Ranfurly Castle lies to the western edge of the large village of Bridge of Weir, which prospered in the 18th and 19th centuries thanks to cotton mills and tanneries. Considering its close proximity to Glasgow, Ranfurly Castle Golf Club remains relatively undiscovered, except to those in the know.
Willie Campbell laid out the club’s original 9-hole course then, after moving to its present location in 1905, Andrew Kirkcaldy established the club’s new 18-hole layout. James Braid made some alterations in 1923, seven years before six new holes were introduced, following the purchase of 48 acres of additional land.
Its hilly moorland aspect provides a great sense of adventure and escape. This course really should be better known. In 2003, the club hosted the £10,000 Tartan Golf International Trainees Matchplay Championship, which commenced with an 18-hole pro-am with one of the amateurs in each team being under the age of 14.
The opening two holes at Ranfurly Castle take you steeply uphill to a high moorland plateau where the views open up. Fourteen holes play on top of the moor before the closing two holes bring you back down to the sanctuary of the clubhouse. Measuring less than 6,300 yards, Ranfurly Castle is not a slog, but when the wind blows – as it so often does on the top – it presents a stern challenge. With just one par five and only three par threes, scoring well on this par 70 course is not as easy as it first appears.
Ranfurly Castle is often bracketed alongside Gleneagles and certainly there is a hint of elements of both the Queen’s and King’s courses, but Ranfurly Castle is much less contrived and it’s much quieter too. It’s certainly a gem if ever there was one and it’s also great value. Well worth a visit… but beware of the wicked, slick greens.