Western Gailes Golf Club

Irvine, United Kingdom

For being one of the best-kept secrets in Scottish golf, Western Gailes Golf Club is not as tucked away as you might expect. Founded in 1897, Western Gailes is only a 10-minute drive north of Troon.

Like many of the other courses in Ayrshire, the Western Gailes links is nestled between the railway and the sea. Errant golfers beware, as both are very much in play. The course is only two holes wide, making it one of Ayrshire’s narrowest, made narrower still by three meandering burns. As if that wasn’t enough pressure, there’s no shortage of wind to be charted into your game at Western Gailes, as the club’s name suggests.

Since it occupies such a thin strip of linksland, nine of Western Gailes’ holes are played along the sea, the other nine play along the railway. In the middle of it all is the centrally located clubhouse, another one of Western Gailes’ charmingly unconventional features. Inside the clubhouse you’ll find everything from a cozy smoke room furnished with comfortable, well-worn furniture to a club museum showcasing artifacts and photographs from the club’s illustrious past.

Outside the clubhouse, a stiff golfing test awaits. The Western Gailes links measures more than 6,700 yards from the back tees, and golfers should expect to use every club in the bag. The 197-yard, par-three seventh is especially trying, with a green that sits in a ring of dunes like the stage of an arena. Trying as it might be, seeing your ball take center stage will make it all worth it.