Renfrew Golf Club was established in 1894 when the club’s original course was located between Renfrew and Govan on the Elderslie estate. An offer to purchase the property by a private housing company was made in the late 1960s and so the club relocated to its present site, reopening in 1973.
The present lush parkland course was designed by Commander John Harris – who also laid out the course at Dougalston in Milngavie, on the other side of the Clyde – with tree-lined holes routed across rather flat terrain on a property bounded on two sides by the River Cart and the River Clyde.
Several of the fairways lie directly under the main flightpath into nearby Glasgow airport so the noise of overhead aircraft on final approach can be a little distracting for golfers who play the course for the first time.
Renfrew’s greatest strength is its long, testing par four holes so it helps if you’re a big hitter who can keep the ball in play on the short grass. Even the par three holes are demanding, with the first on the card at the 3rd measuring 215 yards from the back tees.This hole is followed immediately by three long par fours – all measuring in excess of 420 yards – so you know early on what you’re in for when you play here. On the back nine, there’s a little respite to be had at the short par four 12th on the back nine but the inward half concludes with another trio of punishing par fours that may make or break a good score on this testing track.
Renfrewshire certainly has "strength in depth" (to use a phrase beloved by football managers) if Renfrew is the 9th best course in the district. I am not normally a fan of flat parkland courses but Renfrew is elevated beyond that by its excellent middle section. Holes 6,7,8 and 11 have either the river Clyde or Cart as your companion as they roll along beside fairways. Throw in a couple of holes with ponds to negotiate (10 and 12) and you have six holes that stay in the memory. Coming off the fine 18th at Renfrew I always find myself looking forward to returning.
Long and lush are words that immediately spring to mind when describing the course at Renfrew. Mature trees, enormous bunkers and a rather flat landscape are other characteristics of a layout that has never got my pulse racing when I’ve played here.
The tone is set early on with three long par fours running parallel to each other, the last of which is bounded on the right hand side by the River Clyde. The par three 7th plays into the corner of the property, where the River Cart flows into the Clyde before the routing brings the front nine back to the clubhouse via the doglegged par five 9th.
I hate the pond in front of the green at the par three 10th as the brickwork round the edges are so stark and so contrived, with no attempt having been made to soften the water feature and give it a more natural look.
From there, the fairways go back and forwards, culminating in three long, demanding par fours that will certainly test your stamina and endurance. I know the course has been used for regional Open Qualifying in recent years, which proves that it’s a decent track but it’s not one that I care to play too often, despite it being the closest 18-holer to my home, as the crow flies.