Western Gailes - Ayrshire & Arran - Scotland

Western Gailes Golf Club,
Gailes,
Irvine,
Ayrshire,
KA11 5AE,
Scotland


  • +44 (0) 1294 311649

  • Golf Club Website

  • 3 miles N of Troon, off A78

  • Welcome Mon, Wed & Fri – contact in advance

Western Gailes Golf Club is wedged between Irvine Bay and the railway tracks on one of Ayrshire’s narrowest strips of links land. Western and its next-door neighbour, Glasgow Gailes, are the northernmost of the exceptional links courses located on this prodigious stretch of Ayrshire coastline.

Four Glaswegians who were fed up with playing on muddy parkland founded the club in 1897. They recruited the first keeper of the greens, Mr. F. Morris, to lay out the course on land leased from the Duke of Portland. Western Gailes is listed in the catalogue of Simpson & Company Golf Architects, but we don't know what work Tom Simpson may have carried out prior to Fred W. Hawtree developing four new holes in the mid 1970s to accomodate a new road.

Western is an unusual layout in that the clubhouse is more or less centrally located. The first four holes head north, parallel to the railway tracks. The next nine holes head straight back along the coastline in a southerly direction, passing the clubhouse along the way, and then the closing five holes head northwards, back towards the clubhouse and once more along the railway line.

Whilst the layout, as we have already mentioned, is unusual but ostensibly nine out and nine back, the holes are wonderfully varied. The fairways undulate gently, interrupted occasionally by three meandering burns that dissect this thin strip of land. The greens sites are cleverly located in naturally folded ground; some are protected by burns whilst others, like the 6th, are in hollows guarded by sand dunes. All the greens are fast, firm and subtly contoured. The 14th hole, a wonderful par five which often plays downwind, provides a huge temptation for big hitters, but numerous bunkers lie in wait.

Be prepared for a westerly wind that can be undeniably ferocious and cunning as it switches direction from south-westerly to north-westerly. On occasions it can be soul-destroying. Western Gailes is a suitably fitting name for this golf course.

Western is a very stiff golfing test – expect to use every club in the bag. The layout measures 6,714 yards from the back tees and Western has hosted a number of important events, including the 1972 Curtis Cup, narrowly won by the USA and the 1964 PGA Championship, won by AG Grubb. Additionally, the course is used for final qualifying when the Open is played at Troon or Turnberry.

