Scottish Links Golf
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Just east of Edinburgh
Scotland's Golf Coast
Muirfield, North Berwick, Gullane....
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What others say
Irvine Golf Club Bogside ©Sprinkled throughout the coasts and highlands of Scotland are some of the most challenging, enjoyable and beautiful golf courses in the world. For the life of me I can't understand why there are so many of these fine golf courses that are virtually undiscovered. "Hidden Gems" is the phrase that's often used. Perhaps it's the out-of-the-way locations that make them so little known. Perhaps in The Irvine Golf Club's case it is its close proximity to the great Royal Troon and Turnberry golf courses. Whatever it is, The Irvine Golf Club golf course is a prime example of the genre.
This is a golf course so highly regarded by the R & A that they use it as a final qualifying golf course for the Open Championship when it is played at Royal Troon and Turnberry. It's also been used for the British Amateur and the 2001 British Ladies final. It's one fine golf course and one you should play if you get a chance. But you'll probably never play it if you go to Scotland on a golf tour because the tour operators seldom if ever choose courses like this. However, as an independent golf traveler, you can pick and choose your golf courses and get to play fabulous golf courses that few visitors have even heard of.
Irvine Bogside was founded in 1887-- rather young by Scottich golfing standards. But the layout was updated in the '20s by the one of the most famous and talented golf course architects of all time, James Braid, whose name adorns so many Scottish links. Built between the town of Irvine and the River Irvine, it's a golf course that demands accurate shotmaking and, at 6,423 yards (6,116/70 off the forward tees) and a par 71, a bit of length too. The AFSD is 183 yards, about average for the Scottish links courses. However, the layout is a bit different. There is only one par 5 and two par 3s--bad news for not-very-long hitters like me. And there are five par 4s over 400 yards: 411, 418, 429, 456 and 465. If the wind is in my face, I'm not going to reach any of them in two and even without a wind I can't make it to the long ones in two. So if you're not long off the tee, make sure you've brought your short game with you.
There's lots of heather on the golf course. It's beautiful when in bloom, but a pain in the neck to get out of at any time. The first hole has heather on both sides of the fairway, so start your round in the center. You'll need to be there because the second shot is blind to a saucer green. Aim for the marker and choose your club carefully. You'll want to start with a par, although at 417 yards this hole is no pushover.
You'll play the one and only par 5 on the next hole. It's a 476 yarder,but difficult to birdie because you need lots of length off the tee to get yourself into position. Take what the golf course gives you.
Number 5 is an interesting hole. It's called SANDFACE! Guess why? There's a large bunker set smack dab in the face of a steep bank fronting the green. This calls for a blind second shot to an elevated green. And you have probably guessed by now, don't get your ball in SANDFACE--it has a big mouth!
Every hole on Irvine Bogside is different. Some are very imaginative. Number 3 at 358 yards is a drive and a short iron. However, the iron has to carry over a deceptively wide valley. It's easy to come up short and see your ball dribble back down the side into the valley, leaving you with a devilish recovery.
I like the fact that the golf course eases up a bit at the end. The 16th is a short par 3 and the 18th is a 333 yard par 4. The 17th, though, can spoil your day, so be careful. If you're having a good round, put your thinking cap on at 17 and get your second shot close to the pin. The green is large and difficult to read.
All in all, Irvine Bogside is an enjoyable golf course and I feel it is one of the true hidden gems of Scotland, especially in Ayrshire. Give it a play. I'm sure you won't be sorry.
Golf Nook Scotland rating - BIRDIE
For What to Do All Day, please refer back to Ayrshire