Dundonald - Ayrshire & Arran - Scotland

Dundonald Links,
Ayr Road,
Gailes,
Irvine,
KA11 5BF,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1294 314000


Dundonald Links originally set out to be part of a golf and residential complex called Southern Gailes but when that didn’t happen, Loch Lomond Golf Club stepped in to snap up the course for its members in 2003, commissioning Kyle Phillips to put the finishing touches to the design. Dundonald Links European Tour First Qualifying Stage Sept 2010 - photo by Doug

Dundonald translates to “Fort Donald” and fortifications have been located near here dating as far back as 200 BC. A golf course existed on the site in the 1900s but this was later turned into a military station named Dundonald Camp. It was here that D-Day landings were rehearsed during the Second World War.

Lying next to the long established courses of Kilmarnock Barassie, Glasgow Gailes and Western Gailes, Dundonald is obviously situated in prime golfing country. The course yardage can vary from 6,415 to 7,300 yards so it can be played as a comfortable member course or as a championship venue.

Only opened in 2005, Dundonald has since proved to be a links of some repute and was the proud host venue for the 2017 Scottish Open, which Rafa Cabrera-Bello won in a play-off. If you like the pampering that goes with golf at the top tracks then this is the place to enjoy such millionaire’s golf for a relatively modest green fee.

The Dundonald experience begins at the gatehouse when the security man lifts the barrier to let you in – everyone from then on seem to know your name. It’s a mirror of the treatment you get at Loch Lomond, but the course here on the Ayrshire coast is a true links layout and the polar opposite of the private layout on the shores of the famous loch.

In 2019 Loch Lomond Golf Club sold Dundonald Links for £4.5 million to Darwin Leisure. Work began on a new clubhouse and lodge accommodation in 2020, to be delivered in two phases. Phase one will see the clubhouse built, eighteen lodged developed and twenty-two private rooms constructed next to the clubhouse by the end of 2021. Phase two will result in the expansion of the lodge accommodation up to a further seventy-nine lodges.

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Description: Dundonald Links originally set out to be part of a golf and residential complex called Southern Gailes but when that didn’t happen, Loch Lomond Golf Club bought the course in 2003 and commissioned Kyle Phillips to finish the design. Rating: 7.8 out of 10 Reviews: 52
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Brian Ward

Dundonald has been transformed since being purchased by Darwin Escapes in 2019. £25 million has been invested by the new owners with a very impressive two-storey clubhouse being the most noticeable upgrade since my previous visit. A new halfway house and 18 lodges, offering a choice of 2, 4 or 6 bedrooms, have also been built and after staying in one of these before my early morning round I can certainly recommend them based on their comfort and high-end modern facilities. No doubt these will prove to be a very welcome addition when the Women’s Scottish Open returns next year and for countless other visitors planning trips around the local courses.

The golf course is a fine modern links layout that is both challenging and interesting. No mean feat for Kyle Phillips and his team when you consider that this is a predominantly flat layout in a modest setting. This is a strategic course that asks you to avoid the well-placed fairway bunkers and find the best angles to the beautifully contoured and attractively bunkered greens. Most of the fairways offer width but accuracy with the approach shot is the key to a good score.

All of the par-3s offer something different and three of them are particularly memorable. The 6th with a threatening ditch running down the left side of the green demands your full attention as does the 15th with a carry of almost 200 yards to a raised and undulating target. The 11th is a stunning hole, at just 118 yards and playing over marshland; its defences are bolstered by three large pot bunkers and the steep slopes around an elevated green. This hole can be tricky to club in the wind but it’s great fun to play and visually one of the best on the course.

There are a number of strong par-4s on the outward half including the sweeping 2nd and mid-length 9th which is also fronted by a ditch. On the stronger back nine, the lovely 13th has a substantial wall forming a boundary down the left and views of Western Gailes over the tracks, with a ditch once again playing a part in protecting the green. The 16th and 17th are both excellent holes with pine trees lining the right side of the 16th fairway, an attractive and heavily contoured green awaits nestled amongst the dunes. The intimidating dogleg 17th is all about avoiding the five fairway bunkers from the tee and a nasty little pot bunker front left of the green.

All of Dundonald’s par-5s measure well over 500 yards and the 18th is the longest of them. Avoid the bunkers and the imposing ditch that snakes around the green and you will be very happy to walk away with a par.

November 27, 2021
7 / 10
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Patric McGuinness

There is an amazing story that goes with my playing this course. I am a London taxi driver and there is a little girl from Scotland, Lille Douglas who has cancer and when she has travelled down to London for treatment i have had the honour of being her driver for the duration of her stay. Part of my reason for visiting Scotland was to see her along with playing some golf on links courses.

