Posts Tagged ‘Curtis Cup’

Ireland select Mehaffey, Wilson and Grant for Espirito Santo Trophy bid at Carton House

August 1, 2018

Olivia Mehaffey in action with ASU

Olivia Mehaffey will lead Ireland’s bid for World Championship success at Carton House (Aug 29-Sept 1).
The Banbridge golfer, ranked 21 in the world, has been named in Ireland’s three-person team alongside Paula Grant (Lisburn) and Annabel Wilson (Lurgan).
Republic of Korea are defending champions following their victory in Mexico two years ago but Ireland will present a strong home challenge having finished third in 2016 to take the bronze medal for the first time.
“I think in the past this small team format has suited Ireland so there’s no reason why we can’t do well this time,” said Olivia who is readying to fly out to Tennessee to compete in the US Women’s Amateur Championship starting on August 6.
“We all know Carton House (Co Kildare) pretty well from playing and practicing down there but to be honest a lot of the other teams have already made trips over to see the venue and the facilities.

“From a personal point of view, it’s nearly more important to have fans out there encouraging and supporting you so I hope we get some good crowds at the event.”

It will be the first time Ireland has played host to the Championships, with the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golf Union combining to host the event, welcoming competitors from 72 participating nations.
Annabel and Olivia played in the last staging in 2016 alongside Leona Maguire but this will be a debut appearance in the event for Paula Grant.
The golf gets underway on 29 August with the Women’s World Championship for the Espirito Santo Trophy. The men’s championship for the Eisenhower Trophy begins a week later on 5 September.
It’s been another hectic summer of golf for Olivia who will return to college in America following the US Amateur. The 20-year-old has competed in the Curtis Cup, Palmer Cup, Euro Team Championships and the most recently the Euro Amateur Championships.
“The final result in the Curtis Cup was disappointing (GB&I lost 17-3 against the USA) but I was involved in some really good matches and I took some confidence from that,” added Olivia.
“We performed well at the Team Championship in Austria and then I played pretty well last week at the Euro Amateur. It was probably one of my best ball-striking tournaments of the year but I just didn’t putt great. Overall, I feel like I am moving in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, Irish Women’s Close Champion Sara Byrne and Lauren Walsh, who made her senior international debut this year will travel alongside Wilson to the World Junior Golf Championships in Ottawa.
The event, which is by invite only, will pit 20 International Teams against one another at Camleot Golf & Country Club from September 9th to 14th.
Tickets for the World Amateur Team Championships are free of charge but those wishing to attend are asked to register for them in advance at http://www.watc2018.ie.

Advertisements

Olivia Mehaffey handed late invite into US Women’s Open at Shoal Creek

May 29, 2018

 

Olivia Mehaffey in action with ASU

 

Olivia Mehaffey will get her first taste of life inside the ropes at a US Women’s Open after receiving a late call-up to play in this week’s event at Shoal Creek, Alabama (May 31-June 3).
“It is a great learning opportunity to get to do this as an amateur,” said the 20-year-old, who is currently ranked 20th in the world.
“I’m excited to get out there and be in that environment.”
The Banbridge born golfer, who has just completed the second year of her college career at Arizona State, tried to play her way into the tournament via qualifying on May 14th but agonisingly came up one shot short.
However, she gratefully accepted the invite she received on Sunday evening and hopped on an early flight Monday morning to Alabama.
The last Irish golfer to compete in the US Women’s Open was Jordanstown born Stephanie Meadow who remarkably finished in third place, three shots behind the winner Michelle Wie, on her professional debut in 2014.
This will not be Olivia’s first experience of major golf, she competed in last year’s Ricoh British Open at Kingsbarns carding rounds of 72/75 to miss the cut.
“I’m excited, anytime you get the opportunity to tee it up with the professionals and play majors is amazing,” she added.

“I love the big events, the crowds and being surrounded by great players.”

It’s the start of a very busy summer of golf for Olivia who will go from the US Open to the Curtis Cup in New York (8-11 June) followed by the Palmer Cup at Evian Resort GC (July 6-8).
Olivia will be joined in the Curtis Cup team by Lisburn’s Paula Grant as GB&I attempt to retain the title they won at Dun Laoghaire GC two years ago.

