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Glasgow (Gailes Links)

Glasgow (Gailes Links)

Irvine, Scotland
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Gary Lisbon
Gary Lisbon
Irvine, Scotland

“As one approaches Prestwick,” wrote Bernard Darwin, in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, “the train seems to be voyaging through one endless and continuous golf course – Gailes, Barassie, Bogside – I write them down pell-mell as they come into my head – Prestwick, St Nicholas, St. Cuthbert, Troon, and several more beside.” Add Turnberry, to Darwin’s list, and you can see why this prodigious stretch of Ayrshire coastline is so special. Glasgow Gailes, and Western Gailes, its next-door neighbour, are the northernmost of these exceptional links.

Glasgow Gailes Links is home to the Glasgow Golf Club, founded in 1787 and the 10th oldest golf club in the world. In those days, golf was played some 30 miles away, in Glasgow City. It was surely an absolute joy for the members when the Gailes course opened for play in 1892 – at last, no more muddy, parkland golf. The opening of Gailes made Glasgow Golf Club unique, with two courses, 30 miles apart. Willie Fernie originally designed the course, but Willie Park Junior revised the layout in 1912.

GalleryGary Lisbon
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Gary Lisbon

Glasgow Gailes is a classic links. “The turf is something softer – at least in my imagination – than that of the East Coast courses,” wrote Darwin, “and the greens are wonderfully green and velvety.” There is no doubt that the turf ensures tireless play, and it’s just as well, because there are plenty of courses to play on the West Coast.

Notorious for its whin (gorse) and heather-lined fairways, Glasgow Gailes is a tough cookie. It’s a final qualifying course when the Open is at either Turnberry, or Troon. Needless to say, it tests the very best professionals.

Many of the holes are fraught with danger, with out-of-bounds lurking beyond the railway line and the perimeter of the course. Straight and solid driving is required to card a good score. Beware of the wind – it can be a serious hazard.

Glasgow Gailes is kept out of the limelight by the other legendary links courses situated along this stretch of coastline. But you will be hard-pressed to find a better unsung layout than Glasgow Gailes Links. It really should be included on any must-play list – it’s a genuine test and was host to Open Championship Final Qualifying from 2014 to 2017.


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