Anyway, Lille and i are in a shop in Glasgow, along with my friend Jim Kirkland and Lillie's mum Jane, JIm and i are spoiling Lillie with some shopping and lunch in The Ivy, anyway we are in Fraser's and messing around making her laugh etc and there was a guy who was watching us make Lillie laugh, i thought no more of it. Anyway the following day i am heading to Irvine golf club when i passed the sign for Dundonald links, i thought 'that looks a nice place, lets go an see if they have any tee times'... Anyway, drove in, parked the van and walked into the pro shop and one of the guys who was stood in the shop was only the very same guy who was watching us in Frasers the day before. We got chatting and i explained to him the situation with Lillie and why she was in a wheelchair etc etc etc and needless to say, Jamie made my arrival at that course a real joy and i was overwhelmed with his hospitality towards me. What an absolute gentleman and a real asset to that club. There was nothing he couldnt do for me when i turned up there, no tee time just a random visit and he accomodated me without question.

The course was absolutely beautiful condition, even with th erain, the bunkers are deep and unforgiving if you get in em, the fairways are pristine and you can really attack the pins knowing the greens will hold your approach.

I played ffrom the back tee's and it was a real challenge, but the rain had stopped and there was no qind and it was the end of a beautiful day.

I have to say, in mu humble opinion the course is better than the old course at Royal Troon, and i know that will annoy some of the 'old' golfers who are attached to the historic nature of Troon/St Andrews etc, but i played Troon old course the day before and i have to admit, Dundoland Links was better to play for me. I enjoyed it more and it played better.

Yes play Troon if you get the chance, purely for the oppurtunity to play such an iconic course, but be sure to go and play Dundonald as well and put your review up here for people to see, because playing this course is a real challenge and yet such a joy to be on because of its beauty, its condition and the elements.

Plus the staff are truly wonderful. Soooooo worth a visit.

November 03, 2021
10 / 10
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Andy Cocker

Being a Top 100 UK & Ireland course, and at a more affordable rate for October golf than it's near neighbours, I was not disappointed with the choice made.

Since some of the previous reviews, Darwin Escapes has continued the development of the site, and the clubhouse is now complete - in fact it is opening after interpreters for the COP26 conference have left in a couple of weeks time. The single bedroom rooms, located near the clubhouse are in use and lodges are springing up down the side of the 10th fairway. There is still alot of landscaping to do around the lodges and clubhouse but having stayed at a Darwin Escapes in Norfolk in the Summer, I am confident when complete the facilities and accommodations will be top class.

Having warmed up with free range balls and also free use of a golf trolley ( nice touch) we headed to the large practice green in front of the clubhouse and before the 1st tee. Checking in is done at the halfway hut near the 10th (a bit messy) but Bingy the starter on the 1st was as friendly and chatty as starters come and helped relax us into our round.

Dundonald is a fine golf links, playable with wide and generous fairways, with all the trouble primarily on the edges, the manufactured dunes which frame each hole. This design feature by Kyle Phillips means that each hole is played in isolation on what is a huge property. There are large walks from green to tee in some places, with wildlife areas adjacent to some holes and notes on the nature you may see there - again nice touch.

Off the white tees the course plays out straight in front of you on the whole, with fairways undulating, fast running despite the torrential rain the day before and green complexes that were varied, with many undulations, slopes. The 3rd green was my favourite with 3 different levels, rising and falling like crests of waves.

The early holes offer a good mix of par 4's (1,2), 5's (3,5) and 3's (4,6) - the pick of these is the par 5 3rd, which sweeps left to right, has a channeled brook running down the right hand side and across the fairway as a challenge to your second shot, plus the multi levelled green.

The par 5, 5th is also strong, sweeping right to left, your tee shot running out of sight, before an approach shot to a green that sits slightly below you.

The course has 2 loops of 9, with 3 mid range par 4's bringing you back to the halfway hut, a latte and superb sausage roll waiting.

The front 9 has good routing, but the 2nd 9 really steps up and after playing the 10th, the best section is 11 - 16. The 11th is a superb short par 3, played over a waste area and with a stiff wind, this short 123 yards hole required 2 clubs extra to beat the wind! Then my favourite 2 holes - the 12th is a short par 4, played over a very undulating fairway and with the railway line as backdrop. There's something about links and railways and the regular passing of trains heading up the coast or down to Ayr added to the links and seaside vibe. Across the track is Western Gailes and the sea. To the left of the 12th green is Kilmarnock Barassie. You are in very good company. The 13th then plays alongside the railway track, with pine trees framing the green. Whilst some may like links to play open, I do love a good copse of pine trees and these pines, which also flank the 16th down the right hand side, help frame the hole beautifully. There is a brook before the green which is raised above you, and a penal front right bunker.

The course has a couple of crossing areas - holes 5 to 6, crosses with holes 8 -9 and the same applies as you head to the 14th, the path from hole 16-17 crosses.

The best of the par 3's is at hole 15, played 211 yards to a raised green with severe banking at the front and the railway and Western Gailes behind, this is a fine golf hole. And then the 16th which plays back alongside the railway line, screened by pines, the sun shining across the fairway highlighting the undulations, at 486 yards par 4, deservedly SI1 on the course.

The round finishes back in front of the clubhouse, a par 5 of 578 yards, a good drive (off the whites) does encourage a go at the green 2nd, but the green is well designed and protected. It is long and thin, at an angle to your approach, with a brook in front and tight right and a long bunker to the left. That's where I ended up and despite what I thought was an excellent bunker shot, the narrow green meant that the ball slowly ran off into the brook on the other side. Laying up may have been a better bet!

