The Open Championship will return to the Ayrshire coast in 2016 when the 145th Open Championship is played at Royal Troon. It will be the ninth time that the Championship has been held over the famous links, most recently in 2004 when veteran American Todd Hamilton held off three-time major champion Ernie Els in a play-off.
This famous Open Championship venue needs little introduction and is one of the finest golf destinations anywhere in the world. Turnberry was the setting one of the finest sporting occasions of all time almost took place when Tom Watson came so close to landing the Claret Jug for a sixth time when just shy of his 60th birthday in 2009.
In February 2003, Loch Lomond Golf Club acquired a new links course near Troon. It was intended to not only enhance the club's prominence within international circles but also to provide its esteemed international membership with a challenging alternative links venue. Designed by the highly respected golf course architect Kyle Phillips, Dundonald was inspired by the timeless architecture of the great Ayrshire links courses of Royal Troon, Prestwick and Western Gailes, all connected by the historic rail line.
Founded in 1897, the club has hosted a number of prestigious tournaments, including the Scottish Amateur Championship, the 1972 Curtis Cup, the 1964 PGA Championship, and in 2007 was host to the European Men's Amateur Team Championship. The course has been used for final qualifying when the Open is played at Turnberry or Royal Troon, and also as a final qualifying venue for the Seniors Open.
Glasgow Gailes course designer, former Open Championship winner, Willie Park always believed this links to be one of his best creations. The classic layout is tough, fair and traditionally Scottish, wild heather and gorse define the fairways and the greens are guarded by strategically placed bunkers. Glasgow Gailes is the current home of The Open Qualifying in Scotland.
Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club is to be found on the outskirts of Troon and offers the visitor 27 holes. With the addition of nine new holes on land between Barassie and the Dundonald course, the club now has a lengthened 18 hole Championship Links complemented by one of the best nine hole stretches in Scotland.
Irvine Golf Club, known locally as Bogside, is a traditional links course owing much of its character to the famous James Braid, who designed many of Scotland's top courses. The course can best be described as a mix of links and heathland. The fairways are built on sand and are divided by gorse and heather and every hole has its own identity whilst the quality of greens is traditionally amongst the courses strengths. The course is not long by present day standards, 6423 yards, but demands accurate shot making and missed fairways and greens can be well punished.