Dundonald - Ayrshire & Arran - Scotland

Dundonald Links,
Ayr Road,
Gailes,
Irvine,
KA11 5BF,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1294 314000


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Dundonald

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 Links European Tour First Qualifying Stage Sept 2010 - photo by Doug

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.

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Reviews for Dundonald

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Description: 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 bought the course in 2003 and commissioned Kyle Phillips to finish the design. Rating: 7.8 out of 10 Reviews: 44
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Martin Jordan
Dundonald 6th - photo by MPPJDundonald, truth be told, has me in a reviewing quandary. It is, in my opinion, a course of two distinct 9’s with the back 9 being a lot stronger and better than the outward half. Infact, whilst playing the front 9 I was constantly wondering what all the fuss was about. Maybe I was expecting too much because it is Loch Lomond’s sibling, I found it featureless (with the exception of the glorious short sixth) and overlong, a homage if you like to combating modern golfing technology, a bit dull, but it also has to be said, very challenging. This apathy lifted from the 11th tee until the last putt as the last 8 holes saw Dundonald turn from an ugly duckling to a striking swan.

 I could go on at length about each of these holes but I would like to single out 3. The aforementioned 11th which is Dundonald's answer to the postage stamp. A seemingly innocuous 120 yard one shoter but don’t be fooled and don’t be long as a crafty coffin bunker awaits over hits making par from here neigh on impossible. The 17th is a tricky dog-legged par 4 with more strategic bunkers than you can shake a stick at and the 18th, a par 5 with a do or die 3rd shot over a burn which serpentines the green should you chose to take it on. So, in the end, despite my misgivings, Dundonald won me around. I still think that it is a course which will suit big hitters better but it is worth playing for the last 8 holes alone. If I have to enter the Dundonald/Kingsbarns debate then my vote must definitely goes to Fife as Kingsbarns, due to its location has something that Dundonald can never have. That being said I can see both sides of the argument but one thing that can’t be argued is that Dundonald is a quality track which eventually captured my curmudgeon heart. MPPJ
March 17, 2009
8 / 10
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Jim McCann

It was just over three years since I first played here when I took advantage of Dundonald’s very generous winter 2008/9 tee time offer and gave myself the chance to reacquaint myself with the course. I agree with others that the man made dunes look a wee bit artificial in places, but maybe only because they were quite bare on a late February morning and will look better when grasses grow back in the spring.

I also agree with other reviewers that a) this track is tougher than Kingsbarns (especially when the par fives on the front nine are played into the prevailing wind), b) it sometimes feels more about length (even from the member tees) than strategy on the way round and c) the 4th hole is the only one of the par threes that doesn’t quite hit the spot the way the others do.

Dundonald Links - photo by Jim McCann Holes 3 and 9 with water cutting across the fairways are memorable on the front nine but the round really comes to life on the back nine, starting at the par three 11th. From this point on, holes just get stronger and stronger, finishing with a very tough trio that play to stroke index 1, 7 and 5!

After nominating Dundonald as a gem back in November 2005, I can confirm that a couple of concerns then have since been sorted – the drainage of some fairways here is no longer an issue as every single one played to a true, free-draining links standard and the new course yardage book now correctly gives notice of the water hazards at holes 6, 9, 13 and 18 – proving just how responsive to Top100 criticism the nice people at Loch Lomond Golf Club can be!

