The town of Troon, 11km (7 miles) north of Ayr and about 50km (31 miles) southwest of Glasgow, looks out across the Firth of Clyde toward the Isle of Arran. Troon takes its name from the curiously hook-shaped promontory jutting out into the sea: The trone or "nose." From this port, a ferry sails March to October to Larne in Northern Ireland.
Troon and its environs offer several sandy links courses, most prominently the Royal Troon Golf Club, Craigend Rd., Troon, Ayrshire KA10 6EP (tel. 01292/311-555; www.royaltroon.co.uk). Royal Troon is a 7,150-yard seaside course that hosts the prestigious Open Championship, which was last played here in 2004. Hole 8, the famous "Postage Stamp," may be only 123 yards in distance, but depending upon the wind, you may need a wood or wedge to reach the green. A second course, the 6,289-yard Portland, is arguably even more challenging. Visitors, with certificate of handicap (20 for men and 30 for women), can play the course from May through October on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The 1-day fee to play one round on the Old Course and one on Portland is around £240, which includes morning coffee and a buffet lunch. Two rounds on Portland are about half the cost.
A less expensive and still gratifying option is to play one of Troon's municipal courses run by the South Ayrshire Council, such as Darnley or Lochgreen, which runs parallel to Royal Troon at spots. Fees during the weekend range from £18 to £32. Another option is a six-round, 7-day golf pass from the council for £88. Log onto www.golfsouthayrshire.com, or call the South Ayrshire Golf hotline on tel. 01292/616-255.
Trains from Glasgow's Central Station stop at Troon several times daily. The trip takes about 40 minutes, and the standard same-day round-trip fare is about £12. Trains and buses also connect Ayr with Troon, which is about a 10-minute ride. Call tel. 0870/608-2608 for public transportation information.