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 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. The new owners intend to build a
clubhouse and will continue to allow playing rights for Loch
Lomond members at the links.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Dundonald was up to recently the second course to Loch Lomond who wanted a playable course for its members though the wet Scottish winters. It has hosted some big tournaments from European Tour PQ to both Mens and Ladies Scottish Opens. Dundonald is set upon some relatively flat terrain and Kyle Phillips carried out a decent job when designing the course. The front 9 holes are ok but personally I preferred the back 9. There are a few memorable holes such as 11 a fun short par three which has a raised green and bunkers guarding the entrance. Hole 13 which runs alongside the railway has a brook guarding the the entrance to the green…this will catch the miss hit approach shot. The green itself is no pushover with a huge tier running through it. The 18th is strong par 5 which demands accuracy and length off the tee to give the player any chance of reaching this well protected green in two. All in all there are better and more interesting courses in the area but you will be disappointed with a day out at Dundonald.
Dundonald Links offers a bit of everything you can expect from a links course except ... short Par 4. Played in July 2019, the course offered a very nice set up.
However, the club house looks very cheap as well of most of the facilities.
I can not really remember of any signature hole except maybe the Par 5 - 18th. I've been quite disapointed and would recommand to play Western Gailes instead if you visit the area.
Dundonald ranges in length from 6340 to 7100 yards. As one of our group was experiencing a bad back, we played the 6340 tees although I did walk back to the back tees on every hole. My score likely would have been the same from the 6725 yardage, which is where I wanted to play, Having said that, there are only significant differences on six holes: 8, 9, 10, 15 16 and 18.
Dundonald is on a flat piece of land and it is a fun golf course to play. It will not beat you up unless you play from the back tees as the fairways on some of the holes get narrower. I thought the strength of the golf course lies in the par 3's although none were truly special. The fourth and ofare the best of those par 3's.
I liked the routing of the holes as it moves around in all directions with 1-4 out and back, 5-8 playing in a "inner" circle, and then playing in an outer circle of almost a figure eight in reverse.
The one element I did not like was the false burns with railroad ties. I just did not understand why.
For me the best holes were 3, 4, 6, 14 and 16.
The greens are very different depending on the hole which is something I appreciate; some raised, some level, some with many tiers, some well bunkered, some not well bunkered.
In addition, there is a good mixture of long and short holes, and a good mixture of straight and dogleg holes.
There is a lot to like at Dundonald and it serves as a nice second course for the members of Loch Lomond. I would not say it is a course one to should go out of their way to play, but the service is very good and the golf course is very enjoyable to play.
I played this course from the blue tees (over 6500 yds) in windy, dry conditions. The course was being prepared for The Scottish Open, and was in superb condition. The fairways were firm and the greens were fast and tricky, with some difficult pin positions especially on the par 3's.
The golfing challenge is stiff but fair, and you need to put the ball into the right areas for a good approach to the large undulating greens. My favourite holes at Dundonald are 1, 6, 11, 12 and 16 - though all 18 are well designed by Kyle Philips. I would strongly recommend that you visit and play this excellent links course.
A truly lovely spot to play the game of Golf. Wonderfully laid out with super fast fairways and great greens (usual for this part of Scotland).
A shame that the sea isn't overly visible or in play, but that doesn't detract from a superb experience all round. Highly recommend a visit.