Western Gailes Golf Club Course Review

Set between railway and sea, the recently improved Western Gailes in Ayrshire delivers an exacting challenge over the purest golfing terrain

Western Gailes Golf Club
Photo: Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Set between railway and sea, the recently improved Western Gailes in Ayrshire delivers an exacting challenge over the purest golfing terrain

Western Gailes Golf Club Course Review

Top 100 Ranking 2021/22 - 47

Previous Rankings 2019/20 - 49 2017/18 - 52 2015/16 - 54 2013/14 - 52 2011/12 - 51 2009/10 - 46

Summer Green Fees

Round: £185wd/we; 36 holes: £245wd only

Visitor Times: Visitor Times: Mon, Weds, Fri – 9am to 12midday and 2pm to 4.30pm; Tues, Thurs – 2pm to 3pm; Sat – 3.30pm to 4.30pm; Sun – 2.30pm to 4pm (weekday rounds include lunch).

Medal Tee – Par 71 – 6,640 Yards

Website: www.westerngailes.com (opens in new tab)

Changes since previous ranking

There have been some significant changes since 2019 after consultation with Mackenzie and Ebert. Fairway bunkers that had been revetted for some time are all being restored to their former, more natural state.

A number have also been repositioned in keeping with the modern game. Others that were no longer necessary or in play have been removed, including some greenside ones replaced with impressive run-offs.

The burn fronting the 10th and 16th greens has been realigned to its original route on 16, with a new greenside run-off area now in place left of the 10th green. The ridge  dominating the 17th fairway has been removed and replaced with more fairway to complement the undulations of the existing fairway.

Western Gailes Golf Club Course Review

For many golfers, this venerable old course overlooking Arran on the Ayrshire coast just north of Royal Troon, gets pretty close to pure links heaven.

Western Gailes Golf Club

Western Gailes plays on a slender links strip between railway and sea (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It dates back to 1897 and plays over a classically slender links strip, often only two holes wide, between sea and railway. It heads first north then south for a long stretch, before a final five-hole northward trek back to the central clubhouse.

Related: Top 100 courses UK and Ireland

Sandhills and sea views abound as you tackle one glorious links hole after another. But despite its age and traditional feel, Western Gailes rarely relies on blind shots for protection.

Western Gailes Golf Club

The 6th is one of strong run of holes along the shore (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It prefers to use the natural terrain and a number of cunningly placed bunkers to make you think. That, along with the ever-present Firth breeze and some inconveniently located burns.

Those bunkers have been changing character of late as the club works to restore them to their more natural state under the guidance of Mackenzie and Ebert.

Some excellent new run-off areas have been replacing certain greenside traps to bring a different element to your short-game recovery options.

Amphitheatre greens

The sandhills may not be as towering as on certain 21st-century links. But few make as stunningly effective use of the natural routing between dune ridges as Western Gailes.

A number of holes play to isolated greens set in shallow natural amphitheatres. The 6th and excellent par-3 7th greens stand out in this regard.

The latter has an amphitheatre feel for its entire length on account of the dune ridge along the beach to the right and a slightly lower one flanking the left.

Western Gailes Golf Club

The 7th hole has a real amphitheatre feel to it (Photo: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s a real sense of awe and occasion when you play these holes, even if you’re on your own.

There are many great stretches of coastal holes around these shores. But there may just be no better run anywhere than Western Gailes’ southbound stretch from the 5th to 13th along the Firth of Clyde.

Assessor Feedback

I really enjoyed the visual appeal of Western Gailes. The superb bunkering and course conditioning really frame the holes and everything is “out there in front of you to see”.

Superb bunkering. The course is reminiscent of Royal Lytham in that the bunkering generally dictates your strategy for playing the holes across what is, essentially, flat linksland.

GM Verdict

Set between railway and sea, the recently improved Western Gailes in Ayrshire delivers an exacting challenge over the purest golfing terrain.



Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and instruction. He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, a highly regarded trade publication for golf club secretaries and managers, and has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played well over 950 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, right across the spectrum from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response