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.

Architect Tom Mackenzie sent us this exclusive quote in August 2020 regarding the work his firm was undertaking at Western Gailes:

“Mackenzie & Ebert’s work focuses on the bunkering with drive bunkers re-sited and re-styled to make them less severe but more visually stimulating. Tee positions are being adjusted with forward tees being added on some holes to make the carries more consistent in different wind conditions.

Some green surround reshaping is being undertaken on holes such as the 5th, 9th and 18th. The first phase was completed in early 2020 with a second phase completing the bunker work in the autumn of 2020. Further phases may well follow. This makes the course more forgiving for the shortest players and more challenging for the better players.”

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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: 8.6 out of 10 Reviews: 52
TaylorMade
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
9 / 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 05, 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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Jim McCann

I managed to squeeze a game in last week at Western Gailes - Photo by Jim McCannWestern Gailes and it was a real delight to play again, even if the greens were a wee bit on the bumpy side due to overnight frost.

Holes 5 to 13 which hug the coastline are very good and the winter tee positions at sizeable angles to the side of the holes gave you lots to think about in relation to finding the fairways.

The clubhouse has such a lovely feel to it, with the staff making you feel like a long serving member – not a hint of snootiness or stuffiness here.

Western Gailes is an excellent example of the maxim that clubs with the best courses never have to try too hard to convey that fact to visitors, resulting in a very relaxed atmosphere both on the course and in the clubhouse.

Jim McCann

December 23, 2008
9 / 10
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allan mcmillan
Western Gailes deserves to be higher on the list of great British Golf Courses. It has stunning natural beauty and a rugged grandeur that leaves a memorable impression on the visitor. On a day of brisk wind and sunshine, I kept the ball low and managed to compete with the undulating links. The holes from 4 to 9 were a joy to play and the quality of the fairways and greens were the best I have experienced. The standards in the clubhouse are also first class. I'll be back soon!
November 11, 2008
10 / 10
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allan mcmillan
September 09, 2016

Yes, I reckon Wetern Gailes to be the best and truest links course in Ayrshire. It is secluded beyond the railway line and occupies the finest dune land area. Although some of the holes are not overly long, they do present a tough challenge that demands constantly good shot-making. The club do everything they can to make your visit enjoyable.

colin
Great links golf. If I was being picky I'd say the closing holes become a tad flatter and less interesting, and for the better golfer there are too many short par fours. Doesn't have the sheer brutal challenge and tight bunkering of Troon, but I suspect most ordinary golfers may enjoy Western better. The 4th through to the 7th is a great stretch of golf.
October 13, 2007
8 / 10
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simon freeman
The layout and terrain is so diverse you could play here solidly for a month and not get bored. Brilliant out and back narrow course, jammed between the sea and the railway. Lots of rough, lots of burns and a whole lot of fun. The most tidy links I have ever played- as a links greenkeeper myself I can honestly say I was inspired by the quality of work at Western. Neat wee bridges, sleeper edged ditches, perfectly constructed bunkers, excellent playing surfaces- I absolutely loved every single thing about this place.
August 18, 2007
10 / 10
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Cédric
Not much to add to Jim's review!!!This place is top class!!! Fantastic clubhouse where you can feel the unique atmosphere of a great course…The front nine is probably better than the back nine. Even with almost no wind, this is a tough challenge…Will return anytime!
April 20, 2007
8 / 10
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