Trump Turnberry (Ailsa) - Ayrshire & Arran - Scotland

Turnberry was the last venue to be added to the Open Championship rotation. It may have hosted only four Opens but it has become a firm favourite.

Date Winner Country
1977 Tom Watson USA
1986 Greg Norman Australia
1994 Nick Price Zimbabwe
2009 Stewart Cink USA

The Ailsa course at the Turnberry Resort is probably the most scenic Open Championship golf course. Situated on a craggy headland overlooking the small granite island of Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde, with superb views across to the Mull of Kintyre and the Isle of Arran, the course is located in an ideal spot for playing golf.

Turnberry Golf Club was established in 1902 and Willie Fernie of Troon was commissioned by the third Marquess of Ailsa to lay out a championship length course on part of the former Culzean Estate. In 1906, the Turnberry Hotel opened and, in those days, there was even an impressive covered link-way which connected the hotel to the railway station. Wealthy Edwardian guests would not arrive at this hotel wet and bedraggled.

At this time, a 9-hole ladies course and an improved 18-hole course was laid out by A. N. Weir (former head professional at Cruden Bay) for the Glasgow & South Western Railway Company, but three years later, in 1909, the ladies course had disappeared, replaced with holes 1 to 4 of Mr Weir’s new No.1 course. This layout changed its name to the Ailsa in 1926 and a redesign by Major Cecil Hutchison was completed in 1938, when he combined the old 6th and 7th and introduced the famous par three 15th hole.

Turnberry twice came close to extinction; it was requisitioned during both World Wars and used as an airbase. During the Second World War, a number of holes were flattened and turned into expansive concrete runways. It was the tenacity of the then owners that saved the course. Philip Mackenzie Ross was given the task of returning the flattened land back to its former glory. It was a huge task, but in 1951, after two years of intensive work, the links reopened.

Mackenzie Ross did a great job; the highest compliment being paid when, in 1977, the Ailsa course hosted its first Open. The 1977 Open was a classic, notorious for the famous battle between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson. Watson hit an amazing 65 in the last two rounds to beat Nicklaus by one shot. To commemorate this incredible head-to-head tussle, the 18th hole has been renamed the Duel in the Sun.

In the 1986 Open, Greg Norman had an amazing second round in windy conditions. He went out in 32, despite two bogies and had a putt on the 18th for a back nine score of 29. Unfortunately he three-putted, but his round of 63 is still considered to be one of the very best in Open Championship history. He went on to win by five clear shots. The Open returned to Turnberry in 1994 and the Claret Jug was claimed by Nick Price.

The Ailsa course underwent a number of changes under the watchful eyes of design team Mackenzie & Ebert ahead of the 2009 Open Championship. Extensive alterations were made to the 10th, 16th and 17th holes with tweaks made to several other holes. Click here for more.

The 2009 Open Championship was perhaps one of the most exciting events in modern-day history. The whole world focused on 59-year-old Tom Watson who led going into the final round. Watson required a par four on the 72nd hole to win the Open but sadly he couldn’t get up and down from just off the green and made bogey. Watson went on to lose the 4-hole play-off with fellow American Stewart Cink who gladly claimed his first Major title.

Essentially, the Ailsa’s an out and back layout with the prevailing wind usually at your back for the outward nine. The stretch of holes from the 4th to the 11th is thrilling and the scenery breathtaking. The par three 9th begins a genuinely world-class sequence of three holes laid out along the water’s edge where the tee shot at #9 plays across the bay at Turnberry Point to a green beside the lighthouse which serves as a fabulous halfway house grill.

The last four holes are as demanding as you will find anywhere, beginning at the short 15th, which falls away sharply to the right of the green. Wilson’s Burn winds round the front of the next hole, catching anything short of the putting surface, and it's followed by a remodelled par four that replaces the former long, narrow par five hole. The hotel then forms an imposing backdrop to the 18th hole—renamed "Duel in the Sun"—where many a dramatic moment has unfolded in Open championships.

Architect Martin Ebert returned to Turnberry in 2015 to conduct a major update to the Ailsa course: The Ailsa course undergoes a major facelift. Every single hole was upgraded to some degree, primarily involving greens and bunkers. The result of this work has since been met with universal approval, elevating the Ailsa’s already high profile to an entirely different level.

