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A guide to golf in Ayrshire, Scotland, birthplace of the Open Championship

By Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Ayrshire, Scotland is known for its rustic countryside and fertile land, with the occasional castle ruins around the corner. And no region of Scotland can boast three Open Championship hosts all within a 30-mile stretch of coastline like Ayrshire on the southwest coast, where the Ailsa Craig volcanic rock looms 10 miles offshore from Turnberry.

Prestwick Golf Club
Site of the first Open Championship in 1860, Prestwick Golf Club is one of three Open rota courses in Ayrshire.
Prestwick Golf ClubTurnberry's Ailsa course - hole 18 bunkerRoyal Troon golf course - hole 8

In fact, the Open Championship all began at Prestwick Golf Club in 1860, then just a 12-hole routing. Today, there's a full 18 holes, but many of the course's old world intricacies, from blind shots to the famous "Sahara" bunker on the 17th, will keep the modern player on edge.

Located just north, Royal Troon is the relevant test for today's top golfers as the area's most regular Open Championship venue.

Turnberry's Ailsa Course, which hosted the 2009 Open after a 15-year drought, is the prettiest and most modern of the bunch, thanks mostly to a course redesign after the links were used as an airfield during World War II. Today, two 18-hole courses complement Turnberry's more than 100-year-old five star hotel.

The best links outside the Open rota is Western Gailes, an Open qualifier closer to Glasgow than the other three, while Glasgow Gailes and Dundonald Links are worthy (and more affordable) solid seconds.

From Glasgow, you can also make the drive out onto the Mull of Kintyre, where legendary Machrihanish and its new neighbor, Machrihanish Dunes, offer some of Scotland's most remote links.

Getting to the golf courses of Ayrshire

Prestwick Airport (PIK) is a good option, though Glasgow Airport (GLA) receives flights from more international and long-haul destinations and is about 30 miles from Prestwick. Edinburgh (EDI) is less than two hour's drive to Prestwick.

TravelGolf.com's five best bets in Ayrshire

Prestwick, Old Course
Royal Troon, Championship
Turnberry, Ailsa
Western Gailes
Dundonald Links

Brandon TuckerBrandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Is this it?

    Joe wrote on: Sep 28, 2009

    What the heck is this? That has to be the shortest most annoying "story" I've ever read on this rag. Man, why bother with nothing crap like this?
    Not worth the cyber space it is floating on. Pitiful.


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