One of the finest championship links courses in Scotland has undergone a new look to help boost enjoyment and playability. Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club, a former Open Final Qualifying and Amateur Championship venue, now boasts an impressive new short 12th hole and other subtle course changes that have helped increase membership at the west coast layout.
In the early 2000s, the prestigious Ayrshire club on the outskirts of Troon completed a project to add an additional nine holes to the existing historic 18-hole course, primarily to add length to the championship course and offer members more challenge and variety.
However, two parts of the site required having to walk over 400 yards between holes and Barassie have moved to address this issue in an era of trying to speed up the sport.
Working with renowned designer Paul Kimber, an area of the club’s property was identified to create an exciting new par-3 hole with good drainage and remove the walks. After gorse was taken away and sand imported from other parts of the site, the new 12th, known as ‘Hillhouse,’ replaces the former par-3 6th hole.
To create a better link between the 5th green and the former 7th fairway, Kimber has also built new teeing grounds near the 5th green to enable play towards the new 6th fairway from a completely different angle and achieve a right-to-left dogleg hugging the railway line.
With the alterations ready for the start of the 2019 season, the new 12th – which at 145 yards features an undulating green, pot bunkers around the green and a view to Arran looking back down the hole – has already proved popular with members and visitors.
Bob Anderson, Greens Convenor at Kilmarnock (Barassie), said: “We are absolutely delighted with the new 12th hole, it couldn’t have looked better. It is a well-designed signature par-3, with a nice yardage and improves the enjoyment of playing Barassie without the walks.
“Visitors or potential members were previously coming to Barassie and it was too long, overall. Over the years we have tried to get the playability up but retain the enjoyment and the new hole has already proved tremendously popular with all the members.”
The total yardage for the par-72 course has reduced by eight yards to 6,814, while the standard scratch for all levels remains the same.
Coupled with other initiatives such as rough reduction, the course changes have also helped Barassie to grow membership in these challenging times.
The club, which was founded in 1887 and the course finally laid as 18 holes in 1937, now has a total membership of over 1,100.
Claire Middleton, General Manager at Kilmarnock (Barassie), added: “We are thrilled with the new par-3 12th hole. Paul Kimber and his team managed not only to meet our budget and a tight schedule but, even more importantly, meet members’ expectations.
“We look forward to another great golfing season and our members and visitors enjoying the course changes.”
Barassie, which also boasts a 9-hole layout, counts former Amateur champion Gordon Sherry and fellow ex-Walker Cup winning players Jim Milligan and Jack McDonald among its current members.
The club also offers improved facilities in the clubhouse and professional’s shop, run by Gregor Howie.
Kilmarnock (Barassie) Golf Club https://www.kbgc.co.uk/
Pictures of the new 12th hole at Kilmarnock (Barassie) photo credit Kenny Smith