It’s never an easy proposition to play second fiddle to a layout ranked near the summit of the World Top 100, but the new King Robert the Bruce course (formerly known as the Arran and later renamed the Kintyre) re-opened for play in June 2017 after a multi-million pound renovation and it does very well in supporting the illustrious Ailsa at Trump Turnberry.

Trump Turnberry Resort is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World

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Description: The Ailsa course at the Turnberry Resort is probably the most scenic Open Championship golf course. Located right next to the Firth of Clyde, with craggy rocks and superb views across to the Mull of Kintyre... Rating: 9.6 out of 10 Reviews: 98
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Bernhard Koehler
I came to Turnberry on a sunny November day. The course was just amazing, although it was very windy. It was a really great experience to play there.
November 09, 2005
10 / 10
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Adrian Gaspar
My first experience of links golf, and it literally took my breath away. Actually ignited my interest in playing the Top 100 courses because I didn't think it could get any better. OK Royal County Down is, but not by much. For me the whole aura and history of the 'Duel in the sun' followed you round. A memorable experience.
October 03, 2005
10 / 10
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Jim McCann

Played the Ailsa in November 2004.Staff from caddiemaster to starter to waiter at the halfway house cafe to locker room attendant to catering staff were brilliant -- I felt like I was a visiting golf professional.

The course from holes 4 to 12 as it hugs the coastline between the dunes then past the lighthouse is just fabulous.

Remember that old Pro-celebrity golf TV series from the 70s? Aye, this brings it all back. And over the closing holes, who are you going to play, Watson or Nicklaus from 1977?

Wonderfully atmospheric.The Ailsa is a brilliant Scottish golf experience because it and the people who run it make it feel larger than life; try it and see.Turnberry have had an offer for the last two winters, Nov-Jan: bacon roll & coffee, golf on the Ailsa then a 3-course lunch for 79 quid -- fill your boots!

Jim McCann

December 22, 2004
10 / 10
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balatacarter
Turnberry was quite simply a joy. Having played Troon, Carnoustie and Royal Liverpool quite recently Turnberry would be the one I rush back to. The experience of the venue and the course itself are first class. Standing on the back tee at number 9 with the waves crashing is something every lover of links golf should experience. The holes are well designed and testing. I have placed Turnberry as my number two course ever (only behind the sublime Woodhall Spa, Hotchkin) and I urge you, forget the cost, go play it!
November 03, 2004
10 / 10
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Gerrardduncan60
There is not a more spectacular golf course in Scotland, dare I say Britain. It is a fair test of golf and in incredible condition for October. This is a true testament to the game of golf. I played this course in the height of summer and at the end of the season. Both visits were exceptional. When arriving the experience was daunting to begin with but the staff in the Caddie Masters and Locker Room Steward were most welcoming. When checking in for golf at the Professional Shop the Assistant Professional's made me feel as if I was the most important person in the resort. The Tappie Toorie staff were fantastic, compliments also to the chef. The Clubhouse is tremendous. The Tappie Torrie has a spectacular view over the courses that I had the pleasure of enjoying whilst eating my meal. This is a fantastic facility to visit and I would recommend it to anybody. Truely a 5-star facility with exceptional staff and a golf course that is second to none!
October 17, 2004
10 / 10
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Graham Etherington
After a round on the Ailsa I was left a bit bemused. It is meant to be a fantastic course and it certainly has character and history but I felt something was missing. It has been very much overplayed this spring/summer as a result of good marketing by the Western Hotel Chain and it's appearance is now looking shabby. The Monty Driving range was OK but all in all not what I expected. I'll be trying others before returning. Bring on the pipers!
September 19, 2004
6 / 10
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Marc
The course is magnificent and speaks for itself, which is just as well because in every other way Turnberry is a huge disappointment. The staff offers no personal touch, in fact probably care very little whether your visit is enjoyable or not. Professional staff act like prima-donnas and the catering indicative of the mass churn the club endures. Stick to the golf and avoid the facilities at all costs, to ensure your memories of Turnberry do not become as sour as my own
June 24, 2004
4 / 10
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Steve Smith
When Donald Steel's "Classic Links" book was reviewed in the Telegraph in the early nineties, the reviwer contrasted the beauty of Turnberry to the industrial surroundings of my own home course, Seaton Carew, which he nevertheless praised as a gem. When we played here, in benign conditions, my biggest regret was not having my camera for the sunset over Ailsa. Very hospitable, wonderful course, would thoroughly recommend it.
May 26, 2004
10 / 10
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