A links course wrapped up with gorse, heather and pine trees. It’s a lovely combination of colours, especially when you consider that the course (all 27 holes) is enclosed between two railway lines. This may not be right on the sea – you start inland – nor have obvious wispy dunes, but Kilmarnock still plays like a links where there are plenty of hollows, bumps, testing pot hole bunkers and a variety of burns, ditches and streaks of deep gorse. In places it feels quite wild… most noticeably on the long walk to the par three 4th (and the new nine holes). These holes have the strongest links traits, which is not surprising since they nestle up against both Western Gailes and Dundonald Links. Barassie’s par four 7th hole is part of the new nine, opened in the 1990s. At 430 yards it drives straight at the railway line before doglegging to run parallel to it. Heather is everywhere and it is as dangerous as it is colourful. In the bunkers, rakes stand upright to give fair warning of the threat that the sand poses. This is an Open Championship Final Qualifying course... and the ‘third’ old nine (Hillhouse) are definitely worth your time.
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