This continuous stretch of land that courts the west coast of Scotland offers a delectable concoction of solid links courses of which Dundonald was the last I had the pleasure of sampling. The immediate vicinity presents an additional three courses all considered to be in Scotland’s top 50, so the competition is indeed profuse. I would deem Glasgow Gailes and Barassie to be overrated, with Western Gailes providing nothing short of heavyweight competition.
Inevitably we have the Loch Lomond brand and dynamism of Kevin Gyle competing against the established tradition and natural wonder of Western Gailes. Off the record, we were informed that the owners are trying to sell the Dundonald. It’s no secret that Loch Lomond is struggling financially and it is likely that they are trying to offload what is considered to be the member’s winter course. Read what you will into these rumours and stories but if the outcome is a £30 green fee (applicable Monday to Friday for post 15:00 tee times) then you won’t catch me complaining.
The course itself is a delight to play. Previous complaints about immaturity can be dismissed as you would never now that Dundonald is a relatively young course. It plays like a dream and seems to naturally unfold as you meander through the fairways and surrounding dunes. The greens are of exceptional quality and struck me as being extremely versatile. The pin positions were rather conservative during my visit but the potential to crank it up a notch was more than evident given the complexity of many of the greens.
You cannot review Dundonal without mentioning the bunkers as it presents some of the fiercest, cavernous, gaping black holes that I have ever come across. Truly daunting and wickedly located. There is a plentiful abundance of potential to hold a EPGA event on this links. Contrary to what some may suggest there is nothing overly contrived about Dundonald. Granted it does not have the sea views of Western Gailes that seem to augment the organic experience but it does not play or feel like a manufactured links.
There are plenty of memorable holes with three of the four par 3’s being of exceptional quality. The 6th. 11th and 16th demand the type of shot that makes me play this beautiful game. As you stand on these Tee’s you are presented with a jaw droopingly inviting shot full of risk and reward. Exactly what a par 3 should offer. I all too easily fell into the trap of grabbing the driver out of the bag and blasting into the unknown when faced with the unfamiliar. There is far more to this course thatn meets the eye and in retrospect I wish I had thought a touch more strategically from the tee and I may of kept the ball in play and carded a half decent score. It’s tough in parts with the back 9 being much harder. I didn’t play anywhere near my handicap but still cannot wait to return. Given time this course will close the perceived gap between its alleged more illustrious neighbour and it will certainly rise up this top 100 list.
Date: July 22, 2010