‘The Ayrshire‘ will be an internationally renowned 18-hole links course complete with adjoining hotel and selection of pioneering holiday homes designed to generate hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds to the local economy on the waterfront of Irvine Bay.
The £60 million development is a joint venture between property investment and development company Credential Holdings Limited and KPT Limited, the team behind the first ever authentic links course to be built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The new course has been designed by acclaimed golf architect David McLay Kidd, whose previous creations include The Castle course in St Andrews, Machrihanish Dunes at Kintyre and the celebrated Bandon Dunes in Oregon.
The development of The Ayrshire is a major coup for Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, whose principle role is to promote the physical transformation of the area by encouraging private sector investment to increase employment and boost economic recovery for the region.
“We are delighted that Irvine Bay Regeneration Company, having brought this exciting project to the market in March 2007, has reached the position where Credential Holdings and KPT have been identified as the preferred developers and their work on the project is imminent,” said Brian MacDonald, Regeneration Director.
“The creation of an outstanding Scottish links course with adjacent and high quality supporting leisure developments – including a new hotel – is an important piece of the jigsaw in developing an exciting and sustainable new future for Irvine Bay, bringing jobs, wealth and opportunity to the area.”
“We have the opportunity to create a golfing asset which will bring visiting golfers to the area and, importantly, provide the facilities to keep them in this area longer,” he added.
“Despite there being a number of exceptional golf courses in this area, they are predominantly private members clubs providing limited opportunity for visiting golfers at weekends.
”The Ayrshire ― with a new links golf course, a high class hotel and fractional ownership facilities ― will fill that gap and encourage more golfers for longer stays. This is a great asset for the area.”
Construction of the par 70 golf course and 220,000 square foot hotel facility, with clubhouse, professional’s shop, spa, restaurant and conference facilities is estimated to take around 20 months and involve at least 250 construction jobs.
Construction of the course will be overseen by Euan Grant, the former head green keeper of the old course at St Andrews.
“The Ayrshire is in a fantastic location, just outside Glasgow and the whole project comes complete with housing and hotels.” said Mr Grant. “It’s close to two or three world class golf courses and several other of Scotland’s top class courses.
“There are a lot of people who travel to Scotland to play, so being close to Troon and Prestwick makes Irvine Bay a good tour base to explore the quality courses that Scotland has to offer.
“Looking after the environment is vital when you’re building an authentic links course. We are the only people in the country who have been awarded a golf course on a SSSI site so you could say we are the most sensitive golf course developers in the country.”
On the Machrihanish Dunes project KPT Limited, employing the same team behind The Ayrshire, worked closely with ecologists and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to ensure their handmade course caused as little environmental disturbance as possible.
On completion the development will require the staffing of around 90 full time and 45 part time jobs ranging from green keeping staff to bar tenders, caddies and hotel managers.
Plans are also being considered for a terminal for Loch Lomond Seaplanes close to the resort which will further improve accessibility to the area. Should this go ahead The Ayrshire would be within minutes of Glasgow, Oban, and Loch Lomond.
The Ayrshire will differ from many other links courses in that it will be open to the public as a pay and play course, rather than for members only.
“It was important for us to make it a pay to play course so that it is accessible and not just another private members course,” said Derek Porter, group managing director of Credential Holdings Limited.
“We want as many local people to get involved as possible so those with a neighbouring postcode will pay less to play on the course. We also intend to build a caddie academy to train local teenagers.”
It has been estimated by the developers that around 25,000 rounds of golf a year will be played at The Ayrshire. If each golfer spends £200 locally, then the annual benefit to the economy will be around £5 million.
Credential Holdings has more than 30 years experience in property investment and development, especially in projects requiring a little imagination and flair. The company, which was founded by Glasgow property entrepreneur Barrie Clapham, own more than £250 million worth of UK property, with 85 per cent of their assets in Scotland.
Kintyre Property Trust (KPT) is currently putting the finishing touches to the creation of Machrihanish Dunes, the first golf course in the UK to be built on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The Irvine Bay Urban Regeneration Company is one of Scotland’s largest regeneration companies, helping to revitalise an area of outstanding natural beauty spanning 14 miles of sandy coastline. Their aim is to develop the built environment of the four seaside towns of Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Stevenston and Irvine and the abbey town of Kilwinning to engineer new investment and sustainable employment for the area.