Rowallan Castle - Ayrshire & Arran - Scotland

Rowallan Castle Golf Club,
Kilmaurs,
Ayrshire,
KA3 2LP


  • +44 (0) 1563 530550

  • Golf Club Website

  • 5 miles N of Kilmarnock, off the B751

  • Welcome, some weekend tee times also available

  • Niall Campbell

  • Colin Montgomerie with Ross McMurray of EGD

  • David Addison and Ross Aitken

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.
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Reviews for Rowallan Castle

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Description: Rowallan Castle Golf Club is laid out within an historic estate with fairways draped across a gently undulating landscape that incorporates open meadow, wetland and woodland sites. Rating: 6 out of 10 Reviews: 32
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DAVE J
Having read some of the other reviews my friend and I approached our round with a degree of hesitancy. Our reluctance was misplaced, the layout of this course is excellent in particular the first 8 holes before you emerge from the trees. A great mix of challenging par 4s and intriguing par 3s, with tough par 5s that will test the skills of any golfer on any tees. A word about the greens for now a little slow however their contouring and positioning is first class like an inland links in places. At £40 this was excellent value for money, I would encourage others to try it as the only thing the course is lacking is traffic to give it a little soul. A word of warning dont venture too far from the fairways as the rough is very severe. This place has the potential to be very very good.
August 19, 2011
6 / 10
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A MacKechnie
Like the previous reviewer, I am also a member of Rowallan Castle GC and have had the pleasure of viewing the course from the construction phase to the completed course. Yes the course has to mature, however to compare it to other venues in the area is unsound as they have been in existence, in some cases for 100 years and have had time to mature and be nurtured through that time.The teeing grounds, bunker complexes and greens are as good as any course considering the grasses are so young and fragile. The fairways need time and will mature, considering the last two hard winters that we have had.The staff, from our resident pro to the clubhouse team are friendly and approachable and I have witnessed visitors thanking them for an enjoyable visit.In summary, give the course five years to mature, it is not a long time in a golf courses life to mature and then review it sensibly.
August 04, 2011
8 / 10
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Christopher
Joined on Saturday and third round tonight. Just keeps getting better. 19th is a great finish.
July 26, 2011
8 / 10
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Malcolm Mackenzie
I recently played Rowallan golf course – a well laid out course with stunning views of Arran. Although a long yardage course, it certainly wasn’t a long slog. Great to relax in the spacious clubhouse which has excellent facilities. All in all, a very enjoyable day.
July 18, 2011
8 / 10
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John Taylor
I played this course today with a friend using a voucher I had been given as a present.This must be one of - if not the - worst courses I have set foot on. Yes, it has been raining here fairly heavily but the fairways were mostly mud. I had been contacted by Rowallan a few days earlier to say that no trolleys were allowed on the course because of the conditions. We teed off and half way up the first hole, turned round to see a fourball with trolleys. It is the only course I have played where I really wanted to just get off with seven holes still to play (not counting the stupid 19th) and I suspect that two days from now, I will remember nothing of the course apart from the mud. I found the whole park - for that is what it surely is - ill conceived and boring as hell. The lady who was in reception could not have been more charming and I felt sorry to let her know my thoughts regarding the course. I do not see any signs that the course will improve at least in the next 10 years. I will certainly not return.
November 18, 2010
1 / 10
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niall campbell
February 15, 2011
obviously very disappointed with this review but most likely our fault for allowing play after such horrendous 150mm rainfall that week and which seems to have followed us into the New Year however anyone who finds the course as described together with the view that is boring and ill conceived cannot be a genuine enthusiast of the game of golf. Niall Campbell
AF
March 18, 2011
How come a modern course built in an area liable to flooding, especially in the spring, hasn't got the drainage sorted?
GH
July 22, 2011
I played it in June and it was just as bad...unbelievable. Even the barman agreed it should have been shut. If drainage isn't sorted soon, the whole enterprise will fold. There are far too many better courses to choose from. Sorry!
Harald Frykholm
