Dundonald Links

Much more than a golf course

Following its revival as a golf course in 2003, Dundonald Links rapidly acquired a reputation as one of the nation’s finest and most challenging links-style golf courses, playing host to a number of eminent tournaments including the 2017 Scottish Open.

But in spite of its success as a golf course, there was a sense that its location in an area of great natural beauty with excellent transport links to Scotland’s major cities offered the potential for further development.

That potential remained untapped until 2019, when Darwin Escapes purchased Dundonald Links and set about the task of transforming it into a venue where people could come not just to play golf but also to eat, sleep, and be entertained amid those beautiful surroundings.

Using the knowledge acquired through their ownership of a multitude of holiday parks and golf courses, the company invested heavily in the site, building a new clubhouse with top class restaurant as well as beautifully appointed lodges and hotel rooms, all constructed from sustainable wood.

The golf course also benefited from the investment programme, with its original designer, Kyle Phillips, being commissioned to introduce a number of improvements to the course. Moreover, the decision was made that Dundonald Links would become a course open to all rather than being home to a membership-based golf club.

The new clubhouse, lodges and hotel rooms opened in 2021, and three years on the scale and creativity of Darwin Escapes’ investment in Dundonald Links remains hugely impressive.

The downstairs portion of the clubhouse incorporates a reception area, a pro shop specialising in the sale of golf equipment and clothing, and male and female changing areas with saunas and showers, all beautifully presented and detailed. There is also a well-equipped gym for use by guests staying at Dundonald Links.

The Canny Crow restaurant is situated on the upper floor of the clubhouse along with The Whisky Room, a bespoke dining area for parties of up to sixteen people. Again, the level of presentation and attention to detail in both the Canny Crow and The Whisky Room is superb.

The Canny Crow gives access to a terrace with panoramic views over not only the golf course and nature reserve but also across the Firth of Clyde to Arran and beyond. A herb garden is situated on the terrace, offering not only beautiful aromas but herbs for use in the restaurant’s kitchen – a clever and appealing example of Dundonald Links’s commitment to sustainability, as also evidenced by the on-site milling of sand for use on the golf course and the harvesting of honey from beehives dotted around the course for use in the restaurant and sale in the shop.

The Canny Crow restaurant itself is open from 7am each day and offers an extensive menu of mouth-watering meals, snacks and drinks, using fresh local produce. Food orders close at 9pm but the restaurant remains open for drinks, including alcoholic beverages, until 11pm.

An award winning hotel, Dundonald Links has 22 well-appointed rooms, all situated a very short walk from the clubhouse. Each room is large, has spacious en-suite facilities and its own patio area. All of the rooms are situated at ground floor level, with two of them being specially designed for people with mobility issues, and there are also two pet-friendly rooms.

The complex also includes 18 lodges, all designed and equipped to the same exacting standards as the clubhouse and hotel rooms. Each lodge is equipped with a fully fitted kitchen, and barbeque equipment is available on request. The lodges are arranged in three clusters of six, with each cluster featuring one six-bedroom lodge, one four-bedroom lodge, and four two-bedroom lodges. In addition, each cluster has its own putting greens, which are of the same high standard as the greens on the golf course itself. And for those with pets, two of the lodges are pet-friendly.

The design, quality and welcoming feel of the clubhouse, hotel rooms, and lodges are all exemplary, but the most impressive thing about Dundonald Links is that it’s open to all. In other words, you don’t need to be a golfer to stay at Dundonald Links or enjoy a snack or meal at the restaurant. Likewise, anyone – individuals and corporate groups alike – who wishes to play a round of golf on the course is more than welcome to do so. Moreover, all visitors to Dundonald Links, whether golfers, holidaymakers, or restaurant patrons, benefit from the same warm welcome, relaxed vibe, and beautiful setting.

The golf course itself remains every inch as great a test of golfing ability as ever, and this was rewarded in 2023 when it was appointed as one of only four Final Qualifying venues for the Open Golf Championship. It will continue to remain so until at least 2026. In addition, this August will see Dundonald Links host the Women’s Scottish Open, a round of the prestigious Ladies European Tour.

On the subject of ladies, 2023 saw Vicki Harrison appointed as the first female General Manager of Dundonald Links. Ms. Harrison brings extensive experience in the hospitality sector and a customer-focused outlook to her role, and she and her accomplished and enthusiastic team of 90 employees look forward to welcoming you to Dundonald Links soon.

Dundonald Links, Ayr Road, Gailes, KA11 5BF
(01294) 314000