Turnberry (Ailsa Course) Golf Club
Turnberry , Ayrshire, Scotland,
Designer: Mackenzie Ross
Championship Length: 6,976 / 6,440 yards
PAR: 70 / 69
While the worldwide recognition commanded by Turnberry is due mostly to the Ailsa Course, it should not be forgotten that the Kintyre Course is also a fine test of golf. With a par of 72 and a championship yardage of 6,583, it is definitely worth playing. A measure of the quality of the Kintyre Course is the fact that it was chosen to act as a qualifying venue for the 2004 Open Championship held at Royal Troon. There is however, little doubt that the jewel in the Turnberry crown is the Ailsa Course, regular host to the Open Championship.
Beginning life as the property of a railway company almost one hundred years ago, Turnberry, having been used as a wartime airfield, was on the verge of extinction by 1946. Cue the timely intervention of course architect Mackenzie Ross, who transformed the property into what has become one of the world’s finest golf courses. More perfectly manicured than most Scottish courses, this coastal stretch of holes, intermingling turbulent dunes and rocky crags, represents links golf at its best. Named after the landmark rock “Ailsa Craig”, the holes from 4 through 11, playing alongside the sea, are among the most beautiful and demanding in the world.
Long regarded as one of the world’s finest courses, the Ailsa Course at Turnberry came to international prominence in 1977, where Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus went head to head for the British Open in what became known as the “Duel in the Sun”. There have been many exciting Open Championships over the years but little compares to the drama of that final day as Watson claimed a one-stroke victory over his great rival. As Hubert Green, who finished 3rd some ten strokes behind Nicklaus, said, “I won the Open – those guys were playing a different tournament”.
With holes framed by sand dunes and flanked by craggy rocks, the imposing Turnberry lighthouse stands stoically bearing witness to the many seafarers who have come to a watery grave off the rugged coastline. The opening three holes, all par fours, represent a tough start and from the short 4th to the 11th, the Ailsa Course follows the rugged coastline. The 454-yard, 9th hole is probably the signature hole, with its remote tee set on a rocky promontory on the edge of the sea, requiring a drive across the corner of the bay. The closing 7 holes, though slightly more inland, are none the easier for that, while holes 15 through 18 can make or break your score. That the weather often changes by the hour only serves to augment the challenge of this superb course.
Glasgow Gailes (60 min); Irvine Bogside (65 min); Kilmarnock Barassie (60 min); Machrie (by air); Machrihanish (by air); Prestwick (50 min); Royal Troon (55 min); Western Gailes (60 min)
RECOMMENDED NEARBY ACCOMMODATION:
Enterkine House (45 min); Glenapp Castle (40 min); Lochgreen House Hotel (50 min); Piersland House Hotel (55 min); Westin Turnberry Resort (on site)
Situated just off the A77 route, less than a mile north of Turnberry and approximately 50 miles southwest of Glasgow City.