Windyhill Golf Club started out as Canniesburn Golf Club in 1908, moving to its present location in 1924 when a hospital was earmarked for the land that its course occupied. James Braid, who laid out the club’s first course in 1910, was contracted to design the new layout, with the new eighteen holes opening for play in February 1925.
According to the book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses by John F Moreton and Iain Cumming, “Braid’s first visit was late in 1922. He staked off a course of almost 6000 yards in length. Local labour built the course but in 1928 John Stutt was there ‘remodelling’, using Braid’s ‘further suggestions’.”
The course extends to 6,154 yards nowadays, with only three par fives on the scorecard at the 8th, 13th and 15th holes. It’s a hilly track, with several fairways routed across sloping terrain (such as at holes 5, 8 and 15) and it’s been known for first time golfers at Windyhill to complain “you need one leg shorter than the other to play here!”On the front nine, “Perfection” at the 414-yard 9th certainly requires golfing excellence in the shape of a long drive to an up sloping fairway followed by a lengthy second shot to a green that’s benched into the hillside. On the inward half, the signature hole at “Rocky Gait” is another very testing par four that makes similar demands on length and accuracy with both the tee shot and the approach.
One of the highlights of a game at Windyhill are the stunning views across Glasgow from the north side of the city. The vista from the 16th tee, in particular, is a memorable one, The course, too, has much to commend it. The first three holes, unusually, form a loop back to the clubhouse and introduce the changes of elevation that are such a feature here. The first fairway sweeps uphill to be followed by by a nice par 3 and a fine downhiller. After a wee walk through the car park some dullish holes ensue although 7 is a decent par three. I have to say I am not a fan of the 9th which I would politely describe as brutal. A multi-shotter (for me, at any rate) straight up a hill that seems to get steeper as it goes. Much of the back nine is played along the top of the hill and is consequently flatter. A particular favourite of mine is the short 14th, an absolutely beautiful par 3 which features large rocks behind and to the right side of the green and a wee burn and out of bounds on the left. I should also mention the rocks that feature on the right side of the excellent 12th. 16 and 17 are both played downhill - always welcome at this late stage - before the gentle 18th brings an enjoyable round to a close.
I was a member here for a few years a while back (before my nomadic instincts got the better of me) so I know the course well. Laid out on rolling terrain in the hills above the north west side of Glasgow, the course is very much a parkland track with traces of moorland evident in places, especially at the top end of the course, close to the working quarry.
The standard scratch score is one less than the par (for all three sets of tees) but don’t let that rating fool you into thinking Windyhill is an easy course – far from it, in fact.
“Perfection,” the 414-yard 9th, is a very strong par four that’s played to an elevated hillside green which is rarely ever reached in two blows by most golfers playing here - and the same can be said of the signature hole at “Rocky Gait,” the 433-yard 12th.
Those two holes - rated stroke index 1 and 2 - would not be out of place on ANY of the championship courses that I’ve played around the country. The four par threes on the card are all sensibly-sized, good one shotters but the short par fours at 17 and 18 are weak holes to finish off the round – though beware a three putt on the home green as it slopes more severely from right to left than you might imagine.