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Culzean Castle Golf Course, Ayrshire. 

The course was laid out in the spring of 1898 and continued until WW2.

The course was laid out following a visit by Lord Ailsa to Pau, France, in the late 1890s. When he returned to Scotland he arranged to have a nine-hole course laid out in the grounds of Culzean Castle.

The following rare and important report on the golf course is from the Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald Friday 30th September 1898.

“PROFESSIONAL TOURNAMENT AT CULZEAN – A professional tournament, in which several of the leading professionals were engaged, took place on the private course at Culzean Castle on Saturday. The course which was laid out for Lord Ailsa last spring, is situated on what used to be the Deer Park within the policies, and the first tee is within a few hundred yards of the castle. The round, which is of nine-holes, was laid out by Charlie Hunter, Prestwick, who has taken full advantage of the varied character of the ground, and utilised a series of hazards in such a manner as to make a very sporting inland course, about a mile and a half in extent. Lord Ailsa has recently taken up the game, and has had the French professional, Dominique Coussies, at Culzean during the summer posting him up in the niceities of the game. Coussies, however, returns for the winter season to Pau at the end of the month, and this circumstance was chosen by his Lordship to bring together a few of the professionals to signalise the occasion, and he provided two fine gold medals to be competed for.

The following professionals were invited; W Fernie, Troon; John Hunter, Prestwick; James Kinnell, Prestwick St Nicholas; Dominique Coussies, Pau; Charles Neaves, Bogside; J Tulloch, Gailes; Stewart Gardiner, Troon; G Dunn, Biarritz, who is in Scotland with Sir James Bell. The professional were drawn as follows; Fernie and Hunter; Kinnell and Neaves; Tullooch and Gardiner; Coussies and Dunn. Previous to beginning the competition they all had a preliminary round on the links. There was a heavy dew all over the course and very little run could be got from the balls, while the putting greens were heavy. When the competition was entered upon John Hunter established a commanding lead over all his opponents. Playing an almost perfect game, going round on what is about par for the round, 36, and a record for the course, he led Fernie by three strokes, the ex-champion taking 39. Tulloch made the next best score, 41; Gardener was 42; Kinnell, 43; Coussies, 44; Dunn, 46; Neaves, 49. They all found the greens difficult to negotiate, and while the driving was all over very good, three on the green was was of very frequent occurance. In the second round interest naturally centered on the game between Fernie and Hunter who in the end tied with 77 and, as it turned out, none of the other competitors came near this score, the only players who improved on their first round being Coussies and Kinnell. There being a tie for the two medals, it was decided to play a match game over 5 holes, and Fernie won right of the reel by securing the first three holes in four,three, three, his opponent taking one more at each hole.

At the conclusion of the competition Lord Ailsa handed the medals to the winners, and thanked all the professionals for responding to his invitation. The medals bore the following inscription – “From the Marquis of Ailsa, Culzean, 24th September,1898.” Mr Adam Wood, Troon, responded on behalf of the professional’s. Mr Wood then presented the professional, Coussies, with a gold medal as a momento of his sojourn in Scotland, and of a match he had won in partnership with the donor. The professionals were entertained to lunch at the Castle, and were shown the grounds and through the gardens, and were highly delighted with the day’s proceedings.”

The late golf historian, Alan Jackson, wrote that James Braid visitied the castle in 1927 to reconfigure the existing course and extend it to 18-holes.

Lord Ailsa died in April 1938 aged 90. He had been a member of Prestwick Golf Club from 1871 and at the time of his death was the oldest club member. He was elected captain at Prestwick in 1889. It was on his initiative, and at his expense, that the first of the two eighteen-hole courses at Turnberry was laid out. The two Turnberry courses were eventually taken over by the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company in connection with their hotel there.   

The Culzean course continued until WW2, and it’s possible that Presiden Eisenhower, who stayed at Culzean when in Britain, may have played the course.

 

Culzean Castle Golf Course, Ayrshire. View of the castle from the sea.

View of Culzean Castle from the sea.

 

The Google Map below pinpoints the Deer Park.