At World’s Best Golf Destinations, we don’t just write about the experience of playing the marquee courses, we write about great golf courses that, in our humble opinion, are worth you spending your hard-earned cash to visit.
You might not have heard about them. You might not even know where they are, but after reading about our experience of playing them, sometimes staying onsite or nearby, we hope you will consider visiting them. That’s what we are here for. Consider us as your guide to playing golf, both near and far.
The Dumfries and County Golf Club is one of those courses. Dumfries is a market town in the southwest of Scotland, only 25 miles from the border with England. The course is situated within the town and is a parkland course with mature trees and frequent elevation changes.
The Club was established in 1912 and the original course was laid out by an Open Champion, Willie Fernie. The course was then overhauled by a five-time Open Champion and celebrated course architect James Braid, in the late 1920s. It’s not a long course. The yardage ranges from 5420 yards to 5925 yards from the back tees.
We chose to play from the back tees and after some course advice from the Head Professional, James Erskine, off we go.
Approach to the first green
The opening hole is a short par 4 of only 291 yards. Local restrictions, and houses to the right, don’t allow you to use anything other than an iron off the tee. The hole plays downhill and sweeps from left to right. James had advised us to use a 7 iron off the tee and we went with that club. This left us with a wedge into a green which sat slightly above us. You have to make sure your approach goes far enough as there is a false front with will repel any shot that isn’t up or that has too much spin on it. We know this to our cost and it led to any opening bogey!
Can you spot the pin?
The second hole measures 395 yards. We elected to hit a 3 wood off the tee which left us 158 yards to the middle of the green. The challenge here is depth perception. What looks like the front of the green in the photo, isn’t. The green is further back so trust the yardage. We went with 7 iron and finished pin high, about 20 feet away. Two putts later and we had our first par. Two more pars followed at holes 3 and 4, which are both short, tricky par 4’s of under 330 yards.
The Hardest Hole
The challenging 5th hole
The fifth plays 364 yards. We went with the driver off the tee and managed to hit the fairway. Our GPS said it was 134 yards to the middle of the green, but the green was at least 10-15 yards above us. We hit a solid 7 iron to a pin we could only see the top of. After walking up the hill, our calves were burning. However the discomfort was eased when we saw our approach was only 10 feet from the pin. We sank the putt for our first birdie at the hole that was stroke index 1, the hardest hole on the course!
The first par 3
The sixth hole is the first par 3. It plays 185 yards downhill from the elevated tee to a double green, shared with the first hole. Our 6 iron finished on the front left of the sloping green. We managed to sink our six-footer for par after the first putt got away from us.
Tough End to the Front Nine
Approach to the 7th Green
The seventh hole is the only par 5 on the course. It measures 519 yards and plays every yard of it. We went with the driver off the tee which left us with an uphill, blind second shot of 270 yards. We hit a 4 hybrid and pushed it a little. Just as well it was a little as our ball finished about a foot from the out-of-bounds fence on the right. It’s a narrow entrance into the green as you can see from the photo. Those trees on the left and the out-of-bounds on the right will make it a 3 shot hole for most players.
The eighth hole is a strong par 4 of 433 yards. It took a good drive and a 6 iron to reach this green. Two putts and we reached the ninth tee level par.
The 9th, an uphill par 3.
The 9th hole is 172 yards but plays substantially uphill. We went with 5 iron and thinned it a little. It reached the front of the green but then rolled back about 5 yards. A poor pitch and we ended the front nine as we had started, with a bogey.
The Back Nine
The ninth green and tenth tee are just in front of the Clubhouse so two great loops of nine holes. The back nine has fewer elevation changes but some challenging holes.
The 10th hole
The tenth hole is drivable for the longer hitter. It’s 278 yards with the second half of the hole playing slightly uphill. We hit 3 wood as it was playing downwind and might have reached it it wasn’t 25 yards left and heading for the trees. It clattered into the copse and rebounded some 50 yards across the fairway into the right rough. A hack out with a lob wedge onto the green and two putts and we had our par. No pictures on the scorecard!!
The Best Hole on the Course?
