The history and development of Glasgow Gailes somewhat mirror that of the many links courses along the East Lothian coast near Edinburgh. The likes of Gullane, North Berwick, and Muirfield all outgrew their previous surroundings as the game grew at the beginning of the 1900s, and that is what happened in Glasgow. Established initially at Glasgow Green, Queen’s Park and Alexandra Park, a group of members, sought to address the increasing overcrowding by looking elsewhere to set-up a club. Eventually, they found it, and in 1892 they chose the current location along the Ayrshire coastline. The railway ably assisted this band of Glasgow based businessmen to make their journey, the 35miles south-westwards to the coast, with a remaining couple of miles earned on foot. Eventually, due to the popularity of the route, the Glasgow and South Ayrshire Railway opened a station at Glasgow Gailes in 1894 to accommodate the increasing number of golfers traveling.
Head Professional at Troon, Willie Fernie was commissioned in 1892 to lay out the first rudimentary holes of the golf course, but it wasn’t until 1912 when two-time Open Championship winner Willie Park Jr. arrived to re-design the course layout. That makes Glasgow Gailes, the 9th oldest golf course in the world. It was subsequently lengthened in 1924 as a result of the purchase of land from the Duke of Portland that helped increase it to its now almost 7,000yards, but little else has changed since. A testament to the strength of Glasgow Gailes is the fact that it has been an Open Qualifying course since 1973 and between 2014-17 it was the sole Scottish Final Qualifying track. Host to The Palmer Cup, Scottish PGA Championships, Amateur Championships, Youth Championships and the oldest amateur strokeplay event in the world still in existence, The Tennant Cup, the quality of Gailes is undeniable.
Despite its location, almost a mile from the sea at some points, the links at Gailes is well used to being buffeted by the wind. The course has somewhat of a heathland feel about it. Vast expanses of dense rough and gorse, shrubs and trees cover a great deal of the links, giving it a slightly different feel from its near neighbors at Western Gailes which it immediately borders. That lack of coastline views could detract somewhat from the golf, were it not of course for the quality of the links itself.
Take the 4th and 5th for example, at 536yards; it is the longest hole on the golf course only to be immediately followed by the shortest, the par three, 152yard 6th. On the former, it is the skill of negotiating the strategically placed pot bunkers that are paramount, where at the latter, it is merely holding the target. This partially obscured green, sitting slightly below your tee position has a two-tier green that significantly undulates and is protected by three bunkers, one front and two left. Anything off target is in trouble, and a par here is a great score.
Glasgow Gailes is a beautiful traditional test of links golf, highly recommended by The Consummate Pro when playing the rest of the links gems along the Ayrshire Coast.