I called in as stop-off on the way to Ayrshire's fabled links and it was an ideal start to a golf trip. Another option would be to play here prior (or at the end) of a visit to Northern Ireland as the ferry port is very close by.
The course is not a links but on my visit in July 2021 it basically played like one for the most part. The fairways and green surrounds were burnt off and the ball was running a mile. The ground game was required and some of the terrain is certainly very linksy.
At other times we are faced with more tree-lined holes that are parkland in nature but the fairways were still fast running.
The golf club was actually founded in 1905 but the present course was designed in 1950 by the distinguished golf course architect James Braid following disruption to the original layout due to the Second World War. He passed away soon afterwards but his spirit lives on in this classic, old-fashioned course at Stranraer.
The 18 holes cover some varied terrain and this adds to the challenge and experience. Many of the fairways have some significant slopes to them and we are rarely traversing flat ground, indeed it is quite hilly at times. The walk is not too bad though since the course only covers 6,308 yards (par 70) at its maximum although the green-to-tee walk from the 9th to the 10th is a little irksome.
The signature hole at Stranraer is undoubtedly the 5th where we tee off from high and drive to a fairway way below running alongside Loch Ryan. It's an invigorating tee-shot.
The best hole on the course, however, may actually be the one that follows it. The 6th is a brilliant par-three, played slightly uphill, to a wonderfully sloping green complex with lots of interesting recovery shots should one miss it.
Other strong holes on the layout are the 10th, 14th, 15th on a back-nine which is at least the equal of the impressive font-nine.
The condition of the greens was also very good on my visit in July 2021 at this pleasant seaside course.
I didn't fall in love with Stranraer like I did with nearby Portpatrick but both would make an excellent double header.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.
The Blue is a mix of American-style design and traditional English parkland. It's an unusual combination which makes the most of the terrain available. It was designed by Simon Gidman and opened in 1994.