I had great expectations for this one but afraid to say I left disappointed. Even at the reduced green fee there are much better courses in the area to spend your money on. The positives: Well, Colin has done a decent job with the layout. Even though it's not one of his best it's still interesting enough and the bunkering well done as you'd expect. The negatives: It simply hasn't settled yet. The finish is poor and especially the condition of the greens is not up to the standard you'd expect from a modern course. The speed varies between holes and despite the course being virtually empty there were lots of scuffs and marks on the surfaces making the ball jump and wobble. Like somebody mentioned below, this course will need a lot of time and money if it's to become what it aspires to be. At the moment it's a mediocre course with a lot of hype. 20 minutes down the road you've got Dundonald, Barassie and Glasgow Gailes, all of them far better golf courses than this one.
November 02, 2010
4 / 10
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Being honest
August 24, 2011
Barassie is not better than this, and to be honest neither is Gailes, but bear in mind they are both over 100 years old. Dundonald i would agree with but it had money thrown at it as it was supposed to be for the Scottish Open. And i am a member of one of the former courses. When this matures it will be breathtaking.
Steven
I played with 3 friends on Monday 28th September. We paid £120 for the 4-ball and feel we got value for money. We are of mixed ability, 2 x 16-handicappers, 1 x 11 and 1 x 9. In general we liked the course, some lovely holes (particularly some really pretty par 3s) but feel the rough was way too penal on the average amateur. Simply missing the fairway by 3 or 4 yards (which was all the first cut ever was) pretty much meant a guaranteed lost ball. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that we lost 15 balls between us which seems excessive! In our view, it looked like perhaps the recent economic restraints had meant a cut-back on maintenance staff as some places off the fairways were very shabby and unfinished looking. Other than that, there were some nicely shaped holes and the greens putted true albeit quite slow. Next year when they mature and dry out more they will be a very tough test, as there are some big slopes and undulatations which will test most players. One thing I would like them to address would be the yardage markers in relation to the pin positions. All but 1 green was 35 yards plus long and obviously playing as a newcomer (particularly into so many raised, semi-blind greens) meant we were guessing yardages as markers were to the front. Surely a map with a “today’s pin position” guide is essential if this is to try and be of championship quality?Overall we liked the course and plan to return but would like some of the finishing touches to be applied first. A final thought, not sure what the reviewer earlier in the month was on about as there is a pro-shop although it’s small and the bar/conservatory area is excellent? Couldn’t care less about a gym/steam room.
September 29, 2010
6 / 10
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Jim Robertson
Great to see a new course causing such split opinions! Time I threw my hat into the Rowallan Castle ring. I played here on a beautiful autumn evening (presumably thanks to the Papal visit just a few miles up the road in Bellahouston Park). Paid the twilight rate of £30 and felt this was slightly more than the course is worth. I enjoyed the front nine considerably more than the back. The first is a fine opening hole and the three par 3s going out are uniformly excellent. There are a couple of other decent par 4s in this stretch. I found the back nine rather a long,dull slog with the exception of the excellent long 16th. The two par 3s coming home are bland in the extreme and there is little to get the juices flowing. The last hole is, however, most attractive as you play straight towards the beautiful stately home. My main reservations concern the difficulty of the course : the bunkering is simply ferocious. I find that on many modern courses the architect (that's you Monty) resorts to the lazy option of placing numerous huge bunkers just about everywhere. The great Scottish links courses have small, astutely-placed bunkers as do all James Braid's brawest inland layouts. The rough was also extremely penal. My playing partner and I lost several balls each and while these were the result of poor shots that is nonetheless dispiriting. I quite enjoyed the course and would return. Were it possible I would award three and a half balls but the excellence of the par 3s early on pushes my rating up to 4. One other point : given the economic realities can there really be a market for yet another new course/resort in Scotland? I fear for Rowallan Castle (and many other Scottish courses) over the next few years.
September 17, 2010
6 / 10
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Martin Jordan
The cart should never come before the horse, but due to the one ball review bellow, I felt that a riposte was required before penning my own piece. You won’t be surprised that this review doesn’t differ much from that response it will, hopefully, elaborate on it a wee bit more.

