Dundonald is rightfully becoming yet another great course on the Ayrshire coast. It's closest neighbour, Western Gailes is a measure of the very best in the area and this relatively new layout (separated by the railway line), has a youthful maturity exemplified by its testing championship design as well the attention and effort that goes into developing greens and fairways that in time will match any of the great links. We played Western Gailes and Dundonald the same day and you inevitably find yourself drawing comparisons. Whilst Western Gailes has been established for over a 100 years and boasts the coastline vantage point, Dundonald does have 18 holes to rival, if not eclipse the challenge of its neighbour. Some of what Dundonald has created is man made, but the creation of dunes, raised and contoured greens with spectacular bunkering held great interest for the whole round.
The short holes are an excellent mix and it is worth highlighting the 15th - A long carry with a fearsome greenside bunker located deep beneath the raised putting surface. This would grace any open championship track and would be the potential "card wrecker" for any great score coming in. The shortest of the par 3's are the 7th and the 11th. Both are well protected, but the 11th plays straight into the wind (as you head toward the sea). Taking a wedge and lobbing It high in the air is not the shot, but from a tee not much more than a100yards it is hard to tell yourself to do any different!! As you head down the 12th you only see glimpses of the sea, however what the Gailes loses and Dundonald gains is its abundance of pine trees which provide an attractive routing and backdrop to many of the holes. A number of par 4's and 5's are framed beautifully and are toughened by the meandering burn which is a feature of the course. The 2nd, 9th, 14th and 16th capture the pleasure of pine mixed with links with clever use of bunkering along the fairways and around the greens.
As a course we were left feeling that Dundonald rightly commands its place in the Top 100 and compliments the traditional Western Gailes experience. The staff at Dundonald made us feel very welcome and as a package it should be on your play list when visiting the west coast of Scotland. Ian Henley
Date: July 07, 2010