Located on the same stretch of Ayrshire coastline that features Turnberry to the south and Royal Troon to the north, Western Gailes serves as a final qualifying venue whenever The Open visits either of those prestigious layouts.
Having been founded in 1897, it also has history and tradition to burn and has been the venue for the Curtis Cup, Scottish Amateur (many times) and the European Men’s Amateur Team Championship.
In addition to the usual links characteristics of undulations, mounds, bunkers and sandhills (among which are nestled several of the greens), the course features three burns that exist only to ruin your day and a railway line that runs parallel to the final stretch of five holes.
The ubiquitous wind is also, of course, a major part of the course’s defences but then, you wouldn’t expect anything else, would you?
Founded in 1897, Western Gailes Golf Club is located on the same famous stretch of coastline as Prestwick, Turnberry and Glasgow Gailes, to name but a few. Recognised domestically as one of the finest links golf courses in Scotland, if it were not for some of its more famous neighbours, Western Gailes would be renowned across the globe as a must-play venue. As it is, many seasoned golfers will tell you it is the best and with its reputation growing all the time, Western Gailes looks sure to get the recognition it deserves...
Since its inception, Western Gailes was always destined to host great events and since Harry Vardon won the first major contest here in 1903, the course has played host to many major events, such as the Curtis Cup, Scottish PGA Championships and Scottish Amateur Championships. Also, a frequently used venue for British Open Final Qualifying, Western Gailes is generally accepted as a difficult course. Positioned between the railway lines and the sea, its narrow fairways demand accurate tee shots and with so many greens tucked away in little hollows or dells, the course presents an excellent test of skill, patience and concentration.
As true a links course as one could imagine, Western Gailes presents an abundance of undulating dune ridges, heather and gorse, which will test the most accomplished golfer. And when the wind blows, the course is tougher still, becoming somewhat of an endurance test. Having just two par 5's and three short holes has no negative impact and every hole is a thrill to play. Though there are no weak holes, the long par five, 6th hole, playing from an elevated dune ridge to a partially hidden green, does stand out. Your drive on this hole, named after Lappock Rock, located just offshore, should ideally be positioned on the right side of a sloping fairway. This will leave a demanding second, which could with luck reach the green, given a well-struck shot right of the target.
When Western Gailes was celebrating its 50th anniversary, Sam McKinlay, a renowned commentator on the game, wrote an appreciation of the club as follows: "Western Gailes occupies a place in the affections of Scottish golfers that cannot be explained solely on the grounds of its undoubted quality or superb situation. Indeed its claim to renown cannot be limited to Scotland. In other parts of these islands and in the United States, the very mention of Western Gailes has brought a far-off look into the eyes of the listener, who has invariably remarked - "Ah, Western Gailes!" Western Gailes represents to the true golfer, to the connoisseur of the game, something approaching the ideal in golf". Sam's words remain true to this day!
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