Golf Course Review of Prestwick St. Nicholas Golf Club
Prestwick St. Nicholas Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: A great start, a superb finish and very good in-between
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.1
Prestwick St. Nicholas is one of those links courses that you just cannot fail to fall in love with.
Even before you reach the car park you catch a glimpse of the course and its humpy-bumpy linksland. As it transpires these are the 17th and 18th holes so you must wait a little bit longer to enjoy these, but it is worth the wait and the journey to get there is just as enjoyable.
Holes one to three and 16 to 18 lie on one side of a small road that dissect these from the majority of the course and because these holes are indeed superb, and enjoy the best of the terrain, it’s very easy to say that Prestwick St. Nicholas has a great start and a great finish, and simply leave it at that.
Yet that is not doing the course, the 26th oldest in the world, true justice because holes four through to 15 contain plenty of good stuff and although some of them don’t benefit from the most undulating land they all join up nicely to create a really satisfying, challenging and exciting links.
The opener is a lovely getaway hole and you may set up a birdie opportunity if you can thread your drive between dunes and bunkers but failure to do that could leave you playing catch-up with your scorecard early on in the round. The second is an excellent short hole played across a valley to a perfectly situated two-level green and then the third raises the bar even higher with a sublime green that is pushed up with steep fall-a-ways at the front and sides; it’s only 281 yards but precision is required all the way.
The final three holes are also on this section of the property and have lots of movement in the land. The 16th showcases this best with its cascading, gorse-lined fairway before playing to an exceptional green complex defended with bunkers and drop-offs. This has to be one of the best holes in not just Ayrshire but throughout Scotland. The 17th is a delicate par four with another rippling fairway before the last, a treacherous 227-yard par three with a green that slopes from front to back, returns us to the clubhouse, uncomfortably close in fact for those with a tendency to slice.
The middle part of the course, where dabs of gorse become a real and present danger, also has some tremendous holes. The fifth, sixth and seventh are all particularly strong and although the eighth plays around and over the corner of a water-filled quarry it is a little out of character with the rest of the course but may be the most memorable hole for some.
I didn’t care much for the ninth but the tenth is an excellent par-three with a sensational back-drop. I played in the evening, just as the sun was setting over the Isle of Arran, and the glistening water in the near distance really made this fine one-shotter, played into the teeth of a freshening wind, come alive.
Holes 11, 12 and 13 play in a triangle on a narrow piece of land at the far end of the links. All good holes but none set the pulse racing. The 13th is the first of five par fours that head back towards the clubhouse. I’ve already mentioned 16 and 17 but the 15th is also worthy of special mention. At just 276 yards you may be tempted to go for this angled and raised green but with deep sand-pits protecting it you may be better off leaving yourself a pitch into this fabulously tempting hole.
Prestwick St. Nicholas will probably never be seen by a number of golfers heading to Ayrshire who are just interested in playing the big names and this can therefore rightly be called a hidden gem. Holes two, three, 15, 16 and 18 are of exceptional quality and although there are a few ‘filler’ holes out on the flatter part of the course this is a true links that I whole heartedly suggest you play. Don’t be fooled by the par of 69 and a yardage of just 6,044 as it plays every bit of its length and requires plenty of creative shot-making.
Club Website: www.prestwickstnicholas.com
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