Trump Turnberry - Ailsa Course Review
Trump Turnberry is a fan favourite for golfers far and wide, to come and walk on their glorious fairways and greens. Now with two courses, a nine hole and a wee links. It is the Ailsa that attracts golfers from far and wide. The Ailsa course has held four Open Championships, the first was in 1977 and proved to be an all time classic showdown between two of the games greats: Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus - It went down in history as the ‘Duel in the Sun’ and the two battled it out for glory over the final two days. It was Watson who finally edged out Nicklaus by one stroke and finished eleven shots clear of the rest of the field.
In 2009, Watson came close once more, but it was Stewart Cink who eventually prevailed after a four hole playoff. It looked very much like history was repeating itself for Watson when he birdied the 71st hole, but a tired Watson at the ripe old age of 59, and just nine months on from hip replacement surgery, couldn’t hold on to win his sixth Open Championship.
Turnberry Golf Club was opened in 1902 and Willie Fernie of Troon was commissioned to build an 18 hole championship course on part of the Culzean Estate by the Third Marquess of Ailsa. Four years later in 1906 a hotel opened on the grounds. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Turnberry as during both World Wars it was requisitioned, flattened and turned into an Airbase. The old runways are still evident today in between some of the holes. In 1951, Mackenzie Ross was given the responsibility of restoring Turnbery back to its former glory. The hard work that Ross put in paid off when the R & A selected the Ailsa course to host its first Open in 1977.
It wasn’t until 2016 when the Ailsa course was reborn by World renowned architect Martin Ebert. Ebert and the Trump’s, mainly Eric, set about improving on the Championship course improving all holes but with a focus of the ‘bland’ back nine. The primary goal was to take better advantage of its beautiful seaside setting and make more memorable holes for members and visitors alike. Having not played Turnberry pre renovation, it is very hard to compare, however we can say that the course now doesn’t have any weak holes on it. There is true links bunkering with deep pot bunkers and high lips, the fairways are tight and the rough is punishing and greens that feature undulations all over that you would expect from a championship links course.
It is hard to exactly put into words how strong the Ailsa course is from start to finish. It is very much an out and back layout. The first hole is a demanding par 4 first hole that commands an accurate drive and approach to avoid strategically placed bunkers surrounding the fairway and green. The fourth hole starts off an exhilarating eight hole stretch that follows the coastline and takes you on a scenic journey out towards the lighthouse and past. The front nine finishes with arguably the best par 3 in the world of golf. It will challenge the very best golfers and requires a tee shot over the edge of the rocky bay especially from the plates. It is a pinch yourself moment when standing on the tee with the wind off the sea looking towards the green over the rocky edge of the bay and the lighthouse in the eyeline.
A stop at the Halfway ‘Hut’ is a must! The iconic Lighthouse since its renovation includes a full menu where golfers and hotel guests can take in the scenery as well as sharing moments from the front 9. The lighthouse also offers two incredible hotel suites where you can now stay and enjoy some of the most breathtaking golfing views in the World.
The back nine continues along the coastline and starts off with a stunning par 5 that winds along the bay and also features a famous doughnut bunker down the right hand side. It is followed by yet another spectacular par 3 over the edge of rocky cliffs. Another photo opportunity beckons. The 12th hole gets you off the coastline and starts its journey back towards the grand hotel and clubhouse. All the holes have excellently placed bunkers, tough greens and trouble off the fairway. The 16th hole features the ‘Wee Burn’ running across the front of the green, so requires a precision approach or face being in the drink. The 18th takes you back to the clubhouse and was renamed ‘Duel in the Sun’ after the famous showdown of ‘77. Finding the fairway is key to setting yourself up for being on in two. Finishing in front of the Hotel next to the clubhouse and one of the biggest Scottish flags you will have seen is an incredible feeling. Whether you have shot a 73 or 103 it really won’t detract from how much fun you have had on the course along with being stunned at the pure beauty of the Ayrshire coast and breathtaking scenery.
‘The Ailsa course for any true golf nerd is a bucket list course and it certainly didn’t disappoint. From the 1st Tee to the 18th Green you are surrounded by some of the finest scenery and views of any golf course in the country, if not the world. The lighthouse is a truly iconic building and it was incredible to be playing on the very same fairways as the best in the world ( albeit probably less fairways) The course was in pristine condition and an absolute privilege to play.’ - Connor White, Premium Hole19 User.
‘The Ailsa course is truly magnificent. From start to finish you will be in awe of the course and how it intertwines with the natural landscape. It will leave you reaching for your camera hole after hole. Turnberry is pure links golf heaven.’ Max Harvey, Head of Partnerships - Hole19
We have to address the elephant in the room, but leaving all politics aside Turnberry is a very magical place and the new changes that were implemented under Ebert have taken Turnberry to staggering new heights. This is a true links test that will challenge even the very best of golfers. Yes, it comes at a high cost but for a bucket list course it is well worth every penny. From the moment you check in, the staff are incredibly accommodating, friendly and knowledgeable to the moment you walk off 18th green no matter the score you will walk off with a smile on your face. You will be retelling the views and golf for many years to come.
Our final word - Turnberry offers fantastic scenic views across the Ayrshire coastline and is home to one of the most iconic landmarks in the world of golf. Whatever you may think of its owner - you can't argue with the course itself. Simply Stunning. A 10/10 from us.