Ann Liguori on Golf: A Bucket List Adventure in SW Scotland

Dundonald Links golf course in Scotland
Dundonald Links
Patrick J. Koenig

With the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland in full swing, I thought I would share a golf trip itinerary to SW Scotland I recently experienced that you’ll want to add to your bucket list.

About 40 minutes from Glasgow Airport is Dundonald Links in the county of Ayrshire. It’s a modern links, stunning layout designed by Kyle Phillips, with five-star facilities including a beautiful, large clubhouse, restaurant, and luxury cottages. Dundonald is a perfect location to stay and play.

Dundonald Links – Scotland

Dundonald Links has wide fairways and undulating greens. Strategically placed bunkers will certainly test your accuracy and skill level, but the generous fairways and a wide choice of tees ensure that golfers of all ability levels will enjoy this links experience.

The resort offers a large practice facility with a driving range, short game area and practice greens. And there is a state-of-the-art fitness center inside the modern clubhouse.

It’s no wonder the resort property has already hosted the Women’s Scottish Open in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Scottish Open in 2017, and will again host the 2022 Women’s Scottish Open in addition to being the venue for Final Qualifying for The Open in 2023.

I was also very impressed with the culinary experience in their Cranny Crow Restaurant with views across the Firth of Clyde from the wraparound veranda of the Clubhouse.

Royal Troon – Scotland

Royal Troon was founded in 1878 and oozes with golf history. The club has hosted ten Open Championships and will be the venue for the 2024 Open Championship.

Americans won six straight Open Championships at Royal Troon — Justin Leonard, Mark Calcavecchia, Tom Watson, Tom Weiskopf, Arnold Palmer, Bobby Locke and Arthur Havers won from 1962–2004.

Henrik Stenson beat Phil Mickelson by three shots in the 2016 Open Championship, the last time it was played at Royal Troon. In 2020, Royal Troon hosted the Women’s Open which was won by Sophia Popov of Germany. She was ranked 304th in the world at the time.

Royal Troon has so many signature holes, the Postage Stamp being its most famous. The par 3, 8th hole plays 123 yards from an elevated tee to a very small green. It’s the shortest par 3 in Open Championship golf. The hole drops over a gully to a long and very narrow green that is set into the side of a sandhill.

Famous Postage Stamp hole, par 3, 8th hole, Royal Troon, SW Scotland
Famous Postage Stamp hole, par 3, 8th hole, Royal TroonPatrick J. Koenig

The Postage Stamp at Royal Troon

There are two bunkers protecting the left side of the green and a large crater bunker is in front. Will Park coined the name “Postage Stamp” writing in Golf Illustrated: “a pitching surface skimmed down to the size of a postage stamp …”

Royal Troon’s par 5, 6th is the longest par 5 in Open Championship history, playing 601 yards.

The clubhouse at Royal Troon is full of history with golf memorabilia and photographs. Allow time to enjoy their cozy bar which overlooks the 18th green while sipping their signature Royal Troon House Lager, brewed for them by Belhaven.

Prestwick Golf Club – Scotland

Prestwick Golf Club was the original site for the Open Championship, dating back to 1860. A group of 57 members who were regulars at the Red Lion Inn in town, formed the golf club.

Ol’ Tom Morris uprooted his family from St. Andrews and moved to Prestwick to design, build and maintain the original 12-holes, and also assisted Prestwick in 1882 when they extended the links course to 18 holes.

Prestwick hosted 24 Open Championships, the last one being in 1925. The winner from the first Open Championship, Willie Park Sr., over Tom Morris Sr., was presented with a red Morocco Challenge Belt.

The Challenge Belt was awarded to the winner of The Open Championship from 1860 until 1870. It was replaced by the Claret Jug for the 1872 Open Championship which is still being used to this day.

Willie Park Sr. and Tom Morris Sr., won the Open Championship at Prestwick, four times each. And Tom Morris Jr. captured the title four straight years.

If you’re playing Prestwick for the first time, play with a caddie or someone who is familiar with the course. It’s a quirky lay out with lots of blind shots, challenging elevation, and intriguing routing. The greens are small, the bunkers are deep, and many are hidden.

The tee box for the short opening hole is a few steps away from the clubhouse with a wall and railway framing the right side. A church and cemetery to the right provides an interesting backdrop as you start your golfing adventure on this most entertaining and compelling links design.

The 17th hole, originally the 2nd hole, is the oldest existing hole in championship golf. The par 4 hole is called “The Alps,” with a blind approach over the Alps dune and on the other side, a massive “Sahara” bunker awaits, between the dune and the green.

Prestwick is tons of fun to play once you know your way around!

Western Gailes Golf Club – Scotland

Western Gailes Golf Club neighbors Dundonald Links and is situated between the railway and the sea. The strong winds off the Firth of Clyde make this course an excellent test of true links golf.

Navigating the deep pot bunkers and meandering burns was challenging enough. Throw in wind gusts up to 50 mph the afternoon we played, and it became an ultimate test of shot-making and stamina.

Pushing the pull-cart against the high winds was quite the workout in and of itself in addition to navigating the rolling links land, high dunes, deep pot bunkers and burns.

The signature hole is the par 3, 7th, surrounded by dunes and protected by waste areas and pot punkers. Eight holes are exposed to the coastline making for stunning views.

The County of Ayrshire in SW Scotland is one of the best golf destinations in the world with over 45 courses to choose from. And this time of year in Scotland, the sun comes out at around 6 a.m. and sets past 10 p.m. so you’ll have plenty of daylight to get in as much golf as you desire.

Ann Liguori is a trailblazer in sports broadcasting. You can hear her “Talking Golf” show on Sundays, 7–8 a.m., on WFAN-NY, her “Sports Innerview” show on Saturdays, 7–8 a.m. on WLIW 88.3 FM, and her weekly podcasts on SI Golf/Morning Read.

For more information on Liguori, visit annliguori.com.

Know an East End golf tourney winner we should write about? Send ideas to [email protected].

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