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.

If the above article is inaccurate, please let us know by clicking here

Write a review

Reviews for Dundonald

Average Reviewers Score:
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: 58
TaylorMade
Gavin Thompson

The approach to the clubhouse is slick and well manicured. Entry to the clubhouse is through the pro shop, at this point you’ll be given a welcome that can’t be topped, a great first impression on a truly fabulous golf experience.

The practise facilities are excellent, the clubhouse is incredible, all setting the scene for the golf itself which tops the lot.

On the first you’ll be greeted at the starter box by what’s now, the standard welcome for the resort. Absolutely first class. The first hole sets the scene for the rest of the course. With its undulating fairway’s, challenging rough, green run offs into bunkers twice the height of you and greens that are as quick as an ice rink you immediately realise you’re in for a challenge. The further 17 holes did not disappoint. Each hole seems to get better and more challenging as the round progresses.

This course is a must. Often shadowed by it’s more famous ayrshire neighbours, Dundonald can often be overlooked. Overlooking Dundonald is a mistake, this course and experience is right up there with anything in Scotland has to offer, you will love it.

August 06, 2022
9 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Mats Sandvall

The course was excellent, and the club house and living quarters are just pure world class.

Not to mention the practice areas!

A must stay and play in my opinion.

July 23, 2022
7 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

Javier Pintos

I had been here back in 2012 and 2016 but without playing the course and this time finally I was able to walk the 18 holes on my own on a day that also included Western Gailes in the afternoon. Back in 2016 I just walked a couple of holes and had a drink at the old Club House which has now been totally renewed and added lodges and hotel rooms plus Spa since it was bought by American Investors from Loch Lomond. It is certainly a new era for the club that has been designed by Kyle Phillips and hosted both Scottish Opens for Ladies and Men plus some top amateur events and also final qualifying for The Open.

After a nice welcome to the Club House, which has an amazing restaurant in the first floor, I just piped one on the 1st hole and started my round. The course matched my expectations as it is very good from 1st to 18th but with quite a bunch of highlights during the round. It was in great shape and greens rolled quite quick and with the undulations they have making a putt is not an easy quest.

First hole to details is par 5 3rd where you have a wee burn on the right side which makes the tee shot quite tight and then you have to carry it with the second if going for it, plus a small false front which makes the short pin tough to get close. The other par 5 on the front 9 is excellent, a risk reward one with tough rough on the right side and a slope from right to left green which is hidden to the left when you hit the second. I also liked the short 6th, another small burn on the left side to a very nice green complex.

One of the additions since 2016 is the Half Way House which is nice and charming, made of wood and a nice stop before the back 9.

11th is a very short 3, just 120yds but with big front bunkers, rough all the way (no fairway for a heavy caught shot!) and another very sloped green. 12th and 13rd are the holes closest to Western Gailes Club House, two good 4s with small greens and tight tee shots as well. It was weird than in the four 3s I hit PW twice and 4 iron twice when I faced 15th, another very good green on the closest spot to Glasgow Gailes Golf Club.

16th is a tough beast, woods and OB on the right side and dense mounds on the left, the toughest hole on the course.

And 18th is a very good par 5 to finish with that plaque from where Rafa Cabrera Bello stick it to 8ft from 275 yds to win the Scottish Open some years ago. A very well balanced course, nice holes with tee shots to be hit with both effects, interesting pin positions to be used and a tough test.

19th hole is another highlight, a very nice elevated place with views of 1-9-10-18, the Ocean and Ailsa Craig. It is still new compared to its famous neighbors but its status is going to grow every year. The West Coast has a lot of good golf apart from The Open. And when service level goes that good then the course has to be considered.

July 03, 2022
7 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Phil Ree

I am surprised Dundonald doesn’t split opinion more. It is objectively good but it’s clearly man-made and doesn’t play like the Ayrshire links it claims to. It is the opposite of subtle - there are banks (not dunes) alongside fairways, raised greens with steep fall offs, fairway slopes on steroids and the greens are not exactly links greens. Lots of times I had putts that had to slowly reach the top of a ridge, then charge downhill. I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Grove, which I didn’t particularly enjoy but others do understandably like.

There are certainly more highlights than lowlights, the 12th (middle picture) is a short par 4 that plays towards Arran, and the 17th with three bunkers inside its dogleg stood out. The par 3s are solid and picturesque. I don’t really like a cliched risk-reward par 5 finish though, that has a time and place elsewhere.

I’m interested to see what lies in Dundonald’s future. They are aiming to build even more accommodation, I guess to sell it as a base for Ayrshire trips. From a personal standpoint I’m glad I played Dundonald on my second visit to the area rather than first, and would suggest the same to others. Just across the property lines Western Gailes is in a similar price bracket and superior, whilst Barassie is cheaper and a purer links experience.

May 23, 2022
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
1 person found this review helpful

Oliver Cram

I played Dundonald a number of years ago before the clubhouse was built. The course was in fantastic condition, the lack of a decent clubhouse was one of the only drawback from my trip here. The course is a true links course, lots of penal rough and pot bunkers.

The Scottish Open was played here in 2017 and the Scottish ladies open has also been played 3 times 2015-17, including a rare tournament visit from leading instagram golf influencer Paige Spiranac.

I would be keen to go back now the clubhouse has been built and may give the course a more favourable rating.

March 08, 2022
7 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

George

I played dundonald links on 25/2/22 and the previous day the course was closed because it was covered in snow. 24 hours later I played my round and was amazed at how good the course looked, it was in fantastic condition and the greens ware maybe the best I’ve seen yet absolutely stunning. On my round I got talking to a few of the green keepers all really friendly and knowledgeable about the course. Had a lovely round of golf and enjoyed every minute of it. Great course and will definitely be back in the summer.

February 25, 2022
7 / 10
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

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
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

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
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
4 people found this review helpful

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
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful

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
Reviewer Score:
TaylorMade

Respond to above review
  Was this review helpful?
0 people found this review helpful