When you think of top-flight golf in Ayrshire, you automatically think of the famous links courses running along the coast from Troon to Prestwick and Turnberry. Well, it’s time to think again as the new inland course at Rowallan Castle near Kilmaurs is all set to complement these golfing greats in fine style.
The course is laid out within an historic 600-acre estate that dates back to the 16th century with fairways draped across a gently undulating landscape that incorporates open meadow, wetland and woodland sites. Water also plays a part at a number of holes but never in a dominating, obtrusive fashion.
Designed by Colin Montgomerie with Ross McMurray from European Golf Design, Rowallan Castle is the latest in a burgeoning portfolio for Monty and EGD that now includes the likes of Carton House in Ireland, Royal Golf Club in Bahrain and Montgomerie Maxx Royal in Turkey. With quality projects like these to their name, it’s no surprise to find that Rowallan Castle is another classy track from the same design team.
The three short holes on the outward half (“Ross’s Quarry” at hole 2, “Doctor’s Bend” at hole 5 and “Old Castle” at hole 8) are all contenders for signature hole on the property. The green to the first of these sits behind a lovely wetland area to the right of the hole, the second has a pond lurking to the left of the green and the third requires an elevated tee shot across a shaded valley to a raised green with a stream to the front.
Two holes – the 490-yard par four 11th (“Goat Fell”) and 609-yard par five 16th (”Laird’s Ride”) – are the pick of the holes on the back nine and both dogleg downhill to the left. The former is a formidable two-shotter and the latter will take two mighty blows to get anywhere near a raised green protected by a pond and three enormous bunkers – good luck with getting anything less than a five on this hole.Rather uniquely, Rowallan also boasts a testing par three 19th hole ("The Decider") where informal match play games that are still tied after 18 holes may be decided before proceeding to the more conventional 19th in the modern new clubhouse.
As a member for the last two seasons I feel I need to add a review to this page as many of the reviews are VERY out of date. FIrstly almost all reviews agree that Rowallan is a great track. It’s challenging, interesting and doesn’t have any two holes which are the same.
Playing from blue monster, white, yellow or red tees can feel like you’re playing a different course as each create a completely different strategy to play the course.
So lets get to the elephant on this page....draingage. I have to say that I decided against joining about 5 years ago due to the reports of drainage. Just over two years ago I tried again. I was surprised how much it had improved (deliberately trying after it had rained in the week) and since then I can only praise the greens staff for the differences that have taken place. I’ve been playing all winter and after a lot of rain and the drainage which has been installed has made a major difference, even in the few years I’ve been playing here. The greens are becoming even more spectacular as the land is finally bedding in, as the course enters its 9th year (I think). I’ve been told that a new course takes 10-15 years to bed-in properly. If that’s the case then I think Rowallan has its best years coming soon. It’s improving year on year, membership is fun, friendly and welcoming. Glasshouse restaurant serves some spectacular food and always welcoming. Hopefully, this will welcome some other positive reviews from members and guests alike. I am really looking forward to 2019 with the promises additional of investment from the course owners.