A DELIGHTFUL PARKLAND COURSE AND PLAYING HERE, YOU ARE AWARE THAT YOU ARE IN THE HEART OF "BURNS COUNTRY", WHERE THE FAMOUS POET ROBERT BURNS WAS BORN AND RAISED.

During 1937 Ayr Town Council purchased the farms of Dalmilling and High Thorneyflat for the construction of council housing. By June 1939 house construction was well advanced, and Duncan McCulloch, the professional at Royal Troon, was asked to advise on the layout of a municipal golf course on part of the former farmland. It was to be bounded by the new housing scheme on the north and west, the planned new bypass road on the east, and the proposed new road through Craigie estate on the south. It was intended that construction would take place during the winter, but in September 1939 the Second World War began, and the golf course plans were suspended.

After the end of the war in 1945, other Council projects took priority, and it was not until 1958 that planning of the golf course was resumed. In March 1959, borrowing for this purpose was approved by the Secretary of State for Scotland provided it could be completed by the end of the 1959/60 financial year. The Council’s superintendent of parks was then instructed to engage the services of the golf course construction firm John R. Stutt Limited of Paisley, to advise on the layout of a nine hole course. The firm duly submitted a plan, which was approved by the Council on 8 June 1959. The former Dalmilling farmhouse was converted to become the clubhouse.

The official opening of Dalmilling Golf Course took place on Saturday 18 September 1960. Provost William Lanham made a speech in which he said that, while there was no immediate prospect of extending the course to eighteen holes, he hoped that this would be possible when the bypass road – then under construction – had been completed. The first ball was driven off by Police Judge Joseph Glendinning, convener of parks. An exhibition foursome match was then played by Mrs Betty Singleton of Prestwick St Nicholas (West of Scotland Women’s Champion), Miss Dorothea Sommerville of Haggs Castle Golf Club, James McKay of Prestwick St Nicholas and William Hastings, the professional at Barassie. (Press reports at the time do not give the outcome of the game.) James McKay subsequently became the professional at Dalmilling.

This nine hole course was bounded on the south west by Mainholm Road. The original intention was that the course would be extended east of the bypass, and would be accessed by a tunnel running under the roadway. Informal talks about this between Ayr Town Council and Ayr County Council had already taken place by the time of the September 1960 opening. However, it was eventually decided that a stretch of riverside land west of Mainholm Road would be acquired for the extension. Plans were approved in summer 1965, and the work was carried out during the following winter. Two extra holes were created on the original course, and seven on the additional ground. The planning and construction of the extension was carried out by the Council’s own Parks and Recreation Department, under its superintendent Robert Wakefield. Help and advice was provided by Jimmy McKay the course professional and the council’s cleansing superintendent, Robert Hamilton, a keen golfer and a member of the Prestwick St Nicholas club.

The extended course was officially opened on Saturday 11 June 1966. Police Judge Joseph Glendinning made a speech and Provost Charles O’Halloran drove off the first ball. It had been hoped that the same foursome who had inaugurated the original course in 1960 would play another exhibition match on this occasion, but Dorothea Somerville (now Mrs J. L. Hastings) was unable to attend. Her place was taken by Mrs Margaret Sharp of Troon (Caldwell Golf Club), who partnered Willie Hastings – they beat Betty Singleton and Jimmy McKay. The match was watched by a large number of spectators, and several balls were lost in the woodland area which was part of the extension.

Tom Barclay

Reference & Local History Librarian

South Ayrshire Libraries & Museums

November 2015