WBGD Plays the Most Southerly 18 Hole Links Course in Scotland, Southerness Golf Club

Heading Down Memory Lane

When we got the opportunity to go and play at Southerness Golf Club for WBGD, it took us back to a place where we first played in a National Tournament. In 1995, our handicap was finally low enough (3.4) to enter the Scottish Amateur Championship at Southerness. We haven’t been back since. So 28 years later, we were back and we have to be honest, we didn’t remember much about the course.

All we remember was that after winning our first match, we went out in the second round when Scottish Internationalist Garry Hay won 4&3. The upside of that defeat was that six weeks later, our handicap had reduced to 0.1. The first time we got to say we were a scratch golfer, at aged 35!

Anyway, enough about us. What about Southerness?

Brief History

Southerness was first laid out in 1946. Designed by Mackenzie Ross, the course opened for play in 1947. The Club has hosted a number of National Championships including 3 Scottish Amateurs, the Scottish Strokeplay, Scottish Ladies and Boys as well as the British Ladies and Youths Championship and the British Boys Home Internationals.

The Championship Course

As we mentioned earlier, we don’t remember much about the course so this opportunity to play here again would possibly bring back some memories. We chose to play from the back tees, the blues at 6735 yards. There are four sets of tees available and they range from 5624 yards up to the ones we were playing from.

The first green

The opening hole plays 393 yards and was into the freshening breeze. We went with the driver off the tee and finished on the left side of the fairway. We had 160 yards to the centre of the green and hit a solid 5 iron which came up short in the bunker. A splash-out and a missed putt and we start with an all too familiar bogey. (Check our other reviews) After a solid par at the second, we stood on the third tee trying to pick a line.

Disaster Strikes

The view for our fourth shot at the third!

Standing on the third tee, it looks as if you can carry the burn and the rough on the left to reach the fairway. It may look like that but we failed to do it into the wind. A hack out with an 8 iron squirted across the fairway into the right rough. A 4 hybrid up the fairway left us with the shot above. Needless to say, we failed to get up and down and recorded a double bogey 6 on this hole. Play safe off the tee, don’t be suckered into taking on too much off the tee!

The fourth hole

The 4th hole is the first par 3. As we approached the tee, the rain came on and we were still playing into the wind. We chose to hit the 4 hybrid on this 166-yard hole and pulled it left of the green, just short of pin high. A decent pitch and a ten-footer and we secured our par.

Chance for a Birdie?

The par 5 fifth

The 5th hole is the first of two par 5’s. At 532 yards it was out of reach in two for us. The hole shapes from right to left. A decent tee shot left us with over 270 yards to the green. We laid up with a 4 hybrid and then hit a sand wedge into 25 feet. Our putt came up short but we made our par.

The 7th hole

The 7th hole plays 213 yards. We went with our 3 hybrid and finished on the front left of the green. Two putts and we secured our par. Beware the bunkers on this hole, it wouldn’t be easy to make par from them. After a 3 wood, 9 iron to the green and two putte at the 8th, we headed to the 9th tee. By now the rain had eased and we had the wind to dry us out.

Our second shot to the 9th

The 9th hole is stroke index 1 and at 471 yards, it’s the longest par 4 on the course. Our tee shot was downwind so we went with a 3-wood off the tee. The 3 wood found the fairway and had 192 yards to the green. We hit a solid 6 iron which wasn’t quite enough to climb the false front. We duffed our chip but managed to get up and down for a bogey. Four over at the turn.

Homeward Bound

View from behind the 10th green

The back nine starts with a par 3. At 166 yards, it’s the same yardage as the 4th, where we hit a 4 hybrid. This time we were downwind and 8 iron was too much club. We finished in the back bunker and failed to get out on our first attempt. We had another go and almost holed it. An easy bogey…

The View of the 12th Green and Beyond

The 12th hole, in our opinion, is the best hole on the course. A 424-yard dogleg from left to right, you don’t see much of the fairway from the tee. Picking your line is tricky so we went for safety and played left of the bunker on the corner. This left us with a great view of the green and the beach beyond. the wind was from right to left and our 6 iron stalled and ended up in the front bunker. Our bunker shot was decent, finishing 8 feet from the pin but we again missed the putt. Another bogey! At least we got a fantastic view of the beach and the Solway Firth to compensate for our average golf.

