Golf in Ayrshire offers something for every taste and budget
This week the world's best female golfers gather for the AIG Women's Open in Ayrshire on the west coast of Scotland. The first major of the year will take place without fans at the world class Championship Course of Royal Troon Golf Club. This course hosted the men's Open Championship, outside the United Kingdom known as British Open, ten times, most recently in 2016. No wonder, that this course is on the bucket list of many golfers, even though the club charges £ 260 green fee. Royal Troon boasts another very good links course called Portland. Both courses can be played with a day ticket for £ 300.
Many golfers travel to Ayrshire to play the three most famous courses: Prestwick where modern tournament golf was born in 1860 with the first Open Championship, Turnberry which hosted the Open four times, most recently in 2009 and Troon. Due to the great demand to play these courses golfers are willing to dive pretty deep into their pockets. But you don't have to pay a fortune to play great links courses. Ayrshire boasts almost 50 courses, so every golfer will find a green playground which fits his or her budget. Great links courses like Dundonald Links, site of the Scottish Open of the European and European Ladies Tour, Barassie Links and Irvine Bogside have joined forces and offer the Ayrshire Links Experience, a chance to play this fabulous trio at a bargain price. More attractive offers like the Gailes Golf Experience, Open Links of Ayrshire or the South Ayrshire Golf pass can be found by going to the website
The town of Troon (population 15,000) with Troon Links provide three municipal golf courses for locals and visiting golfers alike close to Royal Troon. Even though the Darley Course (6301 Yards or 5762 m/Par 71) is not long by modern standards this classic links course challenges even low handicappers. Average golfers tend to like Lochgreen most. This unique mixture of a links and parkland course is the longest (6822 Yards or 6228 m/Par 74) and even for professionals no pushover. Just ask Jack Nicklaus. The 80 year old legend shot a 82 in the first round of the Open qualifier in 1962. But with a 68 the next day the "Golden Bear" qualified for his first British Open.
Fullarton Course is ideal for beginners and high handicappers since this Par-64-track measures only 4867 Yards (4450 m) and only one Par 4 is longer than 400 Yards (366 m). But even accomplished golfers should play this course to sharpen their short iron play and distance control. Golfers get around this course in less than three hours. By buying the Troon Links Experience you can play all three courses for just £ 65. Or you opt for the Mini Experience which is just £ 45.
For golfers who like some variety from links golf, the area offers some great inland golf and probably the finest of them all is Largs Golf Club towards the north of the region. Largs is affectionately known in the area as Ayrshire's Augusta as the greens are like silk with azalea bushes dotted around the course. The views down the Firth of Clyde can be rather distracting. Largs Golf Club green fees are £49 in the summer making it a great choice for budget conscious golfers. Rowallan Castle in the east of the region was designed by Scottish professional Colin Montgomerie. Set in a stunning estate the course weaves its way around old castles, highland cows and the moorlands it is situated on. Green fees are just £ 25 on weekdays and £ 30 on weekends. And they will even throw in an extra hole. That's right they have a par 3 19th hole.
Ayrshire also offers friendly places to stay that won't break the bank. Troon is always a popular spot for golfers and there a few good options here. The Old Loans Inn has won Scotland's Tourism Award as best small golf hotel three years in a row (2017 – 2019). You could stay in a room named after Tom Watson or one of the local courses. Their breakfasts are fantastic. In the center of town you have the South Beach hotel which is owned and operated by Stewart Watt. Stewart is a keen golfer and a member at Royal Troon (he may even take you for a game). South Beach is a lovely traditional Scottish seaside hotel with a great bar with some fantastic local beers and ales. A little further up the coast you have the Gailes Hotel which is neighbours with the great links of Dundonald Links, Gailes Links and Western Gailes. With a driving range on site, a short beginner's course, a sports bar with indoor golf simulator, a spa and a golf store next door Gailes Hotel is a popular choice for visiting golfers.
A golf trip doesn't finish after the course and Ayrshire has some great 19th holes. Just to name a few in the town of Prestwick. The Red Lion is a must, it was a hangout for Old Tom Morris in his time (1851 to 1864) in Prestwick as the keeper of the greens and professional. The Golf Inn is another popular spot in Prestwick with a great old school style cosy pub with live entertainment at the weekends. It's a great spot to catch up with other golfers on a trip.
Golf can be as expensive as you make it, but Ayrshire offers experiences no matter what your budget might be.
For further information on accommodation and golf in Ayrshire please go to www.ayrshiregolfscotland.com
Helma Scheffler Public Relations