According to the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses by John F Moreton and Iain Cumming, the course at Hayston Golf Club came about because the nearby town of Kirkintilloch (which had once boasted fourteen public houses) was declared “dry” in a local veto poll in 1920, closing all the drinking establishments within the town.
The book explains: “One of golf’s happy traditions is the playing of the 19th, where suitable refreshment encourages golfers to discuss the virtues and vicissitudes of their rounds and those of their opponents. The gentlemen of the club then known as Kirkintilloch Golf Club were denied this sacred ritual”.
To overcome the prohibition restrictions, it was decided to acquire land at Hayston Farm, lay out a new course, erect a new clubhouse – one that would be able to dispense the demon drink, of course – and form a new club called Hayston Golf Club. It took six years for all this to happen but eventually, in 1926, members were able to play on a course laid out by James Braid.
The authors continue: “Braid’s connection does not end there. The course was ploughed up in World War II and he returned in 1946 to restore it… Braid appears to have paid fairly frequent visits to advise on bunkering and other matters and clearly had a deep affection for the course, as the club still has for James Braid.”Today, the course measures a shade over 6,000 yards from the back markers and it plays to a par of 70. A couple of short par fours (“Carlston” at the 3rd and “Ower the Tap” at the 12th) offer decent birdie opportunities whilst three of the five testing par threes on the card are played on the back nine at the 165-yard 14th, 232-yard 15th and 145-yard 18th.
There are few courses I would be reluctant to revisit but Hayston is one of them. It consists of a succession of long par fours,almost all of which are uphill. I am sure that young bucks who can hit the ball a long way are not fazed by this but for a distinctly average older golfer like myself. Hayston is just a long slog. There is not even the compensation of scenic views. I would say that there are a couple of nice par threes here and the 18th is good fun. But Hayston is not for me.
You have to be on your game right from the off at Hayston at it begins with a long, testing par four, played uphill to a plateau green, followed by a demanding, arrow-straight par five into the south west corner of the course. A sluggish start here may well upset the rest of your round, as has happened on the two occasions I’ve played here.
There’s a little respite at the short par four 3rd, before the challenge resumes at the all-carry short par three 4th and 340-yard 5th, where the green is benched into a left to right slope. Holes 6 to 13 largely occupy the centre of the course, several of the par fours running parallel to each other, before back-to-back par threes at holes 14 and 15 signal a change of pace.
The first of these holes plays from an elevated tee position to a sand-protected green whilst the second is a beast of a long par three, its fairway crossing the 3rd hole on the way to an elevated green that’s shared with the 11th hole.
Beware the 16th if playing from the regular tees as it’s a monster 473-yard par four compared to a reasonable 489-yard par five from the medal markers, which is rather unfair. The round ends in something of an anti-climax with a rather weak short par three but overall, Hayston’s a fine test that captivates from start to finish.