Cawder Golf Club members are in the enviable position of not only having two fine 18-hole courses on which to play, they also have a magnificent old 17th century mansion house as a clubhouse, bringing a degree of grandeur to the proceedings before and after a round of golf here.
Routed over gently undulating parkland with mature trees in abundance, the Cawder courses are amongst the very best 36-hole golf facilities in west central Scotland. The Keir course – with no par fives – is a bit on the short side at only 5,871 yards but the main course, the Championship, measures a very reasonable 6,297 yards with a par of 70.
James Braid laid out the original courses in the mid 1930s but the Championship has been redesigned on several occasions since then. The first time was just after World War II, then in the late 1960s when part of the course was lost to mine workings. The final draft of the present layout was completed in 1981 and the course has remained largely intact since then.
There are some pleasant changes in elevation throughout the round on the Championship course with a lovely surprise near the end – at “Kelvin,” the 454-yard 14th and “The Gardens,” the 390-yard 15th – where water comes into play, offering beauty and danger in equal measure.
The Championship course at Cawder is a stiff test of golf. The course has a good mix of holes that either demand a long and accurate drive or a precision approach to a lot of smaller targets.
It will certainly separate the field with some very tough driving holes where you are asked to shape the ball or play to the correct side of the fairway.
The course has an excellent range of par 3s where most players will have an iron in their hand. The 14th is the one that sticks in my mind as a near perfect golf hole with a mid to short iron into a beautiful, well bunkered green. And 18 is the signature hole, at 200 yards with a substantial drop in elevation down to a large green with the grand old club house behind.
For my standard of golf - this course asked too many questions off the tee to really put a score together but longer, straighter hitters will enjoy the challenge.
When I played it, post Corona lockdown in July 2020, it had suffered from clearly being extremely busy and there were a few minor conditioning issues on walk off spots. But tees, fairways and greens all with good grass coverage and ideal for play.
Played as a 12 strong Society in June, top score 27 points !
There are several holes (2,3,15) that felt like par 4 and a half's.
The opening 3 and closing 5 holes are tough, unforgiving holes with a more straight forward middle section with some back and forth sections.
Plays longer than the card, good value, grand but homely club house and friendly staff and members.
Very difficult if playing for the first time, and if you are struggling off the tee (as I was) 20 points isn't a bad score in amongst all the "blobs" !
Just played this as a guest and it is a fantastic course. The set up of the holes are well thought out and are tough but enjoyable. Holes 1,2 and 3 is how a golf course should be set up. Hole 4 to 12 are really fair but tough.
13 to 18 are a absolute joy and a nightmare to play!! Stunning course, stunning clubhouse, and friendly pro and staff. A must play course for any golfer.. Well done Cawder. Oh the Keir I have not played but look forward to the smaller course soon.⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Glasgow has only five courses listed on this website and the Cawder layout at Cawder Golf Club probably deserves its number 1 billing in an area that’s not over endowed with great courses. It starts with a couple of holes on flatter terrain (which is revisited at the 14th and 15th) with the remainder of the course routed on top of an escarpment that overlooks the surrounding area.
The 3rd hole taking you up to that level is a mighty par four, rightly rated as stroke index 2, and the snaking par five 7th is another fine hole on the front nine. Holes 13-16 are billed as “Cawder’s Amen Corner” - and there’s even a big sign after the 12th green to let you know just that! In fairness, it’s a terrific four-hole sequence, with water strategically in play at the par fours on 14 and 15.
The ending’s just a little too contrived for me. Having just descended from the higher level, the course climbs back up again at 16 and 17, before playing back down to the clubhouse at the long par three 18th.
The price for this last, extra visit to the elevated ground is having two of the last three holes played as par threes, which is never really a satisfactory way to end a round and I’m struggling to think of any other course I’ve played that has that sort of finish.
There’s no way the Cawder course merits a 6-ball mark (as awarded by the last reviewer) as that sort of award should only be given to exceptional, world-class layouts. A solid 4-ball mark is what it truly deserves, along with an endorsement to play here as a visitor if you can secure a discounted tee time like the one I got today.
I should start by saying that having been a member at Cawder for around 30 years I could be accused of bias. However, as someone who has loved the game of golf since my teens, I feel I have a responsibility to make anyone who is interested, aware of the treat they could be missing if they were to miss the chance to play at Cawder.
For me a great course has to combine challenge, visual appeal and course condition. On this basis Cawder rates highly an all three counts.On the card, Cawder appears to be a short course, but this is deceptive. For a medium handicap golfer the course offers an almost constant challenge. Indeed many low handicappers have card-wrecking experiences before reaching the 4th tee.
None of the holes are unfair, but if you have a tendency to hook the ball the first eleven holes can be very daunting. The long 11th and 12th holes bring some relief, being the only holes on the course, apart from the 1st, that don’t give you much of an opportunity to lose a ball.
You then come to the final six holes, which include two magnificent doglegs through trees and water and three (yes three) beautiful short holes. Anything can happen over this stretch and usually does.
Despite the thrill of the challenge offered by the course, perhaps Cawder’s main claim to fame is the superb condition of the course. The greens are usually very fast and beautifully true. My guests are invariably amazed by the quality of the greens and the rest of the course is of a similar standard.
I recently moved to Hamilton, where I have several well-regarded courses on my doorstep. However, in keeping with many of the courses I have played in the West of Scotland, they cannot hold a candle to Cawder, and despite now having a 45-minute journey to play golf I would not consider joining a more convenient club.
Cawder is fortunate in having two courses. The other course (the Keir) is fairly flat and much less intimidating. But like the Cawder course, it is always in immaculate condition with beautifully maintained greens. If you get the chance to play at Cawder don’t miss it. Finding Cawder has been one of the highlights of my golfing life. I hope that you have the same experience.