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Reviews for Western Gailes

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Description: The holes at Western Gailes Golf Club are wonderfully varied. The fairways undulate gently, interrupted occasionally by three meandering burns... Rating: 8.7 out of 10 Reviews: 47
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Paul Harrison
Played this great course last weekend on our Annual Golf Trip and as ever it was a pleasure. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination always different depending on the wind strength and direction but it does not rely on length for defence. This year the rough was deep and thick resulting in a lot of ball searching and as a result a long tiring round but we were rewarded afterwards with a fine lunch. The first 4 holes were a gentle opener with an iron off the tee being suffice. When we turned though the course showed its teeth and the nine hole stretch south bound along the sea was tough going. There are some great holes along this stretch, the Par 3’s are good without being long, a fair test, some tough Par 4’s, the 5th, 11th & 12th amongst them and the Par 5 6th always a favourite. We then turned back towards the Clubhouse for the closing five holes, a fine finishing stretch with some strong holes including the bunker strewn Par 5 14th and the 17th with a blind second shot. A lovely course laid out many years ago but standing the test of time. However I would say Glasgow Gailes & Dundonald are closing the gap and as a three they make a great golf experience. Try them you wont be disappointed.
June 11, 2013
8 / 10
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Brian Ward
Four of us visited Western Gailes last week on our annual trip to Scotland and were all mightily impressed by this classy lay out. We were told beforehand that we would enjoy this course the most and sure enough we did. We loved every second of walking the famous fairways of Royal Troon and Prestwick but for us Western was the star of the show. The welcome we received on arrival and inside the clubhouse was first class. On top of that the starter was extremely helpful offering us lines from the tees as well as a friendly warning of the dangers to come on some of the holes. We were lucky enough to play the course on a calm, sunny day and the views across to Arran particularly from the nine holes that run along the beach are simply stunning. My favourite holes are amongst the dunes, particularly 6 and 7 but there are so many good ones to choose from. The burn running in front of the green on 8, 13 and 16 only adds to the excitement and the railway line down the right of the closing holes keeps you on your toes until the end. Every hole offers a different challenge and there is not a weak one on the course. On top of that, the greens were as good as anything I have seen this year. This place may be overshadowed by some of its neighbours when it comes to the history of the game but should be very much viewed as an equal when comparing the quality of golf on offer. Brian W
August 13, 2012
10 / 10
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Richard Smith
What a wonderful golf course. I last played here almost 20 years ago in some of the most severe weather I ever remember encountering in the UK, yet I always held fond memories of the course and the club. On a calmer day during a recent trip I was able to enjoy and admire the subtleties of the course. The layout is indeed unique, with 4 hole out, nine back, and five returning to the clubhouse. There are two great par 5's, 6 and 14, which are as good as any par 5's in the UK, especially the 6th with it's devilish green tucked away behind the dunes. 7 is a justifiably famous par 3, but in truth I really enjoyed the variety of the par 4's. There are a number of shorter holes requiring strategy rather than strength, but enough longer holes such as 2, 4 11 and 12 that require strength as well as skill. Overall this is a great club with a wonderful, welcoming staff that all lovers of links golf should take in on a visit to the west coast of Scotland.Richard Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
August 09, 2012
10 / 10
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B.G. Donaldson
Western Gailes was the first of a nine course tour our group took recently, and it was an excellent opener. We were greeted kindly by George, directed to the changing rooms, then had lunch which was included in the fees. We found the course excellent, in great condition, scenic and eminently playable. Our experience was complemented by four of the best caddies we had on our tour - helpful, knowledgeable, hilarious, and no one was spared, neither ourselves or themselves. It was a course that one could enjoy playing for the rest of one's life. Only the comparison to Turnberry prevents me from giving Western Gailes a six-ball rating. It is a very strong five.
September 12, 2011
8 / 10
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steve guzik
I played at Western recently and I cannot really fault the course or the setup. As has been mentioned, you are met by the starter and given a full run down of where everything is etc. The course was in very good condition and the holes through the dunes are excellent. On a nice day (as we had), the views to the beach and sea are spellbinding. The 17th is also a great, tough hole where many rounds will be made or broken. I have a few slight criticisms however that make this only a 5 ball instead of a 6 ball rating. 1)At £120 it is a bit overpriced - this is on a par with the Old at St Andrews or Carnoustie. 2)A ridiculous 'sock' rule where you have to have your socks up to your knees (if you are wearing shorts) and 3) No warm-up area / nets for hitting long irons or drives before your round.
May 04, 2011
8 / 10
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Jim McCann

I know that Top100 appraisals should only focus on the course being reviewed but, really, to write about this place without mentioning the club and the atmosphere in the clubhouse would be doing Western Gailes a gross disservice. Everything here has quality stamped on it in very large letters.

Western Gailes Golf Course - Photo by reviewer From the moment you’re welcomed at the front door by the genial caddie master to the farewell you are bid by the catering and bar staff in the lounge you know you’re made to feel a member for the day. If, on leaving, you feel unimpressed with the 18 holes of traditional Scottish links golf that’s on offer here, then I suggest you must be one of the most demanding golfers to ever have set foot on a golf course.

The stretch of fairways from hole 5 to 13 are magnificent, bookended by a sprightly opening foursome and a stirring final five holes.

The par five 6th and par three 7th are two of the best holes in the country, as is the brilliant par four 17th.

Such was the excellent state of the fairways and greens when I played yesterday, you would never know the country had just endured one of the worst winters in living memory. Indeed, as a matter of opinion, I think the course at Western Gailes is only bettered in Ayrshire by the Ailsa at Turnberry.

