Golf Course Review of Kilmarnock (Barrasie Links) Golf Club

Kilmarnock Golf Club

Kilmarnock (Barrasie Links) Golf Course

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Quick Summary: A true and stern test of championship links golf

Our 5 Star Rating: 4.1

The Barrasie Links at Kilmarnock Golf Club is an extremely fine and well-presented golf course. It’s also a superb test of every part of your game and has a real consistent feel of quality to it.

Located on the outskirts of Troon on Scotland's West Coast the Club has an extensive history and dates back to 1887. The course is an Open Championship Final Qualifying venue to boot and has a well-deserved reputation for some of the best maintained greens in Scotland.

The Club has been host to a number of other quality events in recent years and in 2016 the R&A Junior Open Championship will be played here.

The course very much reminded me of nearby Irvine and Gailes Links in style; set slightly inland these courses have wonderful terrain that ebbs and flows effortlessly providing all the challenges and vagaries of pure links golf. The land may not be as dramatic as some of the coastal courses in Ayrshire and you do not have that inspiring connection with the sea yet the masses of heather, gorse and other broom give Barrasie Links an undeniable charm.

As for a test of golf you will struggle to find a sterner yet truer test than the 18 holes here. From the white tees the yardage is 6,852 and par is 72 (SSS 74) but there is also a set of blue tees that are not on the main scorecard which must stretch the links to in excess of the 7,000 yard mark. Big golf is certainly required here but so are finesse, guile and imagination.

The first three holes on the main Barrasie layout (an additional nine usually make up the Hillhouse course but the 27 holes can be played in a few variations) are an impressive start; a fall-away green at the first, a burn to negotiate at the second and a fine approach to the excellently sited 3rd green the highlights.

A long walk is required to play holes four through to 12 and on this separate parcel of rippling linksland you will play two short holes, a good selection of two-shotters and the fantastic s-shaped par-five eighth. The par fours that impressed me the most out here were the dog-legging seventh and ninth with the long 12th ‘Barrasie’ also worthy of special mention but in truth there isn’t a weak one amongst them. Indeed the real strength of Kilmarnock lies in its consistency.

Out here you can gaze across to the sea and you will spy golfers playing at Western Gailes, on the other side of the railway line, and at the far end of the course you rub shoulders with players at Dundonald Links.

You return to the early part of the course with a bang. The 13th may just be my favourite hole on the entire course and features an elevated drive to a sweeping fairway where a burn down the right must be carried; the longer you drive the more you must carry. The next doesn’t disappoint either, a tough par-three that has a wickedly sloping green, with menacing bunkers fronting this fine short hole.

More good holes follow. The 15th, 17th and 18th are all excellent yet varied two-shotters and along with the superb par-five 16th make up a very strong closing stretch.

Although I didn’t get to play the Hillhouse course on my visit you do get glimpses of it during the round. The sixth looked a very impressive hole as did seven and the green complex at the fourth was sensational. This is nine holes I will definitely make an effort to play on my next visit to Ayrshire because from what I saw these holes look as good if not better than the main course.

Kilmarnock would certainly make for a superb day of golf. Few would be disappointed with a nine-hole knock in the morning on the Hillhouse followed by 18 on the Barrasie Links after lunch.

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