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.