Golf came late to the West of Scotland. In the mid 19th century, Old Tom Morris was instrumental in establishing some of the first tracks and found there was plenty links terrain ideally suited for the game. Now, Ayrshire has some of the best links golf courses in Scotland with no less than three Open Championship venues and a host of other superior seaside options.
BIRTHPLACE OF THE OPEN
Rowallan Castle•The Open•Prestwick Golf Club
It’s the 17th of October, 1860 and Old Tom Morris has invited his contemporaries, golf professionals from the east of the country, to take take part in an ‘Open’ tournament event. Only eight show and play three rounds in the course of one day on Prestwick’s 12-hole course! It’s a start!
Today Southwest Scotland carries on the tradition and boasts no less than three Open Championship venues along with a host of superb supporting courses to say nothing of the castles and cultural encounters that we have assembled for your enjoyment and enlightenment.
THE TOWN OF TROON
Royal Troon•Old Prestwick •Western Gailes
If you fly into Prestwick Airport or indeed take the train from Glasgow, a most striking impression is the abundance of golf courses laced like velvet along the coast like one long, continuous course. Royal Troon, Old Prestwick, Dundonald, Western & Glasgow Gailes are just a few of the links in this redoubtable chain and they are all available to us within minutes of our stately Ayrshire abode.
CULZEAN CASTLE & TURNBERRY
Ailsa Course•King Robert the Bruce•Dumfries House
Robert the Bruce, the hero king who led Scotland to victory during the First War of Scottish Independence hailed from here and the fragmentary ruins of his family castle remain next to Turnberry Lighthouse. Nearby is Culzean Castle with its luxury apartment gifted to President Eisenhower in recognition of his role in the Second World War - in which we can stay.
Nearby, 18th-century Dumfries House, saved at the 11th hour by HRH Prince Charles is set in a 2,000 acre estate and offering an unrivalled collection of Chippendale furniture and art. We are invited for an exclusive, welcome reception & tour followed by a wonderful dinner in the Great Stewards Dining Room. A truly exceptional experience!
Alloway•Brig o’ Doon•
You don’t come to Southwest Scotland and not bump into Robert Burns, our national bard. Although he might have existed 2 centuries ago, his sentiments go on forever and there is no better place to meet him than in Alloway, the town of his birth.
GLASGOW’S MILES BETTER
The City of Glasgow, over the past 20 years has enjoyed a massive cultural renaissance. Glasgow’s atmosphere can be as chic as Milan or Paris. Sitting outside the many coffee bars or browsing through art galleries scattered throughout the town, the city’s reputation for friendliness is only surpassed by its incisive sense of humour.
ISLE OF DRAMS
The Machrie•Whisky Distilleries •
The island of Islay, Isle of Drams! Just south of Tarbert on the A83 is the ferry terminal of Kennacraig which serves the Inner Hebridean islands of Islay, pronounced 'Isla', and Jura. It is a two hour crossing to Port Ellen on Islay, some 25 miles by 20 miles (40km by 32km) and the most southern of the Inner Hebrides. In medieval times this was the power base for the Lords of the Isles who ruled Scotland's western seaboard and conducted a fairly independent existence from the rest of Scotland. For today's visitors the southern shores of the island around Port Ellen could offer all they might need with three world famous whisky distillers and a unique 18 hole golf course. It is possible to fly to Islay from Campbeltown on Kintyre or from Glasgow Airport with the airport being minutes away from the Machrie Hotel and Golf Course.
Islay Whiskies are in the premier division of Scotland's malt industries. The strong, peaty, smoky flavour of Islay whisky comes about with the peat burning process and the sea air in which they are stored giving them a tinge of iodine. Bowmore, Lagavulin, Laphroig and Bunnahabhainn are produced here, and each distillery offers tours and samples of their produce. There are a total of eight distilleries on the island.
Near Port Ellen is the island's most important artifact, the Kildalton Cross; made more than 1,200 years ago, it is inscribed with early Christian symbols and is unlike the cross found in Iona's cathedral. Bowmore, further north on the A846, was the capital of the island. It is another distillery town with its whisky production established in 1779. Overlooking Loch Indaal is a 200 year-old round church, which was designed to do away with corners in which evil spirits could hide. Around the bay is Port Charlotte with is Museum of Islay Life set in a converted church. There are examples of craft working tools, a maritime section and information of the standing stones and burial cairns of the area.
Islay is popular with bird-watchers, especially around the sandy bay at Craigens. Fishing for trout and salmon is excellent in the many rivers and lochs and there is easy accessibility to sea angling. Islay's importance as a medieval centre was focused around Finlaggan Castle, a seat of the MacDonalds and now a mossy ruin just off the road before Port Askaig.