The 500-yard Bunker's Hill 5th holeThe 6th hole known as Lappock18th a fitting finale
You can feel the sense of history when you walk into the clubhouse at Western Gailes, and the members still have a rule that they must turn up in a jacket and tie and leave wearing a jacket and tie. But don’t worry, that rule doesn’t extend to non-members.
It wasn’t until 1930 that play was allowed on Sundays, some 33 years after the course was founded by four Glasgow-based golfers who came across the perfect piece of land next to Gailes station on the South Western railway line to Glasgow. On 11 November 1897 Western Gailes was born and with no designer in place the green keeper Mr Morris was given the task of having nine holes ready by early the following year, with the full 18 holes coming online that June! I must admit after walking off the 18th green I’m not sure if Mr Morris was a green keeper or genius – his course design stands up there with any Dr Alister MacKenzie, Harry Colt, Donald Ross or James Briad course design.
After a few months it was agreed that a clubhouse would be built and life membership was granted to those who paid £5 ($7.81 or €6.22) towards the £600 needed. Now I’ve heard of value for money, but that is just plan ridiculous. Those members must have been dancing round those links instead of walking for the rest of their lives.
Again I’m not going to go into detail about each hole as you’ll take something from the first through to the 18th. It’s a course that will challenge you mentally, physically and every club in your bag. No doubt you’ve heard of the famous run of holes along the sea from the fifth to 13th. Whatever you have read and been told, it’s all true and more. You really do have to experience playing them yourself – they are some of the most enjoyable holes you’ll ever play.
I’ll finish this review with one of the world’s most eloquent commentators on the game of golf, who just so happened to be a member of Western Gailes. On its 50th anniversary Sam McKinlay wrote: ‘Western Gailes occupies a place in the affections of Scottish golfers that cannot be explained solely on the ground of its undoubted quality, its superb situation or the creature comforts which it furnishes. Indeed its claim to renown cannot be limited to Scotland. In other parts of these islands, and in the United States, my mention of the Gailes has brought a far-off look into the eyes of the listener, who has invariably remarked, “‘Ah, Western Gailes!”’