Jim McCann

February 20, 2009
8 / 10
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Colin Baird
November 06, 2009
With reference to Jim McCann's review: The ditches depicted in the Pro-Guide yardage book were indeed ditches in 2005. But they were dry and simply topographical features. They were neither classified nor marked as hazards. The designation as "WATER HAZARD" is a matter of local rules and did not apply in 2005. Water was introduced into them over the winter of 2005/2006. They have subsequently been designated as hazards in the local rules. All of this was recorded and amended at the earliest opportunity in our regular course review of Dundonald. It was nothing to do with Jim's review or any request from Dundonald (they know that we take care of these matters for them). It is an unfortunate fact that when a course is altered (usually during winter months) the revisions to a course guide have to appear after the work is finished. At Pro-Guide we pride ourselves in continuously updating our guides (several times a year in some cases - 3 times at Dundonald in 2009) unlike most of our competitors whose guides, printed in huge volumes, often languish for years on the counters full of obsolete information and detail. It was Jim's bad luck that he visited Dundonald in the small window between the course modifications and our revision. Colin Baird Chief Course Surveyor and Publishing Director Pro-Guide
Robert Gardner
Dundonald Links Played 13 May 2008 If Kyle Phillips was trying to deliver the essence of a true links course, then for my money he created something much closer to it here than he did at Kingsbarns. I’m told that a lot of earth and sand were moved to create the final layout but the end result is a much more natural looking and superb series of testing holes that require the combination of length, accuracy, finesse and intelligent play that are the hallmarks of great links golf. (Unfortunately I didn’t bring that game with me!) The long par 5 eighteenth is a cracking example of what I mean and must be one of the best finishing holes in golf. The very welcoming and efficient staff and our knowledgeable caddies made it a fantastic experience. It’s not as pretty as Kingsbarns but it’s a better golf course and from that perspective should be rated more highly. Visit it if you can. Dundonald Links has only been open 5 years and I’ll certainly be back because as it matures it will just get better and better.
May 15, 2008
10 / 10
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Allan
November 23, 2008
It is a fantastic links layout which is very natural in feel. The greens are beautifully undulating and challenging, and your strategy on each hole is tested by the meandering burn that winds through the course. Kyle Phillips has truly performed a miracle with this design. The facilities and welcome are also first class!
lodgeboy
A fantastic layout with wonderful staff.
December 31, 2007
10 / 10
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allan mcmillan
It's definitely a challenge and a good addition to the great links golf courses of Ayrshire.Obviously it's not as natural as the neighbouring Gailes courses, but give it time and it will mature into a winner.
December 29, 2007
6 / 10
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colin
Same designer as Kingsbarns, same flaws. Worse setting. Actually it's a tougher test than Kingsbarns, and has its moments, but the problems are the same. Over-sized, over sloped greens and a feeling that the whole place is manufactured. Which it is. The par threes are excellent, the bland 4th aside. The 10th and 16th are tough par fours, and the par fives aren't bad. But the over-riding feeling is of the artificiality of the place. The mounds detract from the place. I feel that when designing the course, the architects have been afraid of the admittedly ugly paper mill inland. But in blocking off views with these unnatural 'dunes' they have missed out on some potentially fine views over Western Gailes and out to sea. The lack of any raised tees also restricts the views of the holes themselves. Think of the 7th at Royal Troon, industrial buildings and the airport behind but what a hole! all because the tee has height. Actually, if you want to see what good design is, just go to Royal Troon. If you can't afford there, try any of the other courses, such as Western or Glasgow Gailes, that are better than here.
July 18, 2007
4 / 10
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G McLaughlane
October 12, 2009
Somewhat unfair criticism as you can see neither Western Gailes (apart from the clubhouse)nor the sea due to the Glasgow-Ayr railway line which intervenes on a high embankment for the full length of the course, totally blocking off the suggested views.
cc
March 23, 2010
The embankment is not along the whole course but only parallel with the 13th. And even here, if you stand on the mounds behind the tee or green you have the height to see over to the ocean. You get decent views fom the 12th, the only hole on the course where the artificial 'dunes' are missing from the sides of the hole, and where the golf is played over undulations rather than through them.
C J Y Lawrence
November 19, 2013
If you all want sea-views then Dunbar is the place. The East Links is the Pebble Beach of Scotland with the sea visible from all 18 holes and 8 holes that border the shoreline...and it's a final qualifying track when The Open is in town! So it's a proper Scottish links course measuring 6,600 yds.
W
If your driver is working well here you should score well. There is very little decision making required from the tee, it is driver pretty much all the way. With that in mind (and in spite of the fact that my driver was working and the scoring was good!) this course doesn't get into my top 50. I prefer to stand on a teebox and think about the best way to play the hole ahead. Simply, I prefer strategy and variety over pure 100% ‘Boom’ and other than an excellent set of Par 3s, from the tee the holes felt a bit samey with bulldozed earth banking down either side of the wide fairways.

