The East Renfrewshire Golf Club, or ‘East Ren’ as it is known was established in 1922 and the great James Braid designed the course. Not much has changed since, with the exception of slight lengthening to the current 6,100-yard par 70 challenge.
Braid was unable to supervise the course being built because of his golf club duties at Walton Heath so Tom Dobson, the first greenkeeper and professional at East Ren, ensured that Braid’s plans were adhered to by the construction crew.
The usual Braid traits are evident, high tees, rolling fairways and greens set upon plateaux. All the holes are refreshingly different and this is a delightful example of moorland golf at the top end of the category.
There are some stunning views across to Glasgow and the Clyde and, with the course perched at 500 feet above sea level, the wind is a huge factor with club selection. If you play East Renfrewshire every day for one week, expect to use a different club for the same length of shot each day.
Many holes are worthy of a mention but our favourite is the 18th – a long par four with a burn to the left and splitting the fairway. Bunkers and another burn protect the green, which is set next to the clubhouse. East Renfrewshire is certainly tough, but it's also fair.
For those of us who used to take the old main road out of Glasgow to Ayrshire to play links golf on the west coast, the entrance to East Ren on the outskirts of Glasgow was passed with hardly a second glance. And now that the motorway has been built to bypass the course, there is even less chance of the club picking up casual “passing trade” – which is a real pity as this Braid gem deserves to be played by more than just the membership.
When I played today, the course was in immaculate order with pristine tee boxes, surprisingly well drained fairways and well paced, smooth putting surfaces. The course routing was exceptional – as might be expected of a Braid creation – and holes flowed beautifully from one to the next with wonderful use of the changes in undulation high up on the moor.
A particularly pleasing trio of holes came at the start of the back nine, beginning with “Clouthie’s Howe,” the visually stunning short par four 10th which was followed by a beast of an uphill, 214 yard par three called “Brae Shouther” before playing the difficult (stroke index 2) 12th hole.
Elevated tees, raised greens, burns and blind shots – East Ren has them all to add interest throughout your round. It is a much under rated moorland course with a fine modernised clubhouse which obviously caters for the more discerning golfer on the south side of the city.