In the middle part of the 19th century, as railroads began to spiderweb their way across the British Isles, the birth of one such line brought with it some of the most enjoyable links golf in the land. The Glasgow & South Western Railway linked Glasgow and Edinburgh with Scotland’s southwest coast, and it wasn’t long before a string of golf courses were built alongside the line. Many of these have stood the test of time and today remain some of the game’s most historic venues.
So punch your ticket and join us for a ride on the G&SW Railway.
The first stop on the Glasgow & South Western Railway is also the last course in Great Britain granted the “Royal” moniker by Her Majesty The Queen. Royal Troon’s history as host of the Open Championship is extensive, having hosted the tournament seven times, with its 8th on the docket for 2016. In something of a paradox, the out-and-back links features both the longest par-5 (the 6th) and the shortest par-3 (the 8th) on the Open rota. The latter being one of the most famous holes in the game – the Postage Stamp.
The birthplace of The Open Championship has an especially close kinship with the Glasgow & South Western Railway – one that is apparent from the moment a player steps onto the first tee. The railway lines the entire right side of the opening hole, striking fear into the hearts of those with any past recollection of a sliced tee ball. With that terrifying initiation out of the way, Prestwick goes on to charm with both its golf and incredible history. Sure, the modern game has left it behind in some ways, but the sight of the massive Cardinal bunker on 3rd hole, or the blind approach from the pencil thin 17th fairway, will certainly serve as a reminder of why Prestwick is so special to so many. Of course, 24 Open Championships may also contribute to that sentiment.
The next stop on the Glasgow & South Western Railway is Western Gailes, a final qualifying venue for the Open Championship when it is held at nearby Royal Troon or Turnberry. The links is brilliantly situated on a narrow strip of land between the railway and the sea. Translation: trouble is always close at hand. In the end, Western Gailes will likely prove to be a delightful surprise, with numerous highlights along the way. Such as the tee ball on the 10th with the sea close at hand, as reported by Tom & Anders Ashforth of Merion Golf Club.
The end of the line for us on the G&SW is famed Turnberry, which was built in 1903 by the railway itself as a luxury resort destination. The original layout was lost when the links was requisitioned by the military for use as a landing strip during World War II, but Mackenzie Ross arrived shortly thereafter and turned out the gem that we play today. From The Duel in the Sun in 1977 to Tom Watson’s age defying run in 2009, Turnberry has produced some of the most unforgettable moments in the history of the Open Championship. And while the Ailsa championship course provides equally spectacular experience for our members each and every year, it’s the Good Life that often proves to be the most memorable part of the Turnberry experience.
Have you experienced Golf and the Good Life along the G&SW Railway?