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.
Today was my fourth game at Dundonald and I must confess that I’d never really paid too much attention to the green sites or their contours in my previous visits. Not so today as I was struck by the really tough pin position on the very first hole, as this got me wondering where else could the hole have been cut to make it any more difficult! And it was only as the round progressed that I came to fully appreciate how challenging many of the putting surfaces were.
It might be less than a week to Christmas and we’ve had some horrendously bad weather in recent days but – apart from large puddles on the fairways at holes 10 and 15 and casual water in many of the bunkers, to be fair – the course was in remarkable condition. Greens, in particular, were of a standard that many a club would be proud to boast of at the high of their summer season.
The front nine grows on me the more I play it (although the par three 4th remains the weakest hole by far on this loop), and it ends with a terrific par four played to a shallow green that sits behind a sneaky wee burn.
The short par four 12th is another fine two-shot hole where the severely rumpled fairway leads to an elevated green that was framed this morning by the snow-covered mountains of Arran across the Firth of Clyde – what a bonnie sight!
Over the last couple of years, Dundonald seems to have opened its doors to a more inclusive golfing clientele through its promotion of reasonably priced green fees so fair play to the club for charging sensible sums of money for what is clearly a superior links product, even in the middle of winter.
I agree with most of the writers observations. The course did set up well for the Ladies Scottish Open, and will host the Men's next year, when we will see the back tees come into their own, setting a stiff challenge for the professionals.