Kyle Phillips has done an excellent job with what was relatively flat land. The course is still maturing. The rough on the dunes had been cut back rather savagely but I was informed that this is to encourage more uniform growth. Each hole plays in almost isolation, the dunes acting as a perfect viewing platforms for any major tournament, the gorse on the holes adding to the challenge and visuals. There are some really strong holes supported by very good supporting ones in an excellently routed course that never wanders too far away from the clubhouse. The clubhouse looks splendid and when the accommodation and landscaping is complete this will be an excellent resort, a superb base to stay and play the myriad of top courses in addition to Dundonald in the area.

Looking forward to a return visit.

October 31, 2021
7 / 10
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Greg Watson

Played for the second time recently after 5 years and the course was as memorable as the first time, class facility and condition. Unfortunately access to the course is a little restricted now so a bit more difficult to arrange an affordable tee time. Finally the infrastructure around the property is well under development and although impressive, I quite missed the portacabin pro shop.

September 30, 2021
8 / 10
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Roy James Gilmour

Superb course, some quirky par 4s, some great par 3s and 5s, not the best views though as you cant see the coast from the course

March 11, 2021
8 / 10
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tamas

Full disclosure: although I'm writing this review in 2020, I last played the course a long time ago when it was still the 2nd course of the exclusive Loch Lomond club.

Dundonald has a fairly unassuming entrance, and with a temporary clubhouse (I understand this is finally being addressed) it doesn't feel anything special. The extensive practice facilities give you the first clue that the place has quality. On the wide practice ground it was just me and a couple of majestic stags.

Out on to the course, you can tell that some of the mounding has been man-made, to separate the holes but also to make vantage points for spectators. Make no mistake, this course was designed to host tournaments, it has the space and the facilities to accommodate the top players. It also has a challenging course that can be stretched to test the world's best.

I found myself constantly having to think about placement on the front nine, which appears less picturesque but more strategic than the back nine. The highlight for me was the 9th, where I boomed a big drive downwind, carrying the fairway bunkers to leave me right in the middle of the fairway. I stopped smiling when I got to my ball and realised I'd left myself an awkward short pitch downwind and over the burn to a shallow green.

The views open up a bit on the back nine, and I felt there was more premium on pure ball striking, with more demanding shots. Highlights for me were 11, only 120 yards even from the back tee, Dundonald's answer to the postage stamp has a small green with slopes in all directions and a devilish tiny pot bunker over the back, so deep it needs a staircase down to the sand. 13 is a really attractive links hole with a burn in front of the green. 15 is a demanding par three - 200 yards into the wind.

The final hole is a cracker, a par five tempting you to go for it. I had a favourable wind and launched a great drive, but the burn snaking round the front of the green just looked too risky so I decided that discretion was the better part of valour. It was great to watch the pros try and take this on when the Scottish Open was held here.

When I played it, the course conditioning was immaculate, as good as anywhere. I understand there is a more inclusive green fee policy now, so it may not be possible to maintain perfect conditioning. I've played several Open venues and this course is up there in the same league, it may lack the history and aura but it has the quality.

November 18, 2020
9 / 10
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Alex Hofmann

This is an interesting course, and quite unlike its two neighbours at Glasgow Gailes and Western Gailes. When we played on 3rd October, unfortunately the rain was coming down and it felt distinctly autumnal. The course gets a lot more play than its neighbours and this can be seen on the tees, particularly the par 3s. The back 9 is a lot better than the front 9 and if you have a chance, play off the blue tees, as the whites are very, very short. The fairways are too wide and the greens were slow compared with GG and WG. Once the new clubhouse is finished and the new owners have completed their program of investment, I am sure this course will take its place among the greats of the Ayrshire coast.

October 06, 2020
6 / 10
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jason

A very nice course indeed and a real challenge. Very undulating greens that when the flags are in tough positions are very very tricky. I agree with a previous reviewer that the back nine is better than the front. All the bunkers on the fairways seemed to play a real part and were in prime landing spots, so very well designed for that. Without a doubt worth a visit if you are in the area.

September 21, 2020
8 / 10
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Jim Robertson

Dundonald is not for the faint-hearted - a serious test, The par fives are, without exception, brutal especially the 18th with the burn in front of the green. That is not intended as a criticism rather a caution for those who don't feel their game is in great shape. It features terrain that, unsurprisingly, strongly resembles its near-neighbours Barassie and the two Gailes courses. Dundonald is a very fair layout - everything is in front of you. Hazards abound, notably wonderful pot bunkers and the aforementioned burn that intrudes on several holes. The highlight of the front nine is the spectacularly good par 3 6th with a burn that runs all the way down the left. 8 and 9 are enjoyable short par fours. Most memorable on the back nine are the very short par 3 11th and the excellent 16th with trees on the right .

Dundonald is yet another fine golf course in an area already replete with them.

May 18, 2020
8 / 10
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Peter Handcock

A good course but for me, it's over rated because of the area it is in. Lots of good holes, and worth playing if in the area, just not on the same level as Western Gailes or Troon

April 06, 2020
6 / 10
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