Paula Grant leads Irish contingent in Scotland with Curtis Cup selection looming

April 20, 2018

Paula Grant (Lisburn)
Picture by Pat Cashman

Leona Maguire won’t be featuring for GB&I in the Curtis Cup this year but Lisburn’s Paula Grant is hoping to nail down a place in the team at this week’s Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Championship in Troon (April 20-22).
The GB&I side to face the USA at Quaker Rider GC (June 8-10) will be named on April 26 so this is the last chance for Paula to impress the selectors and earn her spot on the team alongside Olivia Mehaffey (RCDL) who will get the nod courtesy of her world ranking.
A qualified optometrist, Paula is somehow managing to juggle her work commitments with competing at elite level. Already this year the 24-year-old has played in the South American Amateur Championship in Argentina finishing runner-up in a star-studded field.
That was followed by a trip to Portugal for the International Championship and in the worst of the weather, she finished 13th. The weather wasn’t much better during the Spanish Open when she tied seventh in qualifying before losing out in the match play stages to the eventual winner.
“I suppose the fact that the girl who beat me went on to win the title was something but it would have been nice to have done better,” said the reigning Irish Strokeplay champion.
Last month, Paula was on her travels again as she competed for Europe against Asia Pacific in the Patsy Hankins Trophy at Doha Golf Club. Europe were comprehensively beaten but the Curtis Cup selectors watched on as Paula won her singles match. However, Paula isn’t putting much store by that performance.

She continued; “There are a lot of good players out there, all with strong claims for selection. It really would be fantastic if I did get into the team but I can’t afford to just concentrate on that goal. I must keep playing as well as I can and let my form do the trick.”

The Helen Holm Trophy will consist of 54 holes of stroke play contested over three days with 18 holes played on each day. The top 66 players and ties returning the lowest scores after two rounds will qualify for the final round.
Twelve Irish players have travelled to Royal Troon to compete at the event – Ciara Casey (Hermitage/MU), Clodagh Walsh (Castlewarden/MU), Emma Forbes (Royal Portrush), Kate Dwyer (Rossmore), Lauren Walsh (Castlewarden), Lucy Simpson (Masserene), Maura Diamond (Royal Portrush), Meadhbh Doyle (Portarlington/MU), Paula Grant (Lisburn), Sara Byrne (Douglas), Shannon Burke (Ballinrobe), Valerie Clancy (Killarney).

Info courtesy of Tony McGee

Driven Mehaffey targets Curtis Cup and NCAA Championship double in 2018

December 19, 2017

Olivia Mehaffey in action with ASU

Christmas, a time to relax and unwind unless, that is, you’re Olivia Mehaffey (RCDL).
The 20-year-old Irish international hasn’t stopped since flying back home from the US where she is in the second year of a golf scholarship at Arizona State University.
Olivia is in full prep mode, planning for a 2018 that she hopes will include a successful defence of the Curtis Cup with GB&I and the NCAA Championship title with her college teammates.
The Banbridge golfer was recently named on the 14-player provisional GB&I squad along with three other Irish internationals, Paula Grant (Lisburn), Annabel Wilson (Lurgan) and the leading amateur player in the world, Leona Maguire (Slieve Russell).
“I think we will have a really strong team this year,” said Olivia who is currently ranked 13th in the world.
The 40th Curtis Cup match will be played from 8-10 June next year at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in New York. GB&I will be attempting to retain the title after an 11½-8½ win over the US at Dun Laoghaire GC, Co Wicklow in 2016.
In preparation, six potential GB&I team members, including Olivia, Leona and Annabel, met up at the venue last month for a bit of reconnaissance.
“It was really nice to get out there and play the course. It means that whoever gets picked on the team has that bit of knowledge which will certainly help,” added Olivia who won 3.5 points on her Curtis Cup debut at Dun Laoghaire.
“It was a typical parkland with greens that were very quick and had plenty of slope.”
The eight-player team will be announced on April 26 next year. The two leading players on the world rankings will automatically make the team, with six players selected by the R&A’s women’s selection committee.

