Largs Golf Club was established in 1891, with Willie Campbell setting out a 9-hole course for the founding members. This layout lasted only a very short time however. Within two years of its formation, the club moved to its present home within the Kelburn Estate, the ancestral home of the Earls of Glasgow.
The original 9-hole layout lasted exactly sixty years until Viscount Kelburn officially opened an expanded 18-hole course in 1953. It’s thought that green staff, under the direction of people like John McKeller and Bob Torrance, laid out the new holes close to Kelburn Castle.
Today, the opening four holes and closing three holes now occupy a narrow corridor running alongside the main road (where the original 9-hole course was set out), with holes 5 to 15 routed around the more expansive portion of the property.
The modern day course measures a respectable 6,150 yards from the medal tees and, with only two par fives on the card (at “Killincraig,” the 466-yard 3rd and “Pencil,” the 490-yard 12th), it plays to a par of 70.
Notable holes include the par four 6th (“Castle”) which doglegs left to the green, and the par three 8th (“Spittleflat”) - the third short hole on the front nine - where a small green is surrounded by five bunkers.On the inward half, the 468-yard 15th (“Cockleshells”) starts the run for home and it’s a beast of a long par four. It’s followed by another three stout par fours, all of which head in the same direction towards the clubhouse, so pray that the prevailing headwind is not up if you have a good score going.
Granted, very few golfers come to Ayrshire to play parkland golf but were they to do so they would likely find their way just a mile or so from the Firth of Clyde to Largs (Kelburne). Like Crieff and Carnwath the round begins with a lacklustre uphill par three. However, compensation arrives immediately when you board the 2nd tee to be met with a downhill drive to a fairway lined with mature trees. The 3rd offers something similar with the added ingredient of a burn running across the fairway. The best two holes on the course come at 9 and 10 - two excellent doglegs with what is more than a burn but not quite a river guarding the green at both. The rest of the holes lack distinction although the 17th with its elevated green is attractive. The weakest feature of Largs is a set of undistinguished par threes but the course is worth a visit.
A round at Largs begins rather inauspiciously with a short uphill par three. The next three holes then head downhill to the main part of the estate, where holes 5 to 15 are located, with the elevated tee shot at the 2nd rather memorable as Largs marina forms the backdrop to this par four – more Costa Clyde than Cote d’Azur, even when the sun shines, but it’s an impressive hole nonetheless.
For me the best hole on the front nine is the left doglegged 9th, played slightly uphill to a green that sits on the other side of a burn and it’s immediately followed by another cracking par four that heads back towards the coast, doglegging back over the same burn to a plateau green on top of a pronounced ridge.
The long par four 15th is a tough way to round off the course within the Kelburn estate before crossing the lane to take on the final three uphill holes which are normally played into the wind.
In a region that’s not short of fine links courses, Largs is a well-manicured parkland alternative that will appeal to golfers who might not always hanker for the firm and fast game beside the sea.
Cmon Jim boy! Largs deserves a '5' rating if some of the others on your Ayrshire list merit that score. Surely? rated below Rowallan? I think not!