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What others say

Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club

Barassie had the misfortune of being born close to two famous Open Championship golf courses -- the renowned Scottish links of Royal Troon and Turnberry. And so like those great golfers who plied their skills in the shadow of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus or those who play in the shadow of Tiger Woods, Kilmarnock Golf Club suffers in comparison. Not as physically beautiful as the classic Scottish links golf course, it is nonetheless a fine traditional links golf course, beautifully maintained with undulating fairways, fierce rough, punishing bunkers and true greens. And because it has been used as a final qualifying golf course when the Open Championship is played at Royal Troon and Turnberry, the Royal and ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (governing body ot the Briitish Open Championship) obviously consider it to be a first class championship golf course. I agree. It's definitely worth a play.

First tee at Barassie Golf Club
Barassie Links 1st tee

Barassie is a final qualifying course for the Open Championship

Barassie is a relatively long golf course by Scottish golfing standards -- 6,817 yards off the medal tees and 6,484 off the visitor's tees. With the almost constant wind that blows in Scotland, this can be a real problem if that wind is in your face (which it always seems to be!). Anyone who has played Barassie years ago will be pleased to know there have been nine new holes added, but they haven't made the course any easier. In fact the par 72, SS rating of 74, proves that.

Barassie is not for the faint of heart

Barassie has rather large greens with the usual undulations that make putting on Scottish links so challenging. The greens, however, are kept in great shape. There are deep bunkers not only surrounding the greens but in the fairways as well. In the States fairway bunkers seldom cost more than half a stroke. Not so in Scotland, where bunkers mean business. You won't go hitting a fairway wood out of any of these. Quite a few doglegs, too, which I feel always add interest to the game. Especially noteworthy is the new double dogleg #8, a 519 yard par 5 just about unreachable in two.

The first hole is the kind I appreciate. At 501 yards and a par 5 it is a gentle introduction to a day of golf. Hit the ball straight--not necessarily long--and you'll get your par. Number 2, though, quickly brings you to your senses. It doesn't look like much at only 376 yards, but it's rated the 5th most difficult. That should tell you something, Fierce bunkers guard both sides of the fairway and 4 more guard the green. Any mistake is costly. Number 3 will not give you any mercy either. As I mentioned above, it was the most difficult hole on the golf course before the new holes were added and it hasn't gotten any easier. It's a 365 yard par 4 (430 yards off the medal tees!) and you will need a great drive to get you into position for any kind of chance at par. This hole can wreck your score (and your confidence) early. The green slopes toward 2 bunkers on the right, so be warned. Four holes later you are faced with what many think is the most difficult hole on the golf course--number 7. This 427 yard par 4 has undulations in the fairway as if a pod of whales has been planted there, so even a good drive can give you a sidehill lie. The green is guarded by mounds and bunkers. This hole is definitely a challenge, and you can be satisfied with a par or even a bogey.

Kilmarnock Golf Club's "Barassie Links" has it all

Plentiful, strategically placed fairway bunkers, humpback green fronts, mounds, gorse, whins, rippled fairways, tiered greens -- Barassie has it all. It's a golf course you'd do well to think your way around. Hitting the ball hard and long is not always the play if your driving is not always accurate. A judicious use of your 3 wood for a more accurate tee shot will serve you well. It will keep you short of some of the fairway bunkers and will put you in position to go for the green with the greenside bunkers taken out of play.

Barassie Clubhouse and 18th green
Barassie 18th green and clubhouse

So what's the verdict? I think Barassie is a wonderfrul golf course and would rate it higher IF it were in a different neighborhood. But the fact is, it's so close to Royal Troon, Turnberry and Prestwick makes me hedge my opinion because it would have to be your 4th choice of play if you were in the area. However, if you have the time or if you're on a budget (the cost of playing Barassie is less than half of the more famous others in the area and it's a lot more than half the fun) I'd urge you to give it a play.

Once again you win as an independent golfer because you save lots of money and get to play a fine golf course never seen by the usual group tours.

Golf Nook Scotland rating = PAR.

www.kbgc.co.uk


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