Given her impressive individual matchplay record – she won three out of three to help Arizona win the NCAA title last May – it would be something of a shock not to see Olivia make the team but she’s not taking anything for granted which is why she was at Carton House last week working with coach Donal Scott.
“The game is good. I’m very happy with how I played this semester, I’m just making a few changes,” added the sociology student.
“I’m working on some new stuff now to get ready for next year.”
Arizona will be defending their title without the experienced Monica Vaughan, who graduated in the summer and Linnea Strom who will turn professional early next year. It’s likely to mean that, as the top-ranked player on the team, more responsibility will fall on Olivia’s shoulders.
She added; “I see myself as a bit of a leader and I think it is a good opportunity to embrace that role.
“I love playing first in match play. It’s about getting out there and getting some early points on the board. It’s something that I thrive on a bit.
“Losing Monica and Linnea is a big hit because they are both top 10 in the world. We will have to step up as a group. We still have a really great team. Four of the squad remain from last year. It’s exciting, we’ll see what happens.”

Maturing Mehaffey learning the value of rest and recovery

January 8, 2017
Olivia Mehaffey in action with ASU

Olivia Mehaffey in action with ASU

It was supposed to be the off-season but Olivia Mehaffey spent much of her Christmas break on the practice ground at Royal County Down working on her game.
The 18-year-old amateur star from Banbridge, currently ranked number three in the world, has been making some swing changes under the watchful eye of RCD professional, Kevin Whitson.
“I’ve been working on compression, starting the ball out a bit lower with a stronger flight,” said Olivia who was back in Northern Ireland after completing her first semester at Arizona State University.
“I’ve tended to hit it a bit high with too much spin. The college coaches have been very supportive. I am in control of my own game and it was my decision to make this change. It’s more powerful and more efficient. I’m hitting it lovely right now so I’m very happy with how the changes have bedded in.”
The reigning Irish Strokeplay champion, who played a key role in last year’s GB&I Curtis Cup success, is still adapting to life in America but is looking forward to Spring and the main body of the competitive season.
“It was nice to get settled in and everything. I really like it over there but there are a lot of things that are different. So the first semester has all been about getting used to those things,” added Olivia who admitted that juggling college studies and golf has been tricky.

“The practice, that is no problem, I would have been doing that anyway even if I was at home. School has been quite demanding. I didn’t expect that to be so difficult but you have to knuckle down and focus. My days are regularly 6am to 10/11pm. It’s pretty hard work.”

Arizona compete in the Pac-12 conference and will be facing some of the best college golf teams in the US, including the likes of Stanford and UCLA. It’s top class competition but with the season not finishing until late May, it will likely curtail her outings in domestic events.
“It’s impossible to fit everything in. In the past I neglected rest a lot, but I understand now just how important rest is,” added Olivia.
“At the moment I’ve four or five events pencilled in, including the European Individual Championship, the British Amateur and the British Open. I also hope to be selected for the Vagliano Trophy and I’m also going to try and qualify for the US Open.
“I really don’t want to overdo it. If I play the full college season, then come home and play and then turn around and head back to college in September for more golf I’ll not have had any meaningful rest.
“That’s a lot of golf and there’s no real off-season as such so I have to be cautious. One of the reasons I was ill last year [a bout of glandular fever laid her low in February/March/April] was because I did too much. I have learnt a lot about rest and recovery.”

Leona Maguire puts professional career on hold to complete University degree

November 23, 2016
Leona Maguire was presented with the 2016 Mark H McCormack Medal by current world number one and three-time winnner of the medal Lydia Ko ahead of the women's Olympic Golf event at Rio 2016

Leona Maguire was presented with the 2016 Mark H McCormack Medal by current world number one and three-time winnner of the medal Lydia Ko ahead of the women’s Olympic Golf event at Rio 2016

Leona Maguire’s decision to turn her back on professional golf – at least in the short term – has been broadly welcomed with Paul McGinley and Catriona Matthew amongst the vocal supporters on social media.
The current world number one ranked amateur had cruised through LPGA Qualifying School Stage II in October but rather than go on to Qualifying Stage III in Florida next week, Leona has decided to remain an amateur and complete her studies at Duke University.

