One of the most interesting aspects of my round was that I found the fairways here the most lust of any links I have played in recent memory.
Feeling a tad nervous on the first, I was more than happy to pipe a drive down the fairway and past the hungry bunker down the left side. With a tricky approach into a raised, undulating green, I took my four and ran!
I then moved onto the dogleg second, which asked for a 3-wood and a mid-iron approach to a green nestled amongst the dunes, shortly before tackling the relatively simple par-5 third and 175-yard par-3 fourth.
After a little rest bite at the par-5 fifth, I was required to be back on my guard at the second of the par 3s at the sixth. Playing 157 yards to a raised green slanting from back to front, with a wee burn running up the left hand side of the green, there probably isn’t a more exciting hole on the course. Terrific short hole.
The par-4 seventh and eight holes offer reasonable birdie chances and you’ll likely need to convert them before heading into the ninth and its index 2 rating. A blind tee shot is negotiated to a rolling fairway and a second shot to a false fronted and semi-blind green. Tricky.
After my second bacon roll of the morning at the turn, another dogleg lurks at the 10th requiring a driver and long iron to a narrow entrance but with a back stop on offer two well thought out shots should result in a par.
The par-3 11th is everything a classic course should have – a par-3 under 150yards! At 120 yards this fitted my bill with a wedge to a shallow green that had a run off long in the Donald Ross mould. Find the bunker at the bottom of the run off and you can forget about making par.
The 12th continues to the Firth of Clyde with the back drop of the Island of Arran and an ample time for my solitary ‘wee birdie’ of the round at the shortest of the par fours.
From there on in, 13th has a fantastic double-tier green with a good four-foot step in it that allows for a reasonable birdie chance – that is if you have avoided both the railway track from the tee and make the right level of the green on your approach.
The railway track also hugs the right hand side of a roller coaster of a fairway at the 16th, played into a narrow, two-tier green. A good drive still requires a hybrid into the dancefloor.
And to close, you have to negotiate a very tricky par-5 18th, particularly when it comes to the second shot lay-up, which must negotiate cross bunkers aplenty. The approach isn’t that much easier, either, with another one of those wee burns located to the front left.
Whilst a driver friendly course in the mould of Phillips’ other UK creations, the defining feature of Dundonald Links is its greens.
Generous in size and in some cases three clubs deep that requires you to both club well and focus on staying on the right side of the pin. Definitely worth taking a caddie if you can.
There are a variety of par-3s at Dundonald that would befit any of its neighbouring trophy courses and the par 5s require plenty of thought on the lay up shots which I was helped admirably on the day by my surprising fresh laddie of a caddie.
Having ‘Hammy’ on the bag that seemed like a joke for every lost ball added to what was an overall enriching golfing experience on this hallowed stretch of Ayrshire links.
Philips has used his vivid imagination and the light, sandy soil to build a traditional 7,100-yard masterpiece that lingers in the memory long after a visit is over.
Love Links Golf? Visit Dundonald Links
Source: Golf Magic