The 18-hole layout at Whitecraigs Golf Club in Giffnock is a Willie Fernie course that dates back to 1905, at a time when the Open champion of 1883 was also involved in designing the new Portland course for the members at Royal Troon. Because of plans to widen the main Ayr Road alongside the course, James Braid was involved in subsequent course modifications, many of which remain in place today.
According to John F. Moreton & Iain Cumming’s book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses, “in 1938… two (land) purchases were made, allowing (Braid’s) report to be implemented. The 6th was extended, the present 7th built, as was the 11th, considered by some the best course on the course. The present 12th was extended into new ground, the long par three 13th was constructed and the 14th received a new green.”Today, the course extends to just over 6,000 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 70. Highlight holes on the front nine include “Perry Vale,” the 429-yard 4th - rated stroke index 2 on the card - and “Wolfe’s Way,” the 513-yard 6th, which is the only par five on the outward half. On the way home, the 262-yard 17th (“The Beeches”) is a great birdie opportunity at the penultimate hole.
A game at Whitecraigs begins with a lovely little par three and ends with a muscular big par five. In between this unconventional start and finish, there’s a fine array of parkland golf holes laid out on a rolling landscape where the challenge becomes stronger and more intense as the round progresses.
On the front nine, the short par four 3rd is a delight, its fairway pitching and rolling down to a green that’s benched into the side of a small gully and the uphill par three at the 7th is a really tough short hole, with two bunkers on the left of the green designed to catch tee shots which don’t quite carry all the way to the target.
The 11th sets the tone for the test on the back nine, doglegging sharply left to a green that sits behind the Broom Burn. A couple of blind drives across gullies follow at holes 12 and 14, putting great pressure on the tee shot, then the start for home begins in earnest at the rolling par five 15th. The plunging, semi-blind par three 16th is probably the signature hole on the course, with hidden bunkers to the right and a small bailout area to the left of a heavily contoured green.
All too soon, it’s time to ride the switchback 18th fairway back to the home green in front of the clubhouse to conclude a very satisfying round. Checking my scorecard notes, they also make mention of a) the “impeccable bunkers” on the course (which really are of a very high standard) and b) the club’s terrific wee 9-hole par three layout (with tiny, bunkerless greens) which is also worth a play if time permits.
Whitecraigs is definitely one of the better courses in the Glasgow area, even though it’s listed under Renfrewshire due to its SGU classification.