In 1913, the original course was laid out by Robert Simpson, the professional at Carnoustie, of which the first four holes still survive today. Since 1950 the club has had an association with the MacKinnon family of Drambuie fame. It was Gena MacKinnon who bought Braehead Farm to protect the interests of the club, and leased the land to the club in 1950 so that the club could be extended to 18 holes. Although not a golfer, Mrs MacKinnon enjoyed performing the opening ceremony of the club every year. The driver she used has pride of place in the Gena MacKinnon lounge in the clubhouse.
The first hole is a short straightforward par 4 of 333 yards. The fairway slopes down left to right carrying the drive to the right hand side whilst trees line this side of the fairway ready to catch a sliced tee shot. The second shot is to an elongated green which slopes from back to front. Banked ground to the left of the green gathers the ball towards the green, but beware the sand and grass bunkers further left and avoid at all costs the tricky bunker protecting the front right corner of the green if your ball strays too much to the right.
The second hole is a longer par 4 of 385 yards, driving from height to a fairway sloping from right to left. A small plantation of trees to the right and a steep bank left plus bordering blackthorn hedge demand a straight drive aimed to the right hand side of the fairway. To the left nearer the green, out of bounds markers are placed inside the fencing from the practice green and pro shop along to the greenkeepers hut, and bunkers short right and to the left front corner of the green require a finely judged approach shot which takes into account the contours of the ground surrounding the green.
The third hole, a short par 4 of 281 yards is a tight dogleg to the left. There a heroic drive option over the out of bounds and high trees directly to the green but the safe play is a long iron or fairway wood to the corner then a short pitch onto the green. The green is well guarded with bunkers short right and left and has a steep slope from back to front. Overshoot your approach and you are left with a tricky downward pitch back onto the green from tough clingy rough.
The fourth hole is another longer dogleg par 4 of 376 yards. Although the fairway is wide, beware of playing too tight a line to the left leaving a difficult approach shot over the high birches and pines to the green. A sliced tee shot will catch the prevailing wind and risk going into the plantation on the right. This is a long sheltered green with the slopes gathering the ball from the left onto the green. Land too far to the right and you risk ending up at the bottom of the bank to the right of the green. Best approach is to carry your ball right to the heart of the green.
The fifth hole is another short par 4 of 300 yards. The plateau green sits atop the slope at the course boundary and a well struck drive over the edge of the trees to the right will finish up close to the green. Straighter drives will finish up in the rough at the left as they run off the sloping fairway. This leaves an easy pitch to the green but brings the deep pot bunker front left of the green into play. Just yards from the back of the green lurks the course boundary and out of bounds.
The sixth hole is a cracking short par 4 of only 254 yards into the prevailing wind to a narrowing banked green with out of bounds along the left of the hole, and a bank of gorse to the right. A single tall oak guards the line to the pin and the safe option is to drive short right onto the level section of the fairway then pitch to the green. The green has two mature trees guarding the right front corner of the green and a long bunker along the right hand side. Wayward approach shots to right or left of the green are severely punished risking gorse and heavy rough.
The seventh hole at 171 yards is the first of two adjacent par 3 holes. The hole has a wonderful aspect, the green nestling below the tee among some mature trees, and is again played into the prevailing wind. There are bunkers short left and to the right of the green and a lateral water hazard runs just inside the course boundary to the left of the green with out of bounds beyond. A hole in one here is truly memorable, the lucky golfer being able to watch the ball all the way into the hole from the tee.
The eighth hole is an uphill par 3 of 169 yards to a green with bunkers placed front right and to the left of the green. A large tree guards the left corner of the green and a steep slope beyond it throws the wayward tee shot down towards some heavy rough and trees.
The ninth hole at 420 yards is one of the toughest par 4’s on the course with the drive played into a funnel of mature trees and into the dip in the fairway. Long hitters may just manage to reach the top of the dip in an easterly wind. A band of pine trees and out of bounds lie to the left of the fairway towards the green, and several heavy gorse patches lie to the right, requiring accuracy for the long approach shot to the green from the bottom of the dip. The green though unguarded has moderate to severe contours compounding the difficulty of the hole.
The tenth hole is a long tough par 3 of 232 yards to a smallish green with a large bunker front right. Playing slightly across the prevailing westerly wind, the mature copse to the left shelters the ball until as it nears the green, the full effect of the wind will be displayed. A wide fairway bunker 50 yards short of the green is well positioned to catch any short hitters, while another bunker at the right hand corner gathers any faded drives.
