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West and Southwest Scotland - Top 50 Golf Courses 2017

18 July, 2017

West and Southwest Scotland - Top 50 Golf Courses 2017

When we last updated our Scottish rankings two years ago, we issued a news release for every one of the fifteen Caledonian regional charts that we maintain. This time around, we’ve decided to rationalise the process somewhat by grouping the regions into three broader areas – West & Southwest, East & Southeast and North – then producing a Top 50 news release for each one.

We also asked four widely travelled Scottish panellists from a leading golf magazine if they would assist with our ranking process and, thankfully, everybody agreed to help. So, for the first time, we thank Alan Ferguson, John Fraser, Alan McPherson and Neal Stewart for their much-appreciated contributions, which now augment those of our in-house team.

We start with the West & Southwest area, which incorporates the seven regions of Argyll & Bute, Ayrshire & Arran, Dumfries & Galloway, Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, and as it so happens exactly 25 of the 50 courses in our new area chart already occupy positions in our Scotland Top 100 rankings. As we’ll be writing about this national listing in a couple of months, we’re focusing this review on some of the best tracks in the lower half of this new table, giving a little prominence to courses that are often overlooked.

Shiskine at number 26 has just missed out on a place in our Scottish Top 100 for a few editions now – perhaps it’ll make it this time around? Here’s what some of the more recent reviews have to say about this iconic 12-hole layout on the Isle of Arran: “Shiskine is everything great about golf in Scotland… it’s the most fun you’ll have on a golf course… in a different league altogether.” It’s also been described as “great value and good fun” and “an experience not to be missed” – perhaps it’s time to find out for yourself how good it is?

The Hilton course at Hilton Park Golf Club isat number 28 it’s one of two 18-hole moorland layouts operated by the club just outside Milngavie, to the north west of Glasgow. Officially opened by James Braid, JH Taylor, a young Henry Cotton and Scottish professional Stewart Burns on 8th September 1928, the Hilton course was remodelled after World War II but it still holds true to the original design principals of Braid, who originally set out the two tracks here. Martin Laird, successful professional on the PGA Tour, cut his golfing teeth at Hilton Park and you’ll see his name on one of the clubhouse honours boards as a former junior champion at the club.

The course at Hamilton Golf Club occupies the number 29 slot and it’s another James Braid design where the architect used the firm of John R. Stutt from Potterhill, Paisley, for the first time during the construction of the course. Stutt was twenty-seven years younger than Braid and they remained in partnership for a further twenty-six years until Braid’s death in 1950. The course offers golfers a parkland challenge on an epic scale, with fairways routed across an undulating landscape which has, in recent years, had its arboreal inventory thinned out in certain areas to assist the course’s general agronomy profile.

The Championship course at Cawder Golf Club fills thenumber 30 position and it’s the premier 18-hole track at a 36-hole club which is fortunate enough to have two James Braid-designed layouts in play. The Championship course (formerly known as Cawder) appeared first in 1933, followed two years later by the Keir course. Actually, Braid didn’t design the courses at all because he was called in to survey the layout proposed by the club committee and he approved all the holes, except for two. The course has been modified quite a bit since the formal opening on 5th May 1934 and much of the original design has been changed down the years. Nonetheless, the Championship course remains a fine test, especially around “Amen Corner,” holes 13 to 16.

The course at Paisley Golf Club (number 34 in our new listing) is a Philip Mackenzie Ross creation, opening its doors to golfers in 1953 when the club was forced to move to Gleniffer Braes, high above the town of Paisley. Ross, the former construction right hand man of Tom Simpson in the 1920s, worked on many projects in western Europe, mainly in France, Belgium and Portugal, though he was also well regarded for his rebuilding of war-ravaged courses such as the Ailsa at Turnberry after the end of World War II. Today, this fine moorland track extends to a relatively modest 6,479 yards from the back markers but with a standard scratch of 72 versus a par of 71 it’s a very underrated track that provides a stringent golfing examination.

The course at the Cally Palace Hotel at Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries & Galloway just squeezes into our regional Top 50 in the last available slot. The course was once private and only available to those staying at the hotel of the same name but the McMillan Hotel Group has made it available to the general golfing public in the last few years for a very reasonable green fee, which is to be commended. Designed by Northern Ireland architect Tom McAuley, the layout is set in a tranquil country estate that enjoys wonderful views of Cardoness Castle, Rutherford’s Monument and the Fleet Estuary. Geographically, it may be a little off the beaten track but it’s well worth going the extra mile or two to play a round in such peaceful surroundings.

