Haggs Castle is a wonderful private member’s course set in mature parkland in the Pollok Estate on the south west side of Glasgow, very close to the city centre. Opened in 1910, the course is laid out on land which belonged to the Maxwell family – other parts of the huge estate have since been turned over by the family to the City Council for the enjoyment of the general population, resulting in the establishment of the Burrell Art Collection within these extensive grounds.
Haggs is the nearest course to the city centre, conveniently accessed by the M8 motorway and it’s hard to believe that the golfer is so close to the centre of the metropolis as he or she plays in such a secluded, woodland setting.
Such is the challenge of the golf course, it has hosted a number of European Tour and Scottish PGA events over the years – Bernhard Langer won the Glasgow Classic in 1983, Ken Brown claimed the Glasgow Open in 1984 with Howard Clark taking the title in 1985.
After a 12-year hiatus from the European Tour calendar, the Scottish Open was hosted at Haggs Castle Golf Club in 1986, won by David Feherty. Bell’s sponsored the event for eight years, but in 1987 the event moved from Glasgow to Gleneagles in Perthshire, where the tournament remained until 1994.
The course was originally made up of nine holes which were located between the railway and Dumbreck Road. These were added to later on when another nine holes were routed through woodland further into the estate. During the 1990s, holes 4, 5 and 9 to 12 were lost due to a nearby motorway development and new holes, designed by Dave Thomas, were introduced to compensate for this.
The 9th, a 406-yard par four, is right doglegged and it’s called “Roon the Bend”. It’s the hardest hole on the card for the front nine. The advice here is to think position. The tee shot should be aimed at the lone tree in the left of the fairway to leave a mid to long iron to the green. The approach to the putting surface must not be left, as it will end up in one of the bunkers at the foot of a steep slope.
The 426-yard par four 14th is a dogleg left titled “The Avenue” and it’s the signature hole at Haggs Castle. The drive has to be a minimum of 230 yards to the centre of the fairway. The second shot is played down a chute of trees to a well-protected two-tiered green. Beware though, if the tee shot is left from the tee or the approach shot is offline, you may well end up in the trees.
Haggs is a lush, mature parkland course, laid out conveniently close to Glasgow city centre, allowing workers to nip straight onto the 1st tee on the way home but it never really got my pulse racing, I’m afraid. I didn’t anticipate any of the pleasant elevation changes that I encountered as I had imagined the course to be pretty flat so that was a bonus.
I was also surprised by the number of dog legs in the design, adding a degree or two of difficulty to the round but overall I was left feeling slightly underwhelmed after playing here.
Only three of the fourteen par fours are in excess of 400 yards so its easy to see why the overall yardage from the regular tees is a touch under 6,000 yards – though the course played longer when I played due to the amount of rain that fell that day.
One of the best holes on the front nine is the 9th, named “Roon the Bend,” which has a tree in the middle of the fairway whilst stroke index 1 on the card is “The Avenue,” the left doglegged 14th hole, with trees on either side of the narrow fairway protecting the approach shot to the green.
A decent member club course worth playing if you are a visitor to the city with some spare time to kill at the end of a business trip.