- +44 (0) 141 942 2011
20 miles SW of Glasgow
Contact in advance - not weekends am
Willie Fernie, Willie Park Jr.
“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 9th 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.
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 host to Open Championship Final Qualifying from 2014 to 2017.
I played in January 2004 and was suitably impressed with a well presented track (the greens were in great nick) and a smart clubhouse (though the pot holed car park was in need of some serious attention).The club seems to have a winter play policy of roping off sections of fairway, say 50 yards by 50 yards, where drives are expected to land and if your ball lies there you lift and play to the side – eminently sensible, I think, in protecting their turf when allowing play without mats
There was a lot of major irrigation work going on around the course so the club were obviously not sitting back and resting on their Open qualifier status. The clubhouse atmosphere was a tad on the stuffier side – to be expected I suppose when members are mostly Glasgow captains of industry and commerce. The course had a feel very similar to nearby Barassie and like that course, there are no outstanding holes that live in the memory, just an overall impression of a good, above average links.
Incidentally, their 'flip over' scorecard is easily the best I have come across yet – simple, concise and very practical.