In a statement, the 21-year-old from Co Cavan said; “Upon considerable deliberation, I have decided to withdraw from stage III of LPGA Q-school and not pursue LPGA membership for 2017.
“This is not a decision that I have taken lightly but one that I feel is best for me in the pursuit of my long-term aspirations.
“I am thankful for the continuous support of my parents, friends, teammates, Coach Shane O Grady, ILGU and everyone at Duke and for their guidance in helping me to reach my decision.”

In June, Leona played a key role in GB&I’s Curtis Cup victory against the USA at Dun Laoghaire GC and more recently, she helped Ireland capture an historic bronze medal at the World Amateur Team Championships alongside Olivia Mehaffey and Annabel Wilson.
She added;“My dream is and always has been to compete alongside the world’s best on the LPGA and this remains resolutely unchanged.

“It is my intention to turn professional after graduation in May 2018 and I look forward to enjoying many more unforgettable experiences representing Duke, Ireland and myself as an amateur golfer until then.”

The summer also saw Leona represent Ireland at the Olympics where she finished tied for 21st and claim the Smyth Salver Trophy after finishing the RICOH Women’s British Open as the top ranked amateur.
Leona is studying Psychology, Business and Accounting at Duke.

Leona Maguire receives Mark H McCormack Medal boost ahead of Rio medal bid

August 17, 2016
Leona Maguire was presented with the 2016 Mark H McCormack Medal by current world number one and three-time winnner of the medal Lydia Ko ahead of the women's Olympic Golf event at Rio 2016 today.

Leona Maguire was presented with the 2016 Mark H McCormack Medal by current world number one and three-time winnner of the medal Lydia Ko ahead of the women’s Olympic Golf event at Rio 2016 today.

Leona Maguire has won the Mark H McCormack Medal for the second consecutive year as the leading women’s player in the 2016 World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Maguire will compete for Ireland in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games this week alongside Stephanie Meadow and speaking from Brazil she said she was delighted to win the prestigious medal once again.
“It is a huge honour for me to win the Mark H McCormack medal again this year,” said Maguire.
“I am incredibly grateful to my family, my coach Shane O’Grady, the Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Confederation of Golf in Ireland and everyone at Duke University. Without their support and help this would not be possible.

“This year has been great for me so far and winning the McCormack Medal makes it even more special. I am so excited to compete and represent my country in the Olympics this week and earning the medal gives me extra confidence, given how strong amateur golf is right now, as I prepare for the event.”

The Cavan born golfer played a significant role in Great Britain & Ireland’s Curtis Cup win against the USA in June, contributing four points to the 11½-8½ victory.
Last month, she won the Smyth Salver after finishing as the leading amateur at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Woburn, in a tie for 25th place, and also played in the U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle.
Following the Olympic Games, in the autumn, Maguire will take part in Qualifying School for the LPGA Tour. As long as she remains an amateur she will receive an exemption into the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the U.S. Women’s Open in 2017.
Right now, her focus is on making a medal bid for Ireland.
“We’ve been to a bunch of events – hockey and swimming and saw Michael Phelps. So it’s just been really fun.” she said.

“It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and sort of just try to soak up the entire like Olympic atmosphere. I am really excited.  As a kid, I’ve been watching the Olympics every four years, so to actually be a part of it is incredible. It’s nice getting to play in the first group on Wednesday, so it will be great to get out there and be an Olympian.”

The R&A and United States Golf Association (USGA) award recognises Maguire’s outstanding performances this year and is named after Mark H McCormack, who founded sports marketing company IMG and was a great supporter of amateur golf.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, Executive Director – Championships at The R&A, said, “For Leona to win the Mark H McCormack Medal for a second year running is an outstanding achievement and I would like to congratulate her on another tremendous season. To consistently deliver excellent results over two years requires real dedication and commitment. She is a hugely talented golfer who is a worthy winner of the award.”

