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.
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.
In an area steeped in history and tradition Dundonald Links has, in the space of just over ten years, commanded the respect of golfers who flock to this part of Scotland to tackle Open Championship venues and other prestigious links courses.
Wedged between Gailes Links, Kilmarnock Barrasie and Western Gailes, and just up the road from Prestwick, Troon and Turnberry it is testament to the course that is has also gained the appreciation from neighbouring courses as well.
Created in 2003 this is essentially faux links. It has been created by man and manufactured to replicate the natural sandhills and rolling terrain of nearby courses. The man who played God was Kyle Phillips who also has The Grove in Hertfordshire and Kingsbarns in Fife on his United Kingdom CV.
He has done a remarkable job with what was a flat piece of land for Dundonald Links appears to have been there for over a century, certainly to the untrained eye. The shaping of the sandhills and dunes took three years alone and the result is they (almost) look as if nature created them.
Many decades ago the site originally housed Dundonald Golf Club but it fell into disrepair around the time of the two World Wars and eventually returned to wasteland. Then at the turn of the millennium a new course was conceived; Southern Gailes. But before that could open the owners of Loch Lomond Golf Club snapped up the site, appointed Phillips, renamed it Dundonald Links and the rest is history.
There’s not much eye contact with the sea at Dundonald but on this highly playable course, thanks to wide fairways and large greens, you will encounter pine trees around the periphery of the course, small patches of gorse throughout and deadly bunkers. The site is not hilly but offers pure and traditional links golf with plenty of undulations on a course that belies its age.
Dundonald is a course that is maturing well and stands in very good stead for the future.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
Im glad Dundonald has consolidated its position in the Top 100 (only Golf Monthly does not include it). Every hole is strong – my standouts include 1, 5, 10, 11, 14 & 15. The 18 is a worthy last hole.
Removing all the trees, especially to the right of 9 would in my opinion enhance the course bearing in mind that Western Gailes has nabbed the best land in the area and every effort to stress the links nature of the course should be made.
Played with a member and really enjoyed the course depsite not playing too well. As with other courses by same designer it is playable and fair for us mortals and has the wind and tiger tees for the big boys when's you need to toughen it up. Some great holes and some great greens. Well worth a visit.
The 6th is one of the best holes at Dundonald. This lovely par three of 170 yards has a wet ditch running down the left side. Anything pulled left of the ditch will be in long grass. The green is elevated with dunes at the back where there is a small pot bunker.
The run home from the 15th features four very demanding holes. Fifteen is a par three of 215 yards with a gully and then a raised green with several penal bunkers at the front left. Index 1 is the 16th, a long par four of 485 yards. The green is on two levels and has a bunker on each side.
Seventeen doglegs to the left so you need a draw with your drive. The 18th is the longest hole at 585 yards. There are a number of pot bunkers to catch your drive and three cross bunkers are in place for the second shot. A burn runs in front then along the right edge of the green.
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.