Jamie Darling’s New Baby

The Earl of Mar course at Mar Hall

Jamie Darling has been a golf pro for many years — in places as far-flung as Iceland.  But his new “baby” is Mar Hall, where he’s led the golf operation since 2011. The proud new father of daughter Freya, who was born the day before the Golf Road Warriors arrived at Mar Hall, Jamie still found time to host our dinner at this grand hotel upon our arrival. Over glasses of champagne in the hotel’s elegant Spike Bar before we sat down to dine, Jamie told us about the history and character of the course, which is younger than Jamie’s other daughter, who is six. By Scottish standards, that is very young indeed.

The course, called the Earl of Mar course after the man who built this extraordinary manor home property in the 1820s, lies just minutes from Glasgow Airport. Mar was one of seven kingdoms in ancient Scotland, and “Earl of Mar” is the oldest title in Britain. History suggests that both Mary Queen of Scots and Robert the Bruce visited the Mar Estate. Today it was our turn. With spectacular views of the River Clyde and the Kilpatrick Hills beyond, the 18-hole Earl of Mar championship course offers a five-star golf experience. Jamie and his staff see to the golfer’s every need, and the course offers both riding carts and power-caddies, so if your legs are a bit tired after a long week of links golf, as ours were, you have some options.

The Mar Hall estate has dozens of beautiful specimen trees, many of which come into play as you wind your way around the course.

The course was designed by respected golf course architect Dave Thomas, who is best known for his work at The Belfry in England, along with his designs at San Roque and La Manga in Spain. Despite its relative youth, the Earl of Mar course gives the impression of a well-established course. It’s shaped around 250-year-old sweet chestnut, beech and Sitka spruce trees, with strategically placed bunkers providing a challenge throughout your round. Mar Hall offers an exclusive private members’ club experience, yet welcomes the resident, corporate and society or pay-and-play golfer.  The course is easy to find, too — just travel across the Erskine Bridge and look down along the southern bank of the Clyde.

The friendly, par-70 course stretches to just over 6,500 yards from the tips. So while it’s a parkland course, it’s no walk in the park. From the white tees, seven of the par 4s are over 400 yards, including the 449-yard 4th and 442-yard 11th. Into the wind, these holes will give you all you can handle.

The picturesque green site at the par-4 14th.

The par 3s are stout tests, as well. Allie, who works with Jamie in the pro shop, reported that during member events it’s pretty rare to see a “2” on someone’s scorecard. Only one of these one-shotters holes is shorter than 180 yards – so bring a good long-iron game when you come. The earl of Mar course has a relaxed and gentle feel to it, and the course’s setting in the shadow of grand Mar Hall itself – with the River Clyde ever in view – makes you feel like you’re to the manor born here. Mar Hall’s staff does the same. A more accommodating group of hospitality professionals you are not likely to find.

Whether you are just beginning a golf trip to the area or are returning to Glasgow Airport to catch a flight home, be sure to make room in your schedule for a night and a round of golf at Mar Hall. And make sure you ask Jamie to see young Freya’s baby pictures.

Fore more on the adventures of our Golf Road Warriors Scotland group, go here.

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