History

DESIGNED BY A CHAMPION

When Willie Fernie, the 1883 Open Champion designed the first Dundonald Links course, he certainly drew upon all his previous experience of laying out courses. By the time Fernie came to lay out the Dundonald course in 1911, he had been responsible for dozens of designs throughout the country, both North and South of the border. Dundonald Links was officially formed on March 23rd 1911 and was to officially open within three months.

Fernie employed the services of John Tulloch, the Glasgow Gailes professional to supervise the work, and the two of them were about to construct one of the longest golf courses of its time. Even though the Haskell ball ( which flew further than the old gutty ) had been in use for some ten years it was still in its infancy, and expecting the day to day golfer of the age to tackle this 6700 yard monster was a big ask. however, with the advent of new grass cutting machinery for the fairways with better roll, and Fernie’s magical genius, the Dundonald Links course became extremely popular, especially with the elite amateurs and professionals of the day.

“ The new course is one of the longest in the country, the round measuring about 6700 Yards ”
Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, June 30th 1911

Work began shortly after the initial opening on a new clubhouse, designed in accordance with the most modern ideas of it’s time. It featured a dining-room, a smoke-room, box-rooms, and lavatories, as well as accommodation for ladies on the ground floor, and has a well-fitted clubmaster’s house on the first storey. At the formal opening in 1913, Mr J. Harling Turner, (factor to the Duke of Portland) commented on the ‘rapid progress golf had made in that part of the county,’ and went on to announce that the Duke Of Portland would present a cup to the club for the annual competition, as well as a badge to the winners of that cup.

A mere 5 years elapsed before the club would have to close its doors in 1918 due to WW1, and remained closed for a further four years until June 1920. To re-open the course the club organised an open amateur tournament, and in 1922, James Braid visited and supplied a new bunkering plan of the course to the club.


Work began shortly after the initial opening on a new clubhouse, designed in accordance with the most modern ideas of it’s time. It featured a dining-room, a smoke-room, box-rooms, and lavatories, as well as accommodation for ladies on the ground floor, and has a well-fitted clubmaster’s house on the first storey. At the formal opening in 1913, Mr J. Harling Turner, (factor to the Duke of Portland) commented on the ‘rapid progress golf had made in that part of the county,’ and went on to announce that the Duke Of Portland would present a cup to the club for the annual competition, as well as a badge to the winners of that cup.

A mere 5 years elapsed before the club would have to close its doors in 1918 due to WW1, and remained closed for a further four years until June 1920. To re-open the course the club organised an open amateur tournament, and in 1922, James Braid visited and supplied a new bunkering plan of the course to the club.

Both the club and course prospered throughout the 1920s and 30s, continuing with their weekly club competitions and medals, but no one could have foreseen the disastrous circumstances which were about to unfold in the world, which, would culminate in the closure of the course. In 1940 W.W.2 had arrived in Ayrshire and the military wanted the Dundonald Links golf course. Within a very short space of time the army had commandeered the course, clubhouse, and the footsteps of golfers were replaced by the marching of men in uniform, and amphibious tanks careering over the fairways and greens.

According to the secretary of the club at the time, the course was unrecognisable within a week of their arrival. The military maintained their occupation of the site throughout the war years, extending their right to remain as an army camp into the 1960s.

When Kyle Phillips came to Scotland and first laid eyes on the links at Dundonald in 2003, one can only wonder what his initial thoughts were. It had been 70 plus years since the last heavy machinery in the form of tanks had crossed the famous links, formerly known as Southern Gailes, but now a different type of modern machinery would commandeer the links once again, this time as the saviour, bringing back the life and soul of golf to Ayrshire once again.

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