McVeigh making match-play return for RCD Ladies in Senior Cup

May 9, 2015
Danielle McVeigh celebrates success in the Irish Women's Close Championship in 2011

Danielle McVeigh celebrates success in the Irish Women’s Close Championship back in 2011

Former professional, Danielle McVeigh, will make a return to inter-club action on Sunday when she plays for Royal County Down Ladies in the Ulster Senior Cup qualifiers at Clandeboye GC.
Danielle, who represented GB&I in the 2010 Curtis Cup, turned professional in 2011 but two years of battling without a breakthrough eventually took its toll and she called it a day at the end of 2013.
The 26-year-old put her clubs away, found work with Dublin based software firm Qualtrics and discovered that there was more to life than golf.
Now, with her enthusiasm renewed and her amateur status reinstated – she has been given a +2 handicap – Danielle is back playing and will be getting her first taste of match-play golf in almost six years when she lines out for RCD at Clandeboye on Sunday.
“RCD Ladies did O.K during the period I was playing for them,” said Danielle.
“We won Ulster a few times but never managed to go on and win an All-Ireland.
“We have a very strong team this year. I’m not seeded number one, which will be a first for me. It’s interesting for me but I can’t argue, Olivia Mehaffey is playing so well at the minute and it means I can fly in there under the radar.”
Olivia’s recent hat trick of success in Ireland, Scotland and Wales mirrors victories achieved by Danielle in her last year as an amateur in 2011.
“I won the Helen Holm and the Welsh Strokeplay back-to-back just like Olivia,” added Danielle.
“When she won in Wales I sent her a message – ‘There’s some great names on those trophies!’

“I have played with Olivia a good few times. She is doing brilliant and the results speak for themselves. She showed great potential and talent from a young age and now the results are starting to come. It’s reward for the hard work she is putting in.”

Danielle’s first serious competitive event of the season was a couple of weeks ago when she played in the 36-hole scratch-cup at Lahinch GC. She finished in mid-table, but was reasonably content with her performance.
“I really like it down there. It’s a great course and I also played Ballybunion the next day,” she added.
“I’m also planning to play in the Irish Stroke Play in a couple of weeks. To be honest, I’m only playing in places where I like to play golf.
“I still want to play well and it can get a bit frustrating when I do hit a bad one knowing how well I might have hit it in the past but it’s grand then when I come off the course – I can go to work. I’m not playing for ranking points or anything. I’m just out to enjoy myself this year.”
Royal Portrush are the reigning Ulster champions but face a difficult start against Royal Belfast in the quarter-finals. Lurgan, who face Bangor in Sunday’s preliminary round will be relying on youth to overcome their competitors.
The quarter-finals on Sunday will be followed by the semi-finals/final on Monday.

Irish Senior Cup – Ulster section
Sunday 10 May
8am – Bangor v Lurgan
Quarter-finals
8.50am Royal Portrush v Royal Belfast
9.40am Shandon Park v Belvoir Park
10.30am Clandeboye v Malone
1pm Bangor/Lurgan v RCD Ladies
Monday 11 May
Semi-finals/Final

Meadow on turning professional – ‘It’s the right time’

June 16, 2014
stephanie meadow
As professional debuts go, Stephanie Meadow’s decision to make her bow at Pinehurst in the US Women’s Open will be hard to top.
The 22-year-old, originally from Jordanstown, takes her first steps this week as a fully paid up member of the pro ranks at the iconic venue in North Carolina.
After a stellar amateur career, one that included two Curtis Cup appearances, Meadow feels the ‘time is right’.
“I have completed my degree at the University of Alabama and it’s the perfect moment to come here and make this my first event,” said Meadow who moved with her entire family to the United States as a 14-year-old.
“This is the right time and I am definitely ready. I have waited a long time for this moment.”
When the Meadow family made the decision to emigrate to America some eight years ago it was probably considered something of a risky move but, rather like Graeme McDowell, Stephanie flourished in the Collegiate system, winning numerous awards.
A member of Royal Portrush Ladies, Stephanie has already played in a US Open as an amateur, at the 2012 staging at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin and is in something of a hurry to get going as a professional.
“I am just excited to be a professional, I have dreamed about it for so long,” she added.
“To finally get it organised, to wake up and be able to say, ‘I am a professional’, was great.
“As regards the US Open, at the end of the day, it is still golf course, a ball and a hole.  You could say there is more pressure now that I am a professional but I have worked for this moment for a long time.
“I am just going to enjoy it. My dreams are more than simply playing on the LPGA Tour. They are to win Majors and stuff, but over the next few weeks and months I want to try and learn as much as I can and get better every week.”

