I REALLY walked on Ayr enjoying the sunrise on my walk down the fairways for breakfast.
Fresh from a blissful night in one of the sensational lodges at Dundonald Links Golf Resort, I was ready for three eventful days on the south west coast of.
But first there was the serenity of sipping my latte on the clubhouse veranda, watching the first light of day glittering in the Firth of Clyde and gradually revealing the Isle of Arran on the horizon.
This beautiful part ofis home to some world-class companies courses and has welcomed some of the sport’s most famous faces.
Dundonald Links has two, four and six bedroom lodges that are right on the fairway and provide a perfect base for exploring this historic part of the world.
Then there’s the private practice area right outside our back door that takes the lodge to a new level. Dundonald Links is the venue for this year’s Women’s Scottish Open and the final qualifier for The Open.
It was the perfect test for our mixed ability group and one of the best courses I have ever played on.
Beautiful yellow gorse bushes perfectly framed the championship quality fairways.
The wavy greens were challenging but fun. And the rough was punishing but not prohibitive, after some inevitable rogue rides of mine.
However, I managed to avoid the deadly 112-year-old bunker on the par-3 11th.
While we played, the non-golfers took us to visit the nearby Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, which celebrates the Ayrshire-born national bard whose 18th-century songs and poems are loved around the world.
Glasgow city center is only a 45 minute drive away if you prefer to shop. A highlight was bustling Buchanan Street, home of the original House of Fraser, founded in 1849.
Or you can enjoy water sports on the nearby River Doon. We were driven there by Dundonald’s urbane concierge Davey (who may be the friendliest guy I’ve ever met) to meet up with paddleboard guide Craig.
We spent the following two oh so peaceful hours gliding up and down the river, past swan nests and ducks, from the waterfall to the vast bay of Ayr.
And with Craig’s help, getting up on the boards was a breeze.
When it comes to Scottish food, the resort’s Canny Crow restaurant offers decadent choices.
After dinner, it’s best to have a toast in the specially designed whiskey room, The Bonnie, complete with a £500,000 cask of 36-year-old Bunnahabhain.
Local expert David Iain Grant took us through five carefully selected drams.
I finally stumbled out and declared the 25 year old Bowmore my favorite with its smoky peat flavor.
We crowned our trip in a spectacular way with a round in the Royal Troon –Venue of this year’s Open Event.
You could feel itoozed off the walls as we changed in the same changing room as previous Open champions, most recently Henrik Stenson.
The Open’s legendary Claret Jug trophy loomed over us as we nervously hit the first tee.
And it’s a memory I’ll long remember hacking my way out of the same evil bunker on the Postage Stamp’s legendary eighth hole that it famously took Rory McIlroy six to get out of in 2016.
GET THERE: EasyJet flies to Glasgow from Gatwick, Birmingham and Bristol and other UK airports from £22.49 each way. See easyjet.com.
REMAIN: A bed and breakfast in a six bedroom lodge costs from £135 per person for 12 people. Two and four bedroom lodges are available. See dundonaldlinks.com.
DUNDONALD GREEN FESTIVAL: Resident prices are £120 for two rounds from 1st January to 12th May or from £250 for two rounds from 13th May to 15th October.