Prestwick St Nicholas Golf Club is in danger of being missed out from high-flying golf itineraries aimed at Ayrshire’s premier courses like Turnberry or Troon. Those golfers who discover it always come off raving – in a very positive way. This is an excellent little links course with glorious views over the Firth of Clyde to Arran and south to Ailsa Craig. So if you have the time or would rather not pay the exorbitant green fees of some of Ayrshire’s more celebrated experiences, give Prestwick St Nicholas a try.
Established in 1851, the course and club are as steeped in history as nearby Prestwick Golf Club. Indeed one of its founder members was Old Tom Morris who was based in Prestwick at the time. The original club actually played its golf on the then 12-hole Prestwick Golf Club. For a short period the club moved to a different site then in 1892 secured the present swathe of links overlooking Irvine Bay. The club’s first professional, John Allan along with Charlie Hunter, Tom Morris’ successor at Prestwick Golf Club, laid out those 18 holes; they are little changed in their basic nature today.
Gorse bushes put on a dazzling yellow display in the early part of the year and throughout the year this is the course’s main defence especially for the opening and closing holes. The terrain throughout is firm and fast with rippling bumps & hollows along with deep bunkers. There is ‘Out of Bounds’ on at least 12 holes forcing you to stop and think on the tee rather than lash out with your driver. Combine this with an ever-present breeze and even the keenest links player will find Prestwick St Nicholas, in spite of its humble length, a considerable test.
The layout is full of novel holes, some a little short but with a fair breeze blowing off the sea, always exhilarating. The 6th, 7th and 8th play around an old quarry and are perhaps the most memorable. The 13th is a very good Par 4 with wind off the sea. The undulating greens are usually in supreme condition and true.
Besides all the humps and bumps and 'running game' elements, there are two other unusual features encountered on the golf course. The “Salt Pan” buildings behind the 1st green were constructed in 1790 and were the latest in a series of 'workings' going back to the 15th century designed to extract salt from the boiling of sea water.
The second unusual feature is the flooded quarry that lies between the 7th and 8th holes. This quarry supplied stone for many of the houses in the area but extraction ceased in 1870. Despite the fact the quarry is only 50 metres from the sea, the water is fresh and is used by the course’s irrigation system. Very handy!
Prestwick St Nicholas Golf Club
Tel: +44 (0)1292 477 608
Location: In Prestwick town, turn into Grangemuir Road towards the beach.
Statistics: 18 holes, 5952 yards, Par 69, SSS 69
Designer: John Allan & Charlie Hunter
Weekdays: £55 per round, £75 per day
Weekends: £60 per round