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Kingdom of the swingers

I am standing on the lush green of an immaculate golf course.

Off in the distance an island sits in a pool of inky blue water. To my left, the manicured fairways of another course stretch to the south, while on my right there is more glistening green, more golf, running north along the coast. Even if you're not a fan of the sport, the quality of the view is undeniable.

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Before you get the wrong idea, I should add that I'm not in some far-flung golf resort but right here in Scotland. Living here it is easy to take this breathtaking beauty for granted but I imagine that for a visitor from overseas this place must feel like a dream. The kind of dream you get out of bed every day and schlep into work for. The notion that, one day, you'll buy a cottage, play some golf, eat nice food and live by the ocean.

The grass is always greener, I guess. To be fair, the grass on Dundonald Links, where I am playing my round, is spectacularly green. Kilmarnock Barassie golf course to the south and Wester Gailes to the north are pretty lush too.

Dundonald Links, you see, is a course with designs on competing with its historic golfing near-neighbours of Royal Troon, Prestwick and Turnberry.

Bought by Loch Lomond golf club in 2003 and designed by highly acclaimed golf course architect Kyle Phillips, Dundonald Links plays like all top golf courses: be brave off the tee and you can set up a reasonably straightforward approach shot to the impossibly smooth greens. Miss the fairway, however, and it's time to reload.

The day I play is calm and sunny, so not the usual blustery conditions on the Ayrshire coast. My playing partner and I are reasonably pleased with the weather and happy with the fact that the group behind are young female golfers - we won't be too rushed, we mumble to each other.

However, when, on the seventh hole, the drive from one of the group behind flies overhead, out-driving us both by a good 50 yards, we hang our heads in shame at such sexist thoughts.

By the ninth tee box we are glad that Dundonald Links offers a ready excuse to allow the young women to play through - a phone box linked to the clubhouse that enables us to order food for collection on our way from the ninth green to the 10th tee box. It all feels very modern.

However, despite the fancy touches, this is a golf course with considerable history. Dundonald, meaning Fort Donald, is named after the ancient fortifications dating back to 500BC that were found on the site of the course. The area was also home to a military base during the Second World War and was used to rehearse the D-Day landings.

Nowadays the only action seen here is purely of a sporting kind, with the course playing host to a number of top tournaments, including the men's Senior British Open Championship.

As a student, I remember being assured that Ayrshire had so many courses it was theoretically possible to play a golf shot from golf course to golf course all the way from Prestwick to Glasgow. Well, after a quick check of Google Maps, I'm pretty sure you can't. However, the fact that I have had to say "pretty sure" rather than be totally confident in my answer will give you some indication of how many golf courses this area boasts.

Even at the hotel where I am staying, Lochgreen House Hotel in Troon, the front door looks out across an Open Championship venue. Sitting among 30 acres of woodland and gardens, Lochgreen is a 100-year-old converted mansion that is the perfect place to relax after a day on the links.

Lochgreen offers more than views across the rolling fairways of Royal Troon, however. The hotel also boasts some of the finest dining in the area, and holds no fewer than three AA Rosettes. I enjoyed drinks in the drawing room before heading through for a decadent dinner in the Tapestry Restaurant.

My room's roll-top bath and four-poster bed were calling by that stage so I turned in for a good night's sleep - the perfect preparation for another day on the fairways.

Thomas Hawkins was a guest of Lochgreen House Hotel in Troon. For bookings visit www.costley-hotels.co.uk. Green fees at Dundonald Links start at £40, www.dundonaldlinks.com

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