for the past 10 years my annual trip has been to the UK therefore most years I get to pick and choose a place to stay for a week. When I chose Troon I was not interested in the Royal course, leave that till later, but did play these 3 along with the municipal courses (Darley a cracker) and Barassie. WG was simply stunning. The starter let me know in no uncertain terms it was far superior to GG and DD and I think everybody would have to agree. I won’t bore you with hole by hole descriptions, all you need to know is it is a course that is simply fantastic. Of the 33 links I have played so far (using True Links’ 246 as THE list) this is #2 behind the Old course. I can't believe there are, according to this website, 20 odd links courses better than this. I can't wait!
May 21, 2015


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Western Gailes is laid out on a narrow stretch of land between the railway line and the sea. Except for the short 13th, all holes run north or south with never enough room for more than two fairways side by side.

With the lovely clubhouse more or less centred, the first four holes run north, followed by a brilliant stretch from the 5th to the 12th that run along the shoreline. These holes turn at the 13th so that the last five run north beside the railway line and back to the clubhouse.

The 5th is the first of the seaside holes. Index 1, it is 499 yards from the back tee. As it is a par four, you don’t want to be into the wind. The fairway bottlenecks 110 yards out from the well bunkered green.

Fourteen is by far the longest hole at 562 yards. The drive is over gorse to a fairway with plenty of rough and bunkers on both sides. Out of bounds and the railway line is in play on the right on all the holes from the 14th, with the exception of the par three 15th.

Western Gailes is such a joy to play that you will be very sorry to see the round come to an end. On a fine sunny day, there can be fewer better vistas than to stand on the 7th tee looking down the course. To the left is the fine clubhouse and to the right the peaks of Arran and the outline of Ailsa Craig further south.

This review is an edited extract from Another Journey through the Links, which has been reproduced with David Worley’s kind permission. The author has exclusively rated for us every Scottish course featured in his book. Another Journey through the Links is available for Australian buyers via www.golfbooks.com.au and through Amazon for buyers from other countries.
April 29, 2015


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I love visiting this place as there’s an understated elegance about everything: from the locker room to the lounge, from the first tee box to the last green, Western Gailes effortlessly exudes an almost casual aura of golfing perfection. The 6th, 7th and 17th are three of the best holes in Scottish golf, with greens positioned to maximise the natural Western Gailes Golf Course - Photo by reviewercontours of the land (be it in the form of sand hills, hollows or ridges). Although our group played in light rain for most of the round, we were fortunate to have only a slight breeze blowing at our back for holes 5 to 13, allowing a decent score to be made IF the ball was kept on the short cut grass. Reasonable fairway width is an aspect of this course that I’d never really considered before but it’s an attribute worth mentioning, if only to reassure golfers playing here for the first time that you CAN start and finish with the same golf ball! The starter told us before setting out that “80% of visiting golfers are from USA” and, judging from the number of American bag tags hanging up inside the starter’s box, that’s probably a pretty accurate percentage – just goes to show our cousins across the Atlantic might know more about links golf than they’re often given credit for… Jim McCann
September 05, 2014


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Played this great links course in early Spring 2013. Not in it's best condition after long hard winter. Despite this the quality shone through, with holer 6,7 and especially 17 being classic risk and reward holes. Big disappointment was in the attitude of the members. Playing as a 2 ball we were held up from the 1st to the 18th by a four ball of elderly members. They spent over 20 minutes playing one hole, looking for 2 successive lost balls, and like middle lane motorway drivers appeared oblivious to our presence. I am sure the fact that my companion was a lady player, who drove two of the par fours was nothing to do with it! I would have given this course a 5, perhaps 6 star rating, were it not for the attitude of the members to visitors. Would not recommend if there are lady members in your visiting party. Come on guys, it's 2013, not 1953!
June 27, 2013


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£85 twilight rate as a visitor was well worth it to play this magnificent links. Aesthetically (for lovers of links golf) this place is pretty hard to beat with its traditional layout of superb holes sandwiched between the railway and the sea. Henry the starter is a true gent and has many fun stories about all the greats of the game (banter with Rory when he drove the 1st into the wind with a ridiculous stinger 3 wood shot etc.). Holes 6 and 7 are ‘out of this world’. Double breaking par 5 with a green partially hidden into a dune and then one of the best par 3’s you could ever wish to play. Just go and play it as my words won’t do it justice. The 17th is a lovely par 4 and very challenging with a marker post the beacon for a challenging 2nd over some trouble. Most fun you can have playing links golf I think. Just pipped to the post by Turnberry Ailsa and Royal Troon as they have the ‘open factor’ but ahead of Prestwick old IMHO. 5.5 stars so rounding up to 6!
June 16, 2013


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Charles King
December 04, 2013
This is such a tough course to rate; firstly it's an old track - classic links if you like and all the better for it with angled fairways and a premium placed on accuracy off the tee. But, is it a 6-ball rating which puts it alongside Turnberry or 'just' a 5? Of all the Ayrshire links I'd say Prestwick and Western (save for Troon and Turnberry of course) are streets if not actually miles ahead of places like Dundonald and Barassie. The stretch of holes from 5 through 11 are all gems and not just because of the scenery across the water. In conclusion it's a strong 5-baller if that's the correct term.