Credit is warranted as the layout is clever and manages to keep the paperpulp factory pretty much out of the line of vision.. No mean feat for which some praise is deserved! But the course is a modern one and with the exception of a couple of original bunkers from an older Dundonald incarnation, this course feels like it has been built for the corporate (and possibly in time, for a professional tournament) market rather than as a classic links. On this stretch of coast and within a few miles, I can think of at least 5 courses I would rather play, but then perhaps there was never an intention to create a traditional links challenge. Why try and build a classic links in an area where nature has already produced some of the worlds finest!? Dundonald is a bit different, but it feels unnatural and at least as far as I am concerned, and there are many wonderful examples in the UK, a links needs to look and feel natural to the landscape. As yet, Dundonald does not but perhaps it will mature.

Loch Lomond has thrown some serious money at this course and the transformation is staggering with special mention for the drainage which at times during development was a real problem. But the bulldozer’s work is apparent and the manufactured undulations of the greens could be classified as tricked-up. The lack of pace was possibly intentional as an acceleration of Stimp could cause serious problems here for anyone! That said, I really enjoyed a game at Dundonald and it was a treat to experience the Loch Lomond service and hospitality which is absolutely faultless.

This was a fun round on a good golf course which was definitely worth playing, but if visiting the area, the rankings are probably about right. Good enough, but geography dictates that you will always compare Dundonald to its neighbours and right now this is not as good as Western Gailes, Barassie or Glasgow Gailes which are all within hitting distance.
May 31, 2007
6 / 10
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stewart
Kyle Philips did a great job and probably moved a significant amount of earth in creating this course and making it as good as it is on a plot of land that wasn’t as well suited for a fine golf course as that of its famous neighbors. I think many of the sand dunes and mounds were made rather than found, although to Philips’ credit they give the appearance of being natural. In reading the history of Western Gailes I found a section that indicates that in the middle part of the last century there was a course on these premises called Dundonald, so this appears to be the third attempt to have a golf club here and the third time is the charm. I agree with the prior posters that the par threes are outstanding…interesting, tough, and different from one another. The 11th is postage stamp short with danger front and back and a steeply sloping green, while 15 is long (up to 215 yds) with deep bunkering in front and it played even longer with an elevated green and wind in my face. The temporary clubhouse is nicer than you would expect and the guys in the pro shop were very friendly, entertaining me until the end of a morning frost delay.
April 08, 2007
8 / 10
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scott thomson
Was met at gate by smiley pleasent gent welcoming us to dundonald,this was only a start of what turned out to be a very special day in outstanding golf country,Haveing played many links courses from the new course to eyemouth and many in between we singled this out up there with the best of them,Course was in outstanding condition with true rolling greens and a spring still in the fairways even after the monsoon two days before we played ,Every hole is so individual with a touch of its own class .. I walked off the 18th green with a smile that nothing could have shifted ,i had just played a trully special course,from the first hole to the last every hole has been created with its own test of golf,bring all your clubs in the bag cause your going to need every one of them to tame this legend in the making.
November 12, 2006
10 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
I agree with a lot of what Jim has written on his GEM recommendation - on maturity all links lovers will love this course. When you play here, there is no mistaking the designer … with the enormous undulating greens, Kyle Phillips touch is so evident (similarities to Kingsbarns and The Grove are obvious, nothing wrong with that at all). The Loch Lomond service is pure pleasure – enjoy millionaires golf at Dundonald, right from the off (valet parking, pyramid of balls waiting at the range, soup after nine holes and shoe cleaning at the end). This good golf course will soon become very good – enjoyed the hole variety immensely. The 3rd is cracking par-5 and the 11th is a tough par-3 (very tough in the wind).
April 15, 2006
6 / 10
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