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Scottish Links Golf

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Western Gailes

Just east of Edinburgh
Scotland's Golf Coast
Gullane, Muirfield, North Berwick...

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St.Andrews area

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What others say
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Western Gailes Golf Club

Few links golf courses look intimidating at first sight. When you see the fabulous links courses at St. Andrews or Carnoustie for the first time you'll probably think, "What's all the fuss about?" especially if you see them when the sun is high in the sky and there are few shadows. That's because there are no trees or hills, and the lumps and bumps and hollows in the fairways and the deep, punishing bunkers are difficult to discern. At dawn or dusk it's another story.

Not so with Western Gailes. This fine links golf course looks fierce when you first approach it at any time of day. It makes you unconsciously hunch your shoulders, pull your knees together, and fold your arms in a protective pose. The only other golf course that looks as menacing is Cruden Bay. In both cases, looks are NOT deceiving. Western Gailes really IS a fierce golf course and, yes, it will bite you if you are not careful. In fact, it will bite you if you ARE careful! Western Gailes is a fire-breathing dragon disguised as a golf course--one you will remember and talk about long after you play it.

Western Gailes Golf Club, on the southwest coast of Scotland
Western Gailes Golf Club on the Ayrshire coast

Western Gailes is a classic out and back links golf course. Actually, it's an out and back and out and back again golf course and it's only two fairways wide with a railroad on one side and the Firth of Clyde on the other. Of course the wind is above--don't forget the wind. Holes 1 thru 4 begin the outward trek of your round. The golf course then turns back 180 degrees and holes 5 thru 13 bring you back in the opposite direction toward the clubhouse and then out again. Another 180 turn brings you home and holes 14 thru 18 are played in the same direction you started. I'm not sure why, but I seem to like this type of layout better than 1 thru 9 out and10 thru 18 back. With prevailing southwesterly and northwesterly winds blowing off the Firth of Clyde, it seems you'll have a small breather no matter which way the wind is blowing. And you get to experience the line of dunes running down the coastal stretch from different directions.

The first time I saw Western Gailes the sun was low in the sky and I could clearly see the shadows cast by the dunes under the fairway grass. A pretty good wind was blowing and the long rough was waving like the mane on an angry lion--the golf course seemed just as unapproachable and made me think this was one tough golf course. The par 71 with a Standard Scratch Score of 74 was all I needed to be convinced I was right. There are lots of pot bunkers dotted in strategic positions throughout the golf course and a meandering creek (called a "burn") which will pester you and act like a magnet for your golf balls. Plus there is a line of dunes on your right on holes 5 thru 13 and an out-of-bounds wall on your right coming home on 14 thru 18. Slicer's beware! After a round on this golf course the clubhouse will look like paradise.

Western Gailes golf course, as seen from the bridge Your first glimpse of Western Gailes will whet your appetite to play this wonderful and challenging links golf course Western Gailes is a fire-eating dragon

Western Gailes is definitely worth a play. It's a long course with an AFSD of 192 yards--a demanding golf course but a fair one. The greens run true and there are no hidden surprises. Everything you need to know is right out there facing you on every shot. Of course, that's part of the challenge. More than anything else, golf is a mind-game and Western Gailes will work on your mind on every shot. The only way to play the golf course is to put aside all the things that can go wrong and concentrate on your golf swing. Don't be too daring. Take what the golf course gives you. Sometimes that will be a bogey, sometimes a double. Just take it and go on to the next hole. There are lots of pars out there, a few birdies and, if it's your day, who knows, maybe even an eagle!

Pace of play:
I love this one so I'll quote Western Gailes verbatim. "It is considered that 3 1/2 hours is an appropriate time for completion of one round of golf." No, that's not a misprint. It is typical of Scottish golf courses that they consider a round of golf should take 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours. Anything over 4 hours is unacceptable.

Golf Nook Scotland rating - BIRDIE

For What to Do All Day, please visit the Ayrshire page.