Ailsa Championship Course
The reborn Ailsa Course reopened after extensive redevelopment on 1st June 2016. Long regarded as one of the finest courses in the world, the changes introduced by Donald Trump and Martin Ebert, course architect, have raised The Ailsa to a new level of excellence.
The Ailsa came to international prominence with the famous duel between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson over the four days of the 1977 Open. It was then, in brilliant sunny weather, that a capacity crowd was treated to an exhilarating display of golf from two of the best golfers the world has ever known.
Scene of some of the most memorable moments in Open history, the Ailsa Championship course is a legend in the world game. Watson, Norman, Price, Cink; they’ve all won The Claret Jug, golf’s most coveted trophy here on the Turnberry links.
No hole has been left untouched but the main changes have been to the 4th, 6th, 9th,10th 11th and 14th.
The first 3 holes always a tough opening into the prevailing south west wind have been improved by extending the 1st and the greens of all three holes have been modified to allow extra options for pin positions.
The 4th to 11th hug the coast of The Firth of Clyde and the walk from the 5th green to the new shorter, but demanding, 6th hole provides a stunning view over Turnberry bay to Ailsa Craig, The Isle of Arran and Northern Ireland on a clear day.
The new 9th hole, now a long par 3, with the green adjacent to the iconic lighthouse, now the halfway house, replaces the hogs back fairway. The 10th is now a long par 5 sweeping round the bay to the par 3 11th which has been moved close to the sea.
The 14th now snakes uphill to the green with the lighthouse and Arran as a spectacular backdrop and the finishing hole now extends from the dunes overlooking the sea directly towards the famous hotel providing a stunning finish.
The best just got better.
King Robert the Bruce Championship Course
Martin Ebert, the course architect of the reborn Ailsa, was asked to create the King Robert The Bruce as a virtually new course replacing the former Kintyre as the sister course to the reborn Ailsa course. It occupies largely the same footprint as the old second course, but every hole is either new or significantly modified.
On the first hole, the changes are reasonably subtle, with recognisably the same layout to the hole as that on the former course, but with changes which add substantially to the golf experience. The artificial burn which used to cross the fairway was rather false so it has been filled in and central fairway bunkers have been introduced instead to provide different options for playing the opening par 5.
The overall design concept for the course has been to introduce fairway bunkers with sand faces and marram grass “eyebrow” faces tempting “risk or reward” shots whilst greenside bunkers are shaped and neatly revetted to require perfect recovery shots.
Similar upgrading continued through to the fifth, where a major change has been introduced; an ecological wetland between the 5th and 13th fairways. It already has the effect of transforming the course, replacing the gorse between the holes with a water hazard, which will in time, be further enhanced by new vegetation and by the diversity of birds that will be attracted. It also presents a more testing tee shot and approach for both holes. The character of the sixth and seventh has also been transformed by converting formerly flat ground into links undulations and also the removal of the belt of trees which lined the background ridge.
However, the four completely new holes that have been introduced atop Bain’s Hill underline the claim that this is an entirely different course. By essentially reversing the direction of play of the Kintyre 8th, 9th and 10th holes and re-contouring them to exploit the views to the iconic lighthouse, to Ailsa Craig and to the Isle of Arran, this sequence of holes will make this course a “must play” destination. The new par 5 8th, high above the ocean, quickens the blood in preparation for the vertiginous new 9th with its green perched right on the cliff edge. This is possibly the most exciting green site of both courses at Turnberry and the shot across the valley leading to the ocean will not be for the faint hearted. The par 3,10th requires a shot across its own valley to a beautifully shaped and well protected green, and opens up views to the north over Maidens bay, whilst the 11th has been extended to a par 5 and has the Turnberry lighthouse as its focus from the tee. The 8th and 11th holes now enjoy open views across the whole of the Turnberry resort up to the hotel and clubhouse thanks to the removal of the majority of the tree belt that formerly lined the ridge.
There is still much to savour on the return to the lower part of the course, particularly the 13th, now bounded on the left by the new wetland which, apart from its visual attractiveness offers a strategic challenge. Here, two additional bunkers have been created on the right hand side of the fairway to tighten the challenge. Finally, there is the 18th, an outstanding par 5, demanding the utmost accuracy of approach between myriad bunkers. It provides a classic finish, with its completely reshaped green located below the windows of the welcoming clubhouse ”Duel in the Sun” restaurant.
The 9 hole Arran course has all the challenge’s that the world famous Ailsa and new Kintyre course have to offer, such as undulating greens, tight tee shots, pot bunkers and thick, Scottish rough. The holes are an exciting mixture of par 3’s and 4’s, which are aimed at every standard of golfer, from the novice to the advanced player.
This excellent training ground allows the golfer to receive personalised tuition and to practice a full range of Links shots and techniques, in full view of the famous Turnberry lighthouse.
The Arran is the perfect introduction to Links golf and provides an ideal practice round prior to tackling a magnificent 36 hole complex that for beauty and challenge is unsurpassed.