Gailes Golf: Leisure to give it its full name is a 9 hole course that sits alongside a hotel and leisure complex on the outskirts of the North Ayrshire town Irvine. There is a branch of the chain American Golf and a driving range with a few PGA pros available for lessons. I’m familiar with it as I started taking lessons there earlier this year. Life kind of got in the way over the summer months and I haven’t had one since May but I’ve been in to use the range a few times. The facilities are considerably better than my more local range at Roodlea so the extra drive can be worth it.
It sits in illustrious company – something the course’s website notes. Literally next door is Dundonald Links, as is Western Gailes. It has to be said though that it doesn’t really live up to the standards of its neighbours…
Gailes (or North Gailes as my golf app referred to it) is a 9 hole course consisting of four par 3 and five par 4 holes (on the gents tees). If you want to play eighteen some of the holes have dual tees to vary the lengths on the “out” and “in” parts of the round.
Indeed, I inadvertently played off the 11th tee instead of the 2nd which made the hole a few yards longer.
There is one lengthy par 3 (the 200 yard 4th Old Loans) and one lengthy par 4 (433 6th Waterside) but otherwise the holes are not particularly long. This suited me fine however as I am still quite a short hitter. (Something I hope to address in due course in my lessons but hitting the ball straight is taking priority at the moment.)
The 3rd is a dogleg playing from a tee enclosed by trees and the 6th plays through a gap in foliage but otherwise it is quite a nondescript course, fairly featureless.
There is a pond on the 6th fairway but it doesn’t’ really come into play unless you are really short of the green with your approach.
Furthermore, despite its location in the heart of Ayrshire links land, it is definitely of the parkland type. Depending on your preference this may or may not be a negative point.
Perhaps one point of note is the shared green that hosts both the 6th and the 9th flag.
Apart from its lack of character, the other main issue I had with Gailes was the condition of the course. When I reached the first green I was a little taken aback by the green – it was not in a good way at all. It was patchy, with weeds in amongst the grass itself. Fortunately it played better than it looked and my ball didn’t bobble too much when I putted. The photo doesn’t really show this very closely but believe me, it wasn’t great.
The course didn’t feel very well established – I haven’t been able to discover when it was built but from the way it looks I would be surprised if it was more than twenty years old. This is not necessarily a bad thing but again for me it just feeds into the overall feeling of a lack of character.
My last comment would be that there seems to be a lack of maintenance. As previously noted the greens were in fairly poor condition and the tee boxes were likewise. For a privately owned course this was surprising and disappointing. I have played municipal courses in better condition.
My hypothesis is that the course has not done as well – in a business sense – as the owners had hoped when building it. I played on a Sunday afternoon and only spotted two other golfing parties. If that is typical then it will not be doing very good business. This could then have resulted in a lack of funds to invest back into the course. A bit of vicious circle however…This is typified by the sight of an unmaintained bunker allowed to return to grass and the feature that crosses the fairway in front of the 8th green:
Having said all of this though, my 9 holes only cost me a tenner so it is pretty good value for money. The onsite facilities are also very good – the driving range is spacious with plenty of bays and American Golf is American Golf. You’ll get cheaper on eBay but it is nice to see and hold the merchandise you are thinking of. I haven’t used it but I believe there is a short game practice area also on site.
Again, this is another course I would put in the “worth a round if you’re in the area but not a reason to travel there especially for” category. I would qualify that however with the observation that it would make a good combination with a bucket of balls as a practice session for a more serious course. I still have a package of four lessons to use with my coach so I anticipate he will probably take me out at some point for on course coaching.