Irvine, with its 16 par4s and 2 par3s and 6152 yards from the yellow tee boxes, ably demonstrates the remarkable strength and depth of traditional Scottish golf. The course opened for play in1887 and is located on a piece of land lovingly known as Bogside, about half a mile inland from the Ayrshire Coast.
There are many fascinating holes on this inspiring course that has often been used for Final Qualifying for The Open when it has been held just down the road at Troon or Turnberry. The fairways are smooth and fast-running as are the excellent greens giving the course a strong linksy feel. Generally the upkeep is good although some of the bunkers are a bit untidy.
After a warm welcome, we started the round, with two tough par 4s averaging 425 yards from the tee, and from there the golfer gets one surprise after another. The short third has a devilishly difficult pitch shot to a sloping green whereas the best approach to the raised pimple of a green at 4 is almost to slightly over hit it and bounce the ball off the boundary wall to the adjoining railway line onto the putting green. The uniquely memorable nature of the holes continues at 5 with a blind pitch over a huge bunker to a hidden green, and 6 which is stroke index 1 and after a blind uphill drive requires a long downhill second shot to a distant green. And so the fun continues with only the two par3s offering a brief respite and more regular challenges, as the back nine almost maintains the glorious roller-coaster ride of the front.
There are perhaps too many blind shots, both from the tee and to the putting surfaces, for the more discerning golfer, but although some of the carries are long, the fairways are wide.
Irvine is a great challenge and offers endless enjoyment. This is a course that should be high up the list of every well-travelled golfer’s itinerary.
Date: June 26, 2021