Rowallan isn’t the best course that I have played all year, it isn’t even the best parkland course I have played, that award going to Newmachar Hawkshill ,but to give it a one ball score well, it’s a bit like chips and cheese, just wrong! I will concede that a nice clubhouse and niceRowallan Castle - Photo by MPPJ changing facilities does enhance your experience but it didn’t bother me then, and it doesnt bother me now, that Castle Stuart didn’t have a clubhouse when I played it. It didn’t bother me to change in a Portacabin to play Royal Troon ,I think you get my drift and, in any case, the changing facilities at Rowallan are more than ample.

The course is a typical modern design, with the back tees at almost 7000 yrds for the big boys to 6300yrds to the baby boomers like myself The first is a nice sweeping dogleg right to start with the 2nd the first of the 3 exceptional par 3's in the front 9 the 8th hole being the pick of the bunch. The back 9 is harder and longer and in truth not as good, the pick of the holes being the dogleg 11th, the short bunker strewn 12th the 16th which is guarded by water at the front of the green and the 18th. I have to admit that the stretch of holes between 13(for God's sake get rid of that pylon ASAP)to 15 left me a bit luke warm but that is a small gripe for a new course which has still to bed in properly. The excellent bunkering and greens, despite the best efforts of the local numpties , are in remarkably good condition and I think that the 19th decider hole is a lovely idea. So, not the best but a one ball review, no way. I hope to come back when it beds in a bit more and take advantage of their twlight offer. Who knows? I might go for a pint and a sauna afterwards. MPPJ
September 11, 2010
6 / 10
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Andy Flack
My guess is that the previous reviews are written by people who work or own the place...To keep it short and sweet this golf club fails in three places:1. The golf course. It simply isn't finished. Monty has done a reasonable job trying to lay out a course on this ground that is notorious for getting soggy, but a number of holes feel half finished. Maybe the money ran out? The surrounding areas along the course are messy and distract from the experience. Hugely overpriced greenfee doesn't help. When I played the greens were inconsistent both in pace and smoothness. Even the gimmicky 19th hole can save this course.2. Facilities... Erm, ok, if this was aimed at affluent people looking for a country club feel...well no. Just no. The locker rooms are tiny, feel cramped and have zero atmosphere. Cheap gym rather than a relaxing place where you sit and chat for a bit after the round before heading over to the bar. There's no sauna/steam room and as an afterthought to give something back to the poor sods who paid the massive initial debenture have a little VIP room which consists of a couch and a chair... Wow.No driving range. No practice area although the pro did mention that it might be coming when the money starts flowing... I think "if" would have been a better word. There's not even a pro shop!3. People: Again, I assume that the money ran out because the people in reception have no idea about tee off times or if the course is busy. The person behind the bar has never poured a pint before. You just get the feeling that this was built on a whim and there's no professional involved at all.Summary: Avoid. It's just not worth it. Very over priced and zero value for money. Maybe if they get completely new management and 5 years down the line if the course has matured and been improved upon. Right now I struggle to think of a course I'd like to play again less than this one.
September 10, 2010
1 / 10
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Martin Jordan
September 11, 2010
I am a wee bit of a loss here. True, this golf course will never get the pulses racing in the way that the front 9 at Royal Aberdeen or the back 9 at Carne does but a 1 ball mark is just daft in my very humble opinion (when my review is written it will get a 4 ball mark),Was the badly poured pint the straw that broke the camel’s back? Interestingly enough it seems to me that 3/4 of the review is about the après golf and it is almost as if the course isn’t as important as the peripheries. Well I would like to talk solely about the course itself because that is what interests me. Cards on the table, I don’t own the gaff and I dont work there either so I think that I can be objective. There is no doubt that the course still has to mature but even in its present state you can see that holes1,2,3,5,8,12,16 and 18 are more than decent and despite efforts from the local morons the greens where in great nick for a fledgling course . So there you have it we will have to agree to disagree I concede that Off the course extras are important, of course they are, a nice club house with nice facilities does help but to me they are of a secondary nature. So I would respectfully suggest that if you want an expertly poured pint, dont come here, go to the pub. if you want a nice gym with sauna, join your local leisure centre. Me, I will stick with the golf . MPPJ
Jim McCann
September 11, 2010
I can assure the reviewer that I don't work for/with anyone at Rowallan Castle so my remarks made about this course three weeks ago were based entirely on what I felt when I played it. To suggest otherwise is simply insulting. If I may respond to point (1.) the layout IS finished, it just needs time to mature - several other courses in Scotland that have opened in recent years have had to tweak a few things after they've opened to get things right and that applies here too. For someone to also be so detrimental about brand new greens is, in my view, uncalled for - methinks the golfer was far too hard to please (a feeling arrived at by some of the other scathing comments made).