The Finishing Stretch

The 15th Hole

After making a couple of pars at 13 and 14, we arrived at what in our opinion, is the best-looking par 3 on the course. The 15th, at 218 yards, is no pushover however it was playing slightly downwind and left to right. We went with our 3 hybrid and managed to reach the front edge. Our 50-foot putt came up 5 feet short but we managed to hole it to make our par. A couple of pars followed at the 16th and 17th and we stepped onto the 18th tee, 6 over par.

The Closing Hole

The Approach to the 18th Green

The last hole is a 537-yard par 5. As the wind was blowing left to right, we opted to go with 3 wood off the tee. We hit a cracker and ended up on the right side of the fairway. We tried to hit a 3 wood stinger for our second shot but failed miserably as all we did was top it. If you are going to duff it, duff it straight as our top went about 190 yards and left us 100 yards into the green. A pitch and two putts and we were finished at 6 over. Not great but not too bad either in the wind and rain.


Our long-awaited return to Southerness was over. The course was in pretty good condition although it was obvious that they were just coming out of a dry spell. The greens were excellent and although we didn’t sink much, that was down to misreads and poor stokes rather than anything to do with the putting surfaces. Southerness is a very flat links course so you don’t get dramatic views of the holes from the tees, which means it is a challenge to pick the right line off some of them. We think it’s one of those courses where the more you play it, the better you will score.

Southerness is a testing links course and it’s also the most southerly 18 hole links course, in Scotland. I wonder if someday we will get to play the most northerly? Maybe we will, who knows?

Where to Stay

The Cairndale

Again, we would recommend staying in the Cairndale Hotel in Dumfries. Southerness is about a 30-minute drive due south of Dumfries. Although we didn’t get the opportunity to use the Leisure Club, the hotel’s pool and gym facilities are excellent.

The Pool and Jacuzzi

As we mentioned in our previous Dumfries and County article, the food in the Reivers Restaurant is superb. We had the Sea Bass and the Breast of Duck on our second evening in the hotel. It was wonderful and beautifully presented.

Awesome Food

The Sea Bass                                                                          Breast of Duck

We also previously discussed the current refurbishment programme. The hotel is balancing a very busy summer with the refurbishment plans. Guests will not be inconvenienced during these changes and the work will be spread out over the coming months and years. It’s a big investment by the Wallace family and we look forward to visiting again once all the work is completed. Below is a short video of some of the refurbished areas.

Cairndale Hotel Refurbishment Video

We highly recommend a stay at The Cairndale. Not only is it in the centre of town and has excellent facilities, but the staff are outstanding. Nothing is too much of a problem and it’s obvious to us that they enjoy working at the hotel. Well-trained and attentive staff, comfortable beds, large bathrooms, excellent leisure facilities and outstanding food. What’s not to love about the Cairndale?

Thank you to Ronnie McNellie, the manager at Southerness for hosting us. Thank you to everyone at The Cairndale Hotel and the Wallace family for having us stay at your hotel. It was a wonderful experience and we look forward to returning in the future.

At a Glance:
  • 18-hole championship links
  • Practice area and short game area
  • Remote and peaceful location on the Solway Firth
  • Comfortable Clubhouse and starters office
  • No pro shop but some limited stock in the starters office
  • 30 minutes from Dumfries town centre
  • Stay at the Cairndale Hotel in Dumfries Town Centre
  • Outstanding food in the Reivers Restaurant

Jim Callaghan has been a Category One Golfer for over 45 years. Recently retired from Club Management, he now walks the fairways of some of the best golf courses in the UK, Ireland and Europe and writes about the experience of playing and staying at them for worldsbestgolfdestinations.com

Now in his 60’s, he is still carrying his bag, although maybe not for much longer!

If you would like Jim to write about your venue, email him at [email protected] or call him on 0044 (0) 78522 88732