Your Second Shot to the 12th
In our opinion, the 12th hole is possibly the best hole on the course. From the back tee, it measures 428 yards. You can’t see a lot of the fairway from the tee, which is why there is a raised viewing platform behind the tee. The best line off the tee is down the left, which we found out by pure luck. This gives you the view above and a straight line into the green. Anything up the right off the tee and you get neither a view nor a shot into the green. It took a well-struck 5 iron to get us to the green and we made our par.
The 13th is the longest par 4 on the course at 450 yards and it’s followed by the shortest par 3, at only 90 yards. You can’t see the green, only a bit of the flag. We hit a gap wedge to 8 feet and made the birdie putt.
Approach to the 15th
The fifteenth hole is a cracking hole. At 371 yards, you aim to hit your tee shot over the ridge in the fairway. Do that and the ball will run an extra 20 yards. A good drive over the ridge left us 90 yards to the pin. A gap wedge to 3 feet and we had another birdie! Special thanks to the guys who waved us through on this hole. They got to witness us getting to one under par for our round.
A par followed at the 201 yards par 3 16th and we had our chance of shooting under par for the first time this year.
The 17th hole
The adrenaline must have kicked in as we covered the 381 yards to the 17th green with a driver and a wedge. Two putts and we needed a par at the last to shoot 68, one under.
Can We Do It?
Our Approach to the last
The last hole is 379 yards. You don’t see much of the hole from the tee as you are hitting up over a ridge. We hit the driver and again hit the fairway. Yes, I know it’s unusual. The breeze was into us so we went with a 9 iron. It landed on the front right of the green but spun back off the putting surface, which is even more unusual than us hitting fairways. We took the putter and rolled it up to four feet. A knee-trembler to finish.
In it went and we had our first round under par in 2023. One over out, and a two under 32 on the back nine. I told you it was a fun course!
Dumfries and County Golf Club is a fantastic place to play golf. The course was in excellent condition and would be a wonderful place for a golf outing. The course is relatively short but it’s tricky. Stray offline and miss a few greens and you won’t play to your handicap. That’s what makes it great to play. Play well and you can score. If you are wayward, you will get punished. What more can you ask for?
Thank you to Head Professional James Erskine and his team for looking after us. James, you can probably tell we really enjoyed our visit, and it wasn’t just because we shot under par. Honest….
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Cairndale Hotel and Leisure Club, which was about a mile from Dumfries and County. It’s been in the Wallace family for 40 years and has a total of 91 bedrooms. Many of the staff have worked at the hotel for many years. It was obvious to us that they loved working there and that love was being reciprocated by the owners who have heavily invested in staff training and a refurbishment plan which is currently underway.
We stayed in one of the more traditional rooms, which is yet to be refurbished but was very comfortable. It’s not often we get a four-poster bed. The room also had a large ensuite. It had a dual aspect with a large bay window to the front and a smaller window to the side and lovely views down towards the centre of town. The location of the hotel so close to the town makes it ideal for both golfers and tourists alike.
The Reivers Restaurant
Dinner in the Reivers was fantastic. It was made even more special by Hassan, the Restaurant’s Manager. In conversation, Hassan told us he was from Northern Kenya and was from the Masai tribe. He has worked at the Cairndale for a total of 16 years. We couldn’t resist asking him about his journey from Kenya to Dumfries and his story is special. We won’t spoil it by telling it but if you happen to visit, he will be pleased to tell you.
Fantastic Food in the Reivers
The food in the Reivers is excellent. We had Roasted Chicken with pasta and the Pan Roasted Fillet of Pork. Both meals were expertly prepared and were very tasty. They were washed down with a lovely bottle of the House Red. Our first night at the Cairndale came to a close with a couple of Gin and Tonics as a nightcap. What a lovely evening for our first stay at the hotel.
We will talk more about the Cairndale Hotel and Leisure Club in our next article when we visit Southerness, the most southerly links course in Scotland.
At a Glance:
- 18-hole parkland course
- Large practice area
- Fully stocked Professional shop
- Indoor Swing Studio
- Fun, tricky and undulating course in excellent condition
- Accuracy over length will reap rewards here
- Located in the town of Dumfries, 90 minutes south of Glasgow.