The eleventh hole is a straight par 4 of 316 yards. Accuracy off the tee is the watchword here, with trees along the left of the fairway and two well placed fairway bunkers gathering balls played to the left of centre. The large green, well guarded by bunkers right and left, slopes away from the front making gauging of the distance and pin position difficult.
The twelfth hole is the first of two par 5s measuring 530 yards and played to a narrow elevated green, is a definite three shot hole for all but the longest of hitters. Trees to the right and a large fairway bunker to the left await wayward drives, whilst the tree-lined sloping fairway puts pressure on second shots which also have to avoid a small mid fairway bunker 100 yards short of the green. The pitch to the wide narrow and elevated green has to be precisely judged to avoid falling short or going through the green onto the far bank. A tough par 5.
The thirteenth hole runs westward and is a par 5 of 501 yards. A great driving hole from an elevated tee with a superb view across the course to the west, this hole needs a teeshot aimed to the left of centre to maximise the run down and across the fairway. Beware the line of trees to the left and the large fairway bunker to the right awaiting the sliced drive. Further forward to the right is a large bank of gorse which is in range of long hitters from the tee. The hole doglegs slightly to the right beyond the gorse and a burn runs diagonally across the fairway at this point making the planning and execution of second shots crucial. The green nestles in front of a stand of trees and is guarded by a bunker short left and to the right.
The fourteenth is a short par 4 of 274 yards and is drivable from the medal tee for long hitters. A gully across the fairway gathers most shorter tee shots and the contours of the land surrounding the green make accurate pitches a must. A steep bank to the left will bring balls back on to the green, but go just slightly right of target and your ball will end up in a deep bunker at the right hand edge of the green.
The fifteenth hole is another short par 4 of 279 yards almost straight up hill. Heavy rough, trees and gorse border the left side of the fairway the full length of the hole and any drives left of centre risk being deflected into the fringes of this rough. A hole to consider a fairway wood or long iron from the tee to leave a full shot to the green.
The sixteenth hole at 445 yards is the longest par 4 with the tee shot landing area just out of sight over a grassy knoll. A large bank of gorse awaits any wayward drives to the right, and shots played to centre or left of centre will run down the sloping fairway to a line of trees bordering the left of the fairway. An accurate and straight drive is essential. The landing area in front of the green is a hogsback and the long second shot needs to be judged perfectly to avoid missing the green to left or right. Go too far right and you will find a burn running along the edge of the fairway. No bunkers are required on this hole to compound the difficultly!
The seventeenth hole is a short par 3 of 172 yards and is rightly the most memorable hole on the course for many visitors with a view down and across the Union Canal and over the town to Linlithgow Palace. Played down a steep slope to a green which is cut into the bank, the decision is to either go for a full shot onto the green or play short and right and let the ball run down to the green. Missing the green to either side leaves a tricky pitch up onto the green whilst the fringes of the canal beckon any overshoots.
The eighteenth hole is another great longish par 4 of 413 yards which runs east along the Union Canal and is recognised as one of the best finishing holes in the County. The drive is over a deep ravine to a fairway which slopes from right to left tending to take your ball towards the line of rough and trees which border the canal on the left. Get too close to the trees on the right and the second shot to the green is blocked. The tricky green is cut into a gentle slope below the clubhouse and judging the landing area for the approach shot is critical. A wide bunker placed short right of the green guards any approach via the 1st fairway.
Bunker Proposal Information
|Hole||White Yards||Yellow Yards||Par||Stroke Index|
|3. Hermit’s Cave||281||272||4||9|
|4. Doon the Lum||376||368||4||4|
|6. Glaur Aboot||254||227||4||12|
|7. Braehead Drop||171||154||3||14|
|8. Whinny Knowe||169||154||3||8|
|9. Deil’s Dip||420||368||4||1|
|10. The Spinney||232||217||3||7|
|11. Donkey Lea||316||308||4||15|
|12. The Avenue||530||492||5||3|
|13. Lang Whang||501||479||5||10|
|15. Rest and Be Thankful||279||250||4||11|
|16. Margaret’s Bower||445||405||4||2|
|17. Wishing Well||172||171||3||16|
|18. Union Canal||413||401||4||5|
|Hole||Ladies Yards||Par||Stroke Index|