Dundonald Links in Scotland prepares for new dawn

  • Dundonald
    Dundonald Links

    Kyle Phillips is progressing with course changes at Dundonald Links

  • Dundonald
    Dundonald Links

    The project is part of a £25 million investment by new owner Darwin Escapes

  • Dundonald
    Dundonald Links

    Dundonald Links is expected to reopen in May 2021, with new lodges and clubhouse opening later in the year

Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

Construction work is in progress on new practice facilities and course changes at Dundonald Links in Irvine, Scotland, as part of a £25 million investment by new owner Darwin Escapes that also includes the construction of a new clubhouse with rooms, plus eighteen lodges.

Golf has been played on the land since 1911, on a course originally designed by 1883 Open champion Willie Fernie that lies across the rail tracks from Western Gailes. The land was commandeered by the military in preparation for World War II, then lay untouched until Kyle Phillips designed the new course, which opened in 2005.

“When I first arrived on site there was evidence of old bunkers – such as the bunker behind the now eleventh green and ninth fairway – that were incorporated into the new course,” said Phillips. “My objectives were to integrate the natural landforms that had not been disturbed during the military use of the property in World War II seamlessly into the landforms that were designed into the new Dundonald Links course.”

Phillips made some adjustments to the fifth, fifteenth and sixteenth greens in 2016 and has returned for the current project: “We are doubling the size of the practice tee as well as improving and expanding the short game area. Several of the most frequented tee grounds are also being expanded and returfed. We are also widening and reorienting a few of the walk paths and making a few adjustments to some of the bunkers. Adjacent to the new lodges, we are adding three new practice greens.”

Phillips’ long-standing lead shaper David Smith is on site throughout the project.

Dundonald Links hosted the Scottish Open in 2017. Phillips said: “One of my good memories during the event was when one of the commentators expressed his great admiration for the old natural linksland contours within the fairways. After which his fellow commentator gently reminded him that Kyle Phillips designed those lovely wrinkles in 2003.”

“Now it’s time for the next chapter in Dundonald Links’ history and give this fantastic course the amazing facility that it deserves,” said club manager Ian Ferguson, in a new video introducing the redevelopment. “It really is going to be one of the best venues in the UK to come and stay and play golf.”

The course is expected to reopen in May 2021, with the new lodges available from July and the clubhouse and rooms opening by November.

This article first appeared in the January 2021 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.