There is a local Scottish rhyme that goes:
Troon and Prestwick— old and classy.
Bogside, Dundonald, Gailes, Barassie.
Prestwick St Nicholas, Western Gailes,
St Cuthbert, Portland—memory fails—
Troon Municipal (three links there)
Prestwick Municipal, Irvine, Ayr.
They faced the list with delighted smiles—
Sixteen courses within ten miles.
With three Open venues and an exceptionally strong supporting cast, the west coast is just waiting to be explored.
If the trinity of Open venues make up the most obvious ports of call, staying a little longer is essential to take in a supporting cast of both depth and quality.
Top of the list must be Western Gailes, an Ayrshire institution created to provide a year-round playground for Glasgow businessmen who could hop off the train and straight into the clubhouse.
The station has sadly long since gone but what remains is a links of the highest quality. The layout is unusual – a racetrack circuit beginning halfway down the home straight. It means you begin heading north before an unbroken run of 10 successive holes with the Irish Sea to your right. This is rare if not unique.
The final stretch sees the railway loom large and signifies either a fearsome run for home or the merciful end of a two-hour stretch battling the wind.
There are simply no poor holes here, and several outstanding ones, with the 17th, where you must traverse a diagonal ridge with your second shot, certainly the hardest and arguably the best.
The clubhouse is every bit as impressive, a building designed to withstand wild west coast winters, with a set of locker rooms that should be listed buildings in their own right.