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
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Jim McCann

Western Gailes is separated from adjacent courses like Barassie , Glasgow Gailes and Dundonald by the railway line but, Western Gailes - Photo by Jim McCannwhat REALLY keeps this course apart from the others is the understated class of the layout – a traditional links course which just oozes quality.

I was fortunate enough to play on a sunny Spring day when the wind was never more than a light breeze and it was an absolute joy to tread the fairways.

The front nine are laid out on ground to the north of the property that is more undulating than the inward half and it is here that the best holes are located. I particularly liked the punchbowl green on the 2nd hole and admired the swale in front of the putting surface on the 3rd – no easing your way into a round here so hit the fairway running or you’ll be punished early on.

The top hole on the card was the 498 yard 6th, called “Lappock” where mounding keeps you in the dark about the cunning green location in the sand hills until the very last minute – a hole where a distance guide is a must for the first time visitor.

The back nine has burns in front of holes 10, 13 and 16 so no slacking off here on your way back to the clubhouse.

All in all, Western Gailes is a must play on any west coast rota of top tracks and with lunch included in the visitors fee, it is surprisingly good value when compared to other leading courses in the vicinity.

Jim McCann

April 15, 2007
9 / 10
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stewart
April 17, 2007
Jim - The sixth is indeed a fantastic hole. Inspired by my recent trip to Ayrshire I just finished James Flanagan’s book, “ Blasted Heaths and Blessed Greens.” He sums up Western Gailes perfectly: “…beginning at the first and running without interruption through the 11th, there are holes—natural and challenging, fair and fascinating—that we not only take the most intense pleasure in playing but that actually articulate why true links golf is the best there is. These holes are routed over the perfect terrain; undulating, mildly hummocky, rising here, tumbling there, the greens sited exactly where—indeed, only where—the greens should be, the fairways marvelously defined by the low dunes and the wild grasses and the heather. We suspect that this just may be the perfect seaside course…. Permit me to insist that Western Gailes is a grand place to play, for it is surely no less.”
stewart

I just returned from 4 days of Golf in the Ayrshire area, having played Glasgow Gailes, Turnberry Ailsa, Turnberry Kintyre, Prestwick (Old), Dundonald and Western Gailes. All were excellent, but the course that surpassed my expectations was Western Gailes. What an interesting and delightful layout. If it had a lighthouse and hosted a few Open Championships I think it would be held to the same level of esteem as Turnberry Ailsa. The green fee is just a fraction of what is charged at Turnberry and includes a fine lunch. The stretch from #6 to #10 is about as good as it gets anywhere. I could play this course every day and never tire of it.

March 25, 2007
10 / 10
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Wimpie
April 03, 2007
I have to agree with the review. I played Royal Dornoch, Gleneagles, Carnoustie, Western Gailes and Turnberry(Ailsa) and the best were Royal Dornoch and Western Gailes. A wonderful surprise and one of the best courses in Scotland. I will return again this year in July and play Muirfield and Glascow Gailes amongst others. Have told everybody that wanted to listen aout this friendly and wonderful course.
Jim Phelps
Western Gailes is truely one of the hidden gems of golf in Scotland. I have played this course for the past two years during my spring golfing excursions to Scotland. It is a wonderful experience that I can hardly wait to repeat.
January 08, 2007
10 / 10
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W
Played the course with 3 friends in October 2006. The green fee was reduced slightly because the greens had been hollow-tined – they were pretty slow, a bit woolly really.Overall we were a little disappointed and would not rank the course as high as 26. All four of us are experienced links players but playing 9 consecutive holes into the wind becomes a little tedious!A good course but not as high as 26.
October 18, 2006
6 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
Great links course squashed between the railway and the sea. Holes 1-4 go north, 5-13 south and 14-18 back to north, therefore the wind is a big factor. Pretty as a picture at the far end of the course (13th, 14th), so much gorse providing a wonderful scene. Some truly brilliant links holes at Western, par 3 7th and par 4 17th my picks – Highly recommended.
April 26, 2006
8 / 10
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Keith Baxter
Western Gailes is the understated gem of the Ayrshire coast. It doesn't have the pedigree of Turnberry, Troon or Prestwick, but in many ways Western is the best all round course of the bunch. A sense of quiet and unassuming confidence is all around the place and there's nothing showy just a good honest links course with a fine collection of holes and an especially strong set of par threes. Make sure it's up at the top of your list of courses to play when you're visiting this neck of the woods, you won't be disappointed.
April 23, 2006
8 / 10
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Lee Abbey
A great test of golf with 18 honest and fair holes. There are no unfair or obvious designer hallmarks here. The course was in fine condition in April 06 and it proved one of the more enjoyable rounds on this tour ranked in my eyes just below Turnberry's Ailsa. Well worth a visit and a must play if you're planning a tour of the region. The clubhouse was being refurbed on our visit but you could still get lunch though it's a jacket and tie affair. We only found four people eating and no staff members anywhere so left without so much as a pint.
April 10, 2006
8 / 10
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Jim Robertson
Ranks in the echelon just behind the great links courses of Scotland, i.e. a fine test with some excellent holes and lovely views. Try to play here if you can.
February 04, 2006
8 / 10
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Richard Smith
A course you should absolutely not miss if you are on the western coast of Scotland. We played this course in a fierce wind, and when it started raining we thought it was hail because it was hitting us so hard. Our first four holes were downwind. To give you some idea of the severity, I drove it into a greenshide bunker at the first (325 yards or so). After turning into the wind I hit a driver and a 4 iron to the 320 yard 9th. The course is wedged between the ocean and runs straight out, back for nine wholes, and then straight back in. Most of the time the wind is either dead with or against you. Hole #5 is a stern par 4, and at 460 into the wind we were hitting 5 irons on our third shots! 7 is a great par three, hard against the coast line with the green nestled between high banks of rough.The holes are all interesting and challenging.The club is exceedingly friendly and playing this course is one of my foundest memories. This course deserves it high ranking and is one I would seek out and play any time I was close by.
November 20, 2005
10 / 10
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Hugh
You need to know how to handle a links course to play well here. Western is a demanding course with tricky subtle greens that are well protected. A couple of excellent little par threes provides great entertainment. A course that will appeal to the connoisseurs because it has everything going for it but always in an understated way. The run from the 6th is especially good. A true links course and one of the best on the Ayrshire coast. Clubhouse is an imposing but welcoming building and the staff and members are really friendly.
April 18, 2005
8 / 10
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