West and Southwest Scotland - Top 50 Golf Courses 2017

Rank/ Course
1 Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)
2 Royal Troon (Old)
3 Loch Lomond
4 Western Gailes
5 Prestwick
6 Machrihanish (Championship)
7 Machrie
8 Machrihanish Dunes
9 Dundonald
10 Trump Turnberry (King Robert the Bruce)
11 Southerness
12 Glasgow Gailes
13 Irvine
14 Prestwick St Nicholas
15 Kilmarnock (Barassie)
16 West Kilbride
17 East Renfrewshire
18 Lanark
19 Stranraer
20 Carrick
21 Powfoot
22 Kilmacolm
23 Portpatrick (Dunskey)
24 Ranfurly Castle
25 Mar Hall - Earl of Mar
26 Shiskine
27 Royal Troon (Portland)
28 Hilton Park (Hilton)
29 Hamilton
30 Cawder (Cawder)
31 Glasgow (Killermont)
32 Strathaven
33 Rowallan Castle
34 Paisley
35 Cardross
37 Bothwell Castle
38 Largs
39 Hayston
40 Bonnyton
41 Belleisle
42 Drumpellier
43 Cathkin Braes
44 Renfrew
45 Erskine
46 Whitecraigs
47 East Kilbride
48 Easter Moffat
49 Milngavie
50 Cally Palace
Rank/ Course Move
1 East Renfrewshire No change
2 Kilmacolm Up 1
3 Ranfurly Castle Down 1
4 Mar Hall - Earl of Mar No change
5 Paisley Up 1
6 Bonnyton Down 1
7 Renfrew No change
8 Erskine Up 1
9 Whitecraigs Down 1
10 Old Course Ranfurly New entry

Click the following links to see in detail our latest Best In Region rankings for the seven West & Southwest Scotland regions:

Argyll & Bute Top 5 Golf Courses 2017

Rank/ Course Move 1 Machrihanish (Championship) No change 2 Machrie No change 3 Machrihanish Dunes No change 4 Dunaverty No change 5 Millport No change

Ayrshire & Arran Top 20 Golf Courses 2017

Rank/ Course Move 1 Trump Turnberry (Ailsa) No change 2 Royal Troon (Old) No change 3 Western Gailes Up 1 4 Prestwick Down 1 5 Dundonald No change 6 Trump Turnberry (King Robert the Bruce) Up 2 7 Glasgow (Gailes Links) Down 1 8 Irvine Down 1 9 Pestwick St Nicholas Up 2 10 Kilmarnock (Barassie) Down 1 11 West Kilbride Down 1 12 Shiskine Up 1 13 Royal Troon (Portland) Up 1 14 Rowallan Castle Down 2 15 Largs No change 16 Belleisle No change 17 Troon (Darley) Up 1 18 Troon (Lochgreen) Up 1 19 Brunston Castle Down 2 20 Ballochmyle New entry

Dumfries & Galloway Top 10 Golf Courses 2017

Rank/ Course Move 1 Southerness No change 2 Stranraer No change 3 Powfoot No change 4 Portpatrick (Dunskey) No change 5 Cally Palace No change 6 Dumfries & County No change 7 Wigtownshire County Up 1 8 Dumfries & Galloway Down 1 9 Thornhill Up 1 10 Kirkcudbright New entry

Dunbartonshire Top 10 Golf Courses 2017

Rank/ Course Move 1 Loch Lomond No change 2 Carrick No change 3 Hilton Park (Hilton) Up 1 4 Cardross Down 1 5 Hayston Up 1 6 Balmore Down 1 7 Milngavie No change 8 Douglas Park Up 1 9 Helensburgh Up 1 10 Windyhill Down 2

Glasgow Top 5 Golf Courses 2017

Rank/ Course Move 1 Cawder (Cawder) No change 2 Glasgow (Killermont) Up 1 3 Cathkin Braes Down 1 4 Pollok No change 5 Haggs Castle No change

Lanarkshire Top 10 Golf Courses 2017

Rank/ Course Move 1 Lanark No change 2 Hamilton Up 1 3 Strathaven Down 1 4 Bothwell Castle Up 1 5 Drumpellier Down 1 6 East Kilbride Up 4 7 Easter Moffat Up 2 8 Crow Wood New entry 9 Carnwath Down 2 10 Carluke Down 2

Renfrewshire Top 10 Golf Courses 2017

Jim McCann


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