Glasgow Gailes Golf Club©"...one of the world's truly great tests of links golf." That's what Sandy Lyle called Glasgow Gales. Not a bad compliment from someone who's won the British Open Championship and the Masters.
Glasgow Gailes Golf Club is a traditional Scottish links golf course located on the northernmost part of the fine stretch of Ayrshire links golf courses hugging the coast of southwest Scotland. Along this famous stretch of land are such suberb golf courses as Royal Troon, Turnberry--both Open Championship venues--Prestwick, home of the very first British Open, Western Gailes, Irvine Bogside, and Barassie. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews thinks so much of Glasgow Gailes that they have made it a final qualifying course for the Open Championship when it's played at Royal Troon and Turnberry. It's a tough, fair test of traditional Scottish golf.
As with most Scottish links golf course, this is not a hilly course. Challenging enough are the number of evergreens to contend with and elevated greens that are difficult to get to and tough to hold. The greens are superb, no dramatic slopes or ripples, just subtle breaks that can fool you into thinking the ball will break in another direction. But the greens are always in superb condition and run true. Glasgow Gailes' toughest test, though, is its rough. As their yardage book puts it "...acres and acres of tough calluna heather, that puts fear in men's hearts. Do not stray from the fairway." 'Nuff said?
When I first approached Glasgow Gailes to play it, I was a bit disappointed. As I said, it's quite flat and doesn't look like much of a test from the clubhouse. That's typical of so many of the Scottish links courses. Once out on the golf course my respect grew as my score grew. It's a tough test of golf. I played in good weather and it still gave me problems. Like the typical Scottish golf course, when the wind is blowing it will take on an even meaner disposition.
The rough can kill your score. Not only is it easy to find the rough, when your ball goes into the rough it's often difficult to find it because there are not many natural markers like trees or obvious landmarks with which to gauge where it goes out of bounds. Try to keep your eye on anything that goes into the rough, otherwise you'll be declaring a lost ball and hitting 3 before you know it. And while you are looking, be sure you don't hold up play. If it's obvious you can't find your ball quickly, wave the next group through.
Don't let the 6,535 yards fool you. Links golf courses should never be judged by length. Glasgow Gailes is a difficult golf course not because of sheer length or dramatic carries or intimidating topography. It is difficult because of its subtly designed holes with strategically placed bunkers on the undulating fairway and around the greens. It is difficult because of hills and valleys in front of greens that displace and redirect shots which are short of the green or slightly mis-hit. It is difficult because many greens are inverted saucers that you must come in high on and hold or you roll off the back or sides, leaving yourself with a delicate chip or a long, uphill putt from the fringes. It's a beautifully designed golf course and one you should put on your list to play. (And if you play exceptionally well here, reserve a tee time at the next Q School because you're ready for the big time.)
By the way, as with virtually all Scottish golf courses, no denim is allowed and if you are wearing shorts they must be tailored shorts. You are required to dress "smartly." And, please, NO CELL PHONES.
Golf Nook Scotland rating - BIRDIE
For What To Do All Day, please see the Ayrshire page.