As for the other gripes in points (2.) and (3.), I'm more than willing to overlook early off-course deficiencies, especially at a brand new golf facility, but I'm afraid this review typifies many in recent times where golfers overstate the importance of clubhouse service and amenities – I came to play golf, not wallow in a luxurious country club! The clubhouse isn't enormous, it's cosy, on a scale in keeping with the numbers that will play it at any one time I would imagine. Indeed, golfers are well served by a lovely, airy glasshouse restaurant off the main building. And by the way, if the reviewer thinks Monty contributed anything of real substance to the design here - other than putting his name to the project to promote the place - then they're sadly misguided.

There are PLENTY of other inland courses in Scotland that I'd rather not return to (some might even feature on this site) but this isn't one of them, not by a long way. If value for money is such a burning issue, there are currently excellent twilight green fees for the more cost conscious golfer on offer here. I really can't think of a more undeserving review that I've read in a long time. It promised at the outset to be short and sweet but accomplished neither objective, I'm afraid. Still, if it provokes others to go see for themselves what Rowallan Castle is REALLY like then it might just be the sort of unintentional marketing ploy the owner could benefit from. Incidentally, I believe the initial plan of offering debentures was scrapped so there's no need for any well-heeled golfer to be put off from playing here with thoughts of having to slum it in a pokey pavilion! To evaluate Rowallan Castle with a single ball mark displays, in my opinion, abject disrespect on the part of the reviewer.
cc
September 11, 2010
As the other reviewer so far (27/10), I have to echo the other responses. I do not have any connection to the course. I also played at very short notice and have no idea what the off-course facilities are. My review was based solely on the course. It is top 100 golf courses, after all. I did not find the course soggy, but it has been wet recently, and maybe I was lucky. As to it being unfinished, I presume the reviewer is of the school that natural is bad and courses are only good with massive earthworks. I liked the minimalism. And if £30 is not value for money, I don't know what is. I don't know the other responders, and indeed, frequently disagree with their reviews, but at least they always treat the subject fairly. It is NOT a 1-ball course.
Andy
September 14, 2010
It wasn't £30 when I played it, it was £65, and even the twilight rates won't tempt me back. The review is of the experience as a whole, as most of the reviews on this site tend to be. The course alone would get a 2 but to give it anymore than that is just silly. Compared to courses nearby both down the coast and in the Glasgow area it doesn't stand out at all. It's a wannabe course that doesn't deliver and it gets rated on that merit. Sorry chaps but like I said, maybe 5 years down the line when it has matured and hopefully got some new owners adding some money to it, the review will be higher. Right now it's no good. Andy
cjc
October 06, 2010
I played this course recently with my father. I felt that the back drop to every hole was amazing and the course design itself excelled considering the current economic climate. The rough is designed to be very hard and the course is extremely challenging. 1. There is a Pro shop selling customised shirts and clubs. There is also a driving range that videos you when you play so you can look at what your doing wrong. 2. The facilities are great, the glass house restaraunt is simply spectacular and the bar area is comfortable. The Founding Members room is not a VIP room, it isnt anymore comfortable than the mens changing area it is an area for people who love the course to express this by helping out. 3. The staff are great, so friendly and always there to take orders and answer question. I just hope that you will acknowledge your own ignorance and give this course another chance.
shab
November 04, 2010
Lord all mighty Jim McCann, how do you get to play all these courses. Come on admit it, you're a retired millionaire right?