Jim McCann

February 24, 2011
10 / 10
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steve grainger
played as part of 'Gailes experience' promotion (180 pound for Glasgow / Western and Dundonald). This was the best of the 3, in no small part down to the sea views which the others dont have. Also probably has more quirky holes and elevated tees, which I am a personal fan of. Condition was spot on and the above deal was a tremendous bargain.
September 07, 2010
8 / 10
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Terry Parker
This was my first experience of a (Scottish) top 20 course and initially I found it intimidating. Pulling up into the car park in my battered Peugeot 206 and being surrounded by Merc a BMW’s left me the sense that I did not belong here. This was quickly abated by the starter’s friendly and professional manner. However, my first glance of the course whetted my appetite and I was instantly in the mood to play golf. A superb drive on the first further relaxed me and as I meandered down the first fairway I began to absorb the quality that surrounded me. The first few holes contained undulations like I had never seen before. Although I had seen many Open’s on TV I simply had no appreciation of how difficult links golf could be with all the run off areas and uneven lies.I was so engrossed with the run of holes along the sea that I paid no mind to the cold and blustery conditions. The Par 3 7th to this day is perhaps the most inviting Tee shot I have ever taken on. If you have experience playing the higher rated championship links courses you maybe left wondering what all the hype is about. If you are venturing into the more upmarket courses for the first time this is the place to start.
June 18, 2010
8 / 10
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Hugh Jarse
I have just completed a round in glorious sunshine but with a steady “breeze” which made this wonderful links all but impossible without the benefit of local knowledge or the direction of an in the know caddie.This is links golf at its beautiful, intoxicating, frustrating best.Undulating fairways, knolls, knobs and run offs carry your ball into tiny yet cavernous pot bunkers so deep that they require little flights of steps to get you in or out, or into knee high wispy rough so thick that anything but a sand iron shot out is sheer folly.Blind shots and hidden greens abound and the meandering burn offers protection against the pitch and run at several holes, leaving your airborne approach shots to the mercy of the ubiquitous “breeze” which guarantees yet another visit to the pot bunkers and their thick, powdery sand.None of the above means that the course is in any way unfair however. Bunkers do not appear in bizarre or unnecessary locations, the course relying on subtle borrows, doglegs and pinch points for its protection off many tees.Despite one of the wettest months on record the fairways are in stunning condition: bone dry, springy and long running. The greens are immaculate and billiard table like and run totally true to your chosen line.Up there with the best of the great natural links courses, this is one not to be missed.
August 06, 2009
8 / 10
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Martin Jordan
I have come to the conclusion that Western Gailes is a wee bit taken for granted. Let me explain: like many others I have been seduced by playing the glamour tracks of Turnberry, Troon and Prestwick even though I was well aware of Western Gailes’ highly regarded reputation and that I would get round to playing it sometime. Well, that someday came and I quickly realised my mistake as Western Gailes is as good, if not better, than all of the above with the exception of the Ailsa at Turnberry.

At just over 6000 yards from the regulars Western Gailes is short in comparison to today’s monsters but as Harry Colt, the man behind Muirfield and Hoylake among numerous others stated “length has very little to do with merit”. It is, like many other of the courses in this area, a club of olde worlde charm. The ubiquitous rough and gorse coupled with stunning views, lift your golfing soul to new levels. In fact, you will have to travel far and wide to get a more magnificent and thought provoking stretch of holes than that of holes 3 – 9 which can see you using every club in your bag and every shot in your armoury. The back 9 may seem less relenting but there are still some classic holes the best being the 17th which wouldn’t look out of place at any championship course.

A special word and hearty thanks go out to Caddy master George Ferguson who took time out of his schedule to give us a behind the scene tour of the clubhouse which displays the club’s interesting memorabilia. It was greatly appreciated: a fabulous day rounded off with an unexpected treat. Don’t make the mistake that I did. Western Gailes is no “B” list, best supporting actress job. It is an “A” list, up for an Oscar star which shouldn’t be seen as subservient to others and which on no account should be missed. MPPJ
January 27, 2009
8 / 10
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