Barassie’s story begins in the 1870s with the men of Kilmarnock, Scotland, who grew tired of making the 10-mile journey to Troon (which didn’t become Royal Troon until 1978) for their golf. Looking to play closer to home, they founded a new nine-hole course on a local farm, but the farmer-cum-greenskeeper refused to cut the grass and covered the turf with manure. In 1894, the men built a new 18-hole course designed by Theodore Moon at Barassie, a seaside town two miles up the coast from Troon. It’s been their home ever since.
Today, Barassie serves as an Open Championship final qualifying venue and boasts some of the smoothest, fastest greens in Ayrshire. At first glance, the course seems like an inland design, featuring many trees but few views of the sea. However, its links nature quickly becomes evident: conditions are firm and fast, and the ocean, while out of sight, supplies strong breezes.
Nine of Moon’s original holes—some expanded over the years—were seamlessly joined to a new nine in 1997, creating a Championship course of just under 7,000 yards from the tips. (The other original holes now comprise a third nine.) It’s a difficult course, requiring a high degree of local knowledge: Many of the holes are doglegs calling for well-placed tee shots around blind corners. The round finishes on one such dogleg, which although short at 370 yards manages to sting golfers with its three-tiered green.
Although other Ayrshire courses receive more attention, few can match the challenge of Barassie.