Dundonald Links sold to UK leisure operator for more than £4 million

One of the UK’s greatest golf courses has been sold for £4.5 million to a leisure operator that is investing in the golf industry.

Dundonald Links, venue for both the men’s and ladies’ Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Opens in 2017, and a club that regularly features in the list of the top 100 in the UK, has been sold to Darwin Leisure, according to bunkered.co.uk and The Scotsman.

In 2017 the company purchased The KP Club, a 180-acre luxury holiday and golf resort in Yorkshire for an undisclosed fee. The company says it intends to invest heavily in its new acquisition, which is expected to include a new clubhouse and, potentially, new homes and lodges.

Its previous owner was Loch Lomond Golf Club.

The general manager at Loch Lomond, Bill Donald, said: “It is a bit of a wrench as we have built Dundonald Links up, but we think Darwin Leisure can give the club what is now required, so we have decided to sell to for an acceptable offer of £4.5 million.

“It is purely an investment opportunity for Dundonald Links, which includes building a clubhouse and property as well.”

Under the deal, Loch Lomond members will continue to have playing rights at the Ayrshire course, which was designed by Kyle Phillips and was originally called Southern Gailes.

“Part of the agreement is that Loch Lomond members have the right to play at Dundonald Links, which was an important part of the deal,” added Donald.

“It is a very positive story. Dundonald Links has been a huge success for us, hosting three Ladies Scottish Opens and the Scottish Open once.

“It is profitable, having been turned around since we bought it. It is a viable, attractive purchase and that is a huge credit to all the staff both there and also here at Loch Lomond.”

A number of leisure operators have been snapping up golf clubs in recent months. Cherry Burton Golf Club in Yorkshire has been sold to Aureus Leisure, Warner Leisure Hotels has acquired the Heythrop Park Resort, on the edge of the Cotswolds, hotel operator Arora Hotels has purchased The Buckinghamshire GC and hotel brand Hilton has bought its first golf resort in Scotland – The Westerwood.

A spokesman for Darwin Leisure said: “Dundonald Links will now join the Darwin Escapes Golf portfolio of golf courses, which also includes The Springs in Oxfordshire and The KP Club in Yorkshire.

“Darwin Escapes has recently made a multi-million pound investment to upgrade the clubhouse facilities and course at The Springs and has ambitious plans to transform the clubhouse at Dundonald Links in order to create a state-of-the art facility with high quality leisure and dining options and a market-leading indoor performance centre.”

Commenting on the acquisition, Anthony Esse, chief executive of Darwin Alternatives, the investment advisor to the Darwin Leisure Development Fund, said: “We are absolutely delighted to announce the addition of Dundonald Links to the Darwin Escapes portfolio of golf courses. Dundonald Links is world-renowned for good reason, it is simply a stunning place to play golf, and we plan to make a significant investment to ensure that the clubhouse facilities are worthy of this wonderful course and that Dundonald Links becomes one of the finest golf clubs in the UK. As a keen golfer myself, I can’t wait to work with the highly skilled team at Dundonald Links and implement the changes needed in order to achieve this.”