Meadow had indicated that the Curtis Cup [at the start of June] would be her last event as an amateur but the official announcement was delayed by on-going administrative efforts to get her visa extended.
The issue has had a knock-on effect on her ability to make concrete plans involving signing contracts etc, but she is hopeful the matter will be wrapped up in a couple of weeks.
As it is, the planning process for the weeks after the US Open continues with Stephanie looking to sort out a schedule of events.
“It is very flexible at the minute,” she added.
“I will try and Monday qualify as often as I can for LPGA events and I also have an exemption into Symetra Tour event in August.
“I have written to a number of events in the hope of getting an invite.  A lot of them haven’t made any decisions yet so it is really a case of waiting to see.
“I don’t think I will be playing much in Europe. I will focus on America and go to Q-School in the States.
“That’s the plan at the moment, but it could change. I have entered the final qualifying for the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale next month, but I will make a decision on that nearer the time.”

Links golf Scottish style is closer than you think

October 21, 2013
Driving off the 13th tee at Dundonald Links

Driving off the 13th tee at Dundonald Links

IF you’re looking for a taste of links golf ‘Scottish style’ you shouldn’t automatically head for St Andrews.
Scotland has much, much more to offer and certainly, from a Northern Ireland perspective, you don’t have to travel far to savour the experience.
The West coast of Scotland often gets overlooked but South and North Ayrshire has a wonderful array of courses all within a short driving distance from the port of Troon.
Pack the car in the morning, hop on the P&O ferry at Larne and you can be playing at historic venues like Glasgow Gailes, Barassie or even the 2004 Open venue, Royal Troon.
On a recent visit I tackled Western Gailes and Dundonald Links, two courses separated by the Ayrshire Coast railway line and over 100 years of history. Western Gailes was founded in 1897 and retains an air of tradition while Dundonald Links, designed by Kyle Phillips, only opened for business in 2003.
Western Gailes is a classic old style links very much in the mould of Kirkistown Castle, or Castlerock. The course is squeezed into the land between the sea and the railway line but unlike many links courses where the sea is often blocked from view, at Western Gailes it is a constant presence, particularly on the stretch of holes from the fifth to the 13th.
Played off the tips the course measures just over 7000 yards, long enough to make it a challenge for some of the world’s best. Western Gailes has played host to the Curtis Cup and the Home Internationals. It is also a regular venue for Open Championship qualifying.

Western Gailes

Western Gailes

Thankfully, on our visit we played off the ‘visitors’ tees, which proved challenging enough particularly when facing into what my caddy helpfully referred to as a ‘light breeze’.
Coping with the wind and rain is, of course, all part of any links golf experience and Western Gailes, devoid of the huge dunes that frame the likes of Royal Portrush and Royal County Down, is more exposed than most to the elements sweeping in off the Fifth of Clyde.
The opening hole ‘Station’ offers a gentle start before the real challenge commences. The par four second ‘Railway’ plays to a small bowl-shaped green, hidden from view by the rolling mounds and hollows.
The par five sixth, ‘Lappock; plays along the water and requires two good shots to get into position to attack a large green which is tucked away almost at right angles to the fairway.
There is no let up on the back nine. The 13th ‘Barassie’ is the second of the three ‘short’ holes on the course and offers some respite in terms of length, but even it is surrounded by bunkers, gorse and heather.
The closing holes all play alongside the railway line bringing ‘Out of Bounds’ into the equation. The 16th, ‘Camp’ appears innocent standing on the tee but a hidden burn just short of the green makes for a treacherous approach. At the 17th, ‘Ridge’ the fairway narrows at 270 yards off the tee and the second shot is blind over a gorse mound to a narrow green. There is no let up at 18, which dog legs gently left. Golfers must play over one more burn and avoid the final bunkers to find the home green.
Western Gailes is a fantastic challenge and I certainly benefited from having a caddy who knew ‘where not to hit it’. On a course with so many hidden dips and hollows, that local knowledge was invaluable. If you get the chance to play it, and it really is worth a visit, investing in a caddy might also be a wise investment.
Thankfully, when you’ve been battered by the elements and the course, the clubhouse is warm and welcoming. You won’t find any stuffiness at Western Gailes. Instead you’ll enjoy superb hospitality in a relaxed atmosphere which only adds to the entire experience.
During our two-day excursion we stayed at the excellent four-star Menzies Hotel near Irvine, a mere five-minute drive from both courses. It’s a modern ‘golfer friendly’ hotel with comfortable, bedrooms, a contemporary brassiere restaurant, a stylish cocktail bar and a spacious lounge. More importantly, it is ideally located to make it is the perfect base for a golfing break.

