2-fore!-1 Golf in Scotland: West
17 Courses in West Dunbartonshire, Sanquhar, Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Whiting Bay, Tarbert, East Scotland, Port William , Isle of Bute, Lochgilphead, Argyll, Kintyre, Renfrewshire, Kirkcudbright, Alloa
Scotland , the 'Home of Golf', where the modern game of golf was developed. The first golf courses and golf clubs were established here, the first written rules and the 18 hole golf course originated here. Tournaments and competitions were held between different regions, and today Scotland has more courses per person than any other country.
Here in the West of Scotland, in October 1860 a foundation stone in golf history was laid, in effect, in the form of the inaugural Open Championship. At that time the world's top golfer, Allan Robertson, had died. To determine who would succeed him, a competition was held. Prestwick Golf Club organised this event. Golf clubs in England as well as Scotland received written invitations, calling for representatives to compete in a tournament that was then called a "Challenge Belt". The competitors had to be professionals ("cawdies" and "not keepers of links"). The competition was held over three rounds on the twelve hole golf course at Prestwick. One Englishman and seven Scotsmen competed in that first Open Championship, with the winner being Willie Park, over Tom Morris. For the next 60 years the Open Championship was held on the Prestwick Golf Club course.
As well as Prestwick, the West of Scotland has a number of beautiful and historic golf courses. Here are four of the best.
Prestwick Golf Club
Prestwick Golf Club, in South Ayrshire, is found about 30 miles (50 km) SW of Glasgow. The Irish Sea, - Firth of Clyde - defines the western boundary of the course. Here, at the "Birthplace of the Open Championship", this legendary links course is laid out on undulating sandy ground not too far from the beach. Some of the holes are along railway tracks, and railway sleepers fortify the infamous 'Cardinal' bunker: cavernous, and 50 yards across, at the third hole. An 18 hole course since 1882, six of the greens are still the originals, as are three of the holes. The river Pow, flowing through, presents a natural obstacle. Near the centre of the course are three sizable sand dunes. The winds can be quite ferocious. Prestwick Golf Club has also staged the Amateur Championship, eleven times.
Royal Troon Golf Club
Just north of the Prestwick course is the Royal Troon Golf Club. Its Old Course is a host course for the Open Championship and the club has hosted the Open nine times, including in 2016, and has hosted the Amateur Championship five times. Troon received 'Royal' status during the club centennial, in 1978. The Old Course runs along along the seaside for the first six holes then veers inland to dunes that are often covered in gorse, broom and other dense vegetation. The golf course at Royal Troon includes both the shortest (the 'Postage Stamp') and the longest ('The Railway') holes in the Open Golf Championship.
Machrihanish Golf Club
The Machrihanish Golf Club, on the southern tip of the Mull of Kintyre, began in 1876 as the Kintyre Golf Club then changed its name in 1888. The original 10 holes were expanded to 18 holes in 1879. The renowned first hole, 'The Battery', often considered the best opening hole in golf today, dates from that time. You tee off from above the beach, across the ocean if the tide is high. The sandy beach itself is in play. The remoteness of the course, the natural beauty of this rural setting and the ancient Scots history, all combine to lend a certain magic to the links at Machrihanish.
Western Gailes Golf Club
Only 45 minutes from Glasgow and 90 minutes from Edinburgh is Western Gailes Golf Club, founded in 1897. The course is set out on a narrow strip of land between the Firth of Clyde and railway tracks. Dunes frame this true links course while a creek (or burn) flows through and meets you three times along the way. The bunkering has been called devilish by members of the club, while the words "demanding", "challenging", "exacting" and "a true test of character and golfing skills" are most commonly used to describe the course at Western Gailes. As well, you will need to brace yourself against the westerly winds, which tend to be fierce. The centrally located clubhouse is warm and welcoming, and has glorious views over the Firth of Clyde.