Dundonald Links

So refreshed and ready for action we arrived at Dundonald Links for the second round of our visit to Ayrshire. Dundonald Links has been getting rave reviews since opening for business a decade ago and on a bright sunny day (the sun always shines in Scotland) it was a real pleasure to play.
Understandably, this modern links venue is a much different to Western Gailes.
For a start, there’s a fine driving range and practice facilities to get you ready for your round. On the course you won’t find any small bowl greens tucked away out of sight although you might find one or two sneaky pot bunkers. The green complexes are large and many of them are raised above the level of the fairway which makes running a shot in along the ground damn near impossible.

The 12th green Dundonald Links

The 12th green Dundonald Links

Dundonald is owned by the Loch Lomond private club and was acquired to give its members a taste of winter golf.
Since opening for play, this 7100 yard par 72 course has played host to pre-qualifying for the European Tour and the Senior British Open Championship.
The first offers a relatively benign opening tee shot to a wide fairway but the second shot to a narrow, two tiered green better be on target or you could be struggling for a bogey.
The difficulty ramps up at the 530 yard par-five third. The tee shot is protected by a burn, all the way down the right hand side, which then crosses the fairway creating a challenge on your second or lay up shot.  The enormous three-tiered green is protected short and back by bunkers and is a prime candidate for the dreaded ‘three-putt’.
The front nine closes with a really tricky par four. Two steep faced fairway bunkers stare at you from the tee and if you are lucky to clear them, the viciously sloping green is protected by a burn and two more green side bunkers. It’s stroke index two for a reason – if you manage a par take it and run to the 10th.
The back nine gets underway with a another difficult par four which plays towards the ever present backdrop of the Caledonian Paper Mill and is followed by a wicked, short (120 yards) par three that requires a pitch over marsh to a raised green guarded by three bunkers and a nasty pot bunker, 15 yards over the back. There’s no other option here, you simply must hit the green to even stand a chance of walking away with a par.
The round finishes with another testing par five measuring 540 yards. Generous off the tee, this hole gently dog legs to the right and requires more strategy than brawn. The key is getting into position to attack a narrow green guarded by yet another burn, but to do so you will have to avoid the fairway bunkers. Depending on where you place your second shot a four, five, or six might be a satisfactory finishing score.
I found the front nine at Dundonald Links the easier of the two to score on, but the back nine is certainly the more picturesque, with the 16th a wonderful creation. The club prides itself on being ‘visitor’ friendly, with tee times available at the weekend. The clubhouse is low-key but more than adequate while the service and attention to detail shown by the staff was simply first class and added to a really enjoyable experience.
Ayrshire may not have the historical appeal of St Andrews, but on the basis of my visit, it is very difficult to find fault with the golf on offer. This is prime golfing country and there’s enough variety in terms of price to suit almost everyone’s pocket.

*Visitors can now play three of Ayrshire’s finest courses – Dundonald Links, Western Gailes and Glasgow Gailes – in one visit. Go to http://www.gailesgolfexperience.co.uk

http://www.dundonaldlinks.com/

http://www.westerngailes.com/

http://www.menzieshotels.co.uk/