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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Reviews for Trump Turnberry (Ailsa)

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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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Javier Pintos
The very first impression you get when arriving to the Hotel is big Ailsa Craig watching you all the time, it´s great. Turnberry (Ailsa) Golf Course - photo by reviewerI wanted to stand at the back of 18 where Watson was not able to make up & down to win The Open Championship and there I saw how unfair this game can be: one of the best short games in history was not able to make it!!!!! I was lucky to play the course twice scoring 83-72 from the backest tees they allow you, finishing birdie-birdie the second round. The course gets everything you can look for in Scotland in one: challenge, views, design, excellent shape, variety in golf holes and more. The walk of 4 to tee 13th is maybe the nicest in the Land of Saltire. The only dissapointment is them making you play 7th as a par 4, as when you arrive you wish to play it as closer as the pros do. Hotel is the best and Wildings Restaurant a must visit during the night. Hope to be back!!!!!
October 05, 2011
10 / 10
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B.G. Donaldson
The Ailsa course deserves its high rankings, in my opinion. We played on a bit of a difficult day, in and out of rain gear and the wind blowing at times to a two or three club strength - Scottish golf, in other words. I found no weak holes and most were stunning in their layout and beauty. I have always admired Muirfield and Carnoustie as outstanding courses, and the Ailsa course is their equal, if not a bit better.
September 14, 2011
10 / 10
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Max Monroe
I played here in Nov. 1998 and thought the course was excellent (was fortunate to play off the Tip tees). Pebble Beach is way better but this is still special. It is certainly overrated it is not #1 in Scotland nor even top 10 in the world. Here is my question, if the course was excellent back then why did they triple the bunker population for the last Open? This course may host the Open one week every 10 years and yet the public play it everyday... More bunkers doesn't better a course it only slows down play and says to me you don't believe in the product you have in hand (Carnoustie 1999, Wentworth 2010...?). "Tiger Proofing" courses is what is driving golfers away from the game not making them flock to it. It would be nice if Turnberry hosted some open amateur fixtures.
July 25, 2011
8 / 10
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tim
August 18, 2011
You played the course almost 13 years ago!!! And offer an opinion on what you think it might be like now!!! Amazing. I played the course a month ago in my opinion is THE best course in the UK. Simple.
colin
November 18, 2011
American by any chance? Golfers like you keep people away from the game!
Max Monroe
Championship venue. Nothing more needs to be said about this stunning lay out except it is a must play. Downside to Turnberry is that it is corporate and that detracts from the overall non-existent club experience.
July 23, 2011
10 / 10
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steve guzik
Turnberry is indeed a classy course but I feel it is only just worthy of a 6 ball rating. I do not agree that it is the best in Scotland, 2nd in the UK or 5th in the world. Firstly the condition was pretty scrappy. The greens, although true, were patchy and slightly uneasy on the eye. Some of the rough was untidy and in comparison to the immaculate Royal Troon which we played the day before, Turnberry did not compare favourably. Secondly, I found the card of the course quite bizzare. Off whites, it is a 6700 yard par 69 and there is no par 5 until the 17th. The front 9 contains two sets of VERY similar holes (4 & 6 are almost identical, as are 5,7 &8) although t should be said that these are all very good holes (particularly the 5th). The signature 9th is only truly spectacular from the Championship tees (which are not in play). The back 9 is hard to fault with 15th, 16th and 17th being particular standouts. Dissapointingly, the 18th from the whites is nothing like the hole that the pros play (its completely straight compared to the 90deg dogleg from the championship tees). In summary, no one will be surprised to hear that this is a great golf course, but for me there are several better in Scotland and I find the condition quite inexcusable given the amount of green fee revenue that they recieve.
May 03, 2011
10 / 10
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Al
May 05, 2011
Interesting the way you rated the greens saying they were true but looked patchy i was under the impression on links courses especially looks came second and performance first, this as far as im concerned even paying a premium price for a top end links course is the way it should be.I fear for GB&Is Links courses because more & more peoples perception of a great golf course involves perfect looking turf Which can be a million miles of perfect playing turf!
Alan
May 06, 2011
The rough is untidy! The clue is the name - rough.....
Brendan
November 24, 2011
Al/Alan - would you two happen to be green keepers on the course? The man is entitled to his opinion...
Luke Willmott
Everthing about this venue is first class, from the 5 star service and opulence of the hotel over looking the course, to the luxurious clubhouse and the top quality practice facilities. It is easy to see why this is on the Open rota, the only surprise being it’s only hosted the event four times. Our fourball set out just before noon on a Sunday, with not a sinner behind us which although surprising for a decent late February day, meant we could take our time, savour and enjoy.

The course is punctuated with several strategically placed, deep riveted bunkers on each hole, which, at all cost must be avoided to score well. You really do have to take your medicine and just get out whichever way you can, backwards being best option for me on a couple of occasions. The Ailsa is a far more undulating course than it appears on TV, offering some great views along the coast and pleasing elevated drives at the Par 4 fifth, seventh, eighth and tenth in particular. The ninth tee is rightly the moment to pause, soak up the view and get a photo. It is also the start of the run of three holes most exposed to the wind. Nine, although the only bunkerless hole on the course proved to be probably the most difficult for us with very fresh cross wind.

Throughout the round, none of the holes seemed the same and even the holes playing straight into the wind didn’t come across as a slog – always a good sign of well designed, quality layout. The very names of the holes - Tappie Toorie, Roon The Ben’ and Tickly Tap, evoke childhood memories of watching Pro Celebrity Golf or was it Around with Alliss? All adding to the allure of the place. Particular favourite holes of mine, being 5,10, 16 and 17.

The only criticism I would have of the Ailsa is that from the Trophy tees, which we were playing from, there is no Par 5 to get your teeth into until the 17th. Although, my playing partners and I all agreed it was an absolute belter!! The club has very much a feel of being a resort course rather than a private members club, which makes for a very welcoming atmosphere to the visitor. The complimentary bucket of range balls and the wee gift bag presented on the first tee are a lovely touch and any course looking to charge a three figure green fee should take note of this. Turnberry rightly enjoys a place at the very top of the course rankings. It has everything – top quality facilities, layout, conditioning, scenery and visitor experience. A must for any true golf enthusiast.
March 07, 2011
10 / 10
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alan dunlop
We played the Ailsa at the end of a 3 day break and with all of the expectation our group had it would have been very easy for this to have been a let down but Turnberry lived up to the expectation in everyway. It was a clear friday afternoon and the drive down the coast gave us a few glimpses of the iconic lighthouse and got the heart going! When we arrived in the clubhouse we were given our lockers for the afternoon and pointed to the practice range for a warm up. After loosening up it was off to the first tee with hopes of not thinning the first one into the gorse!! I managed to avoid that and we set off with a blustery wind toughening up the course for the first 10 holes. I cant really add much to what has been written about this course, but it was everything I had hoped for and much much more. Played as well as I could have despite being a bit of a links novice and this was highlighted when a few drives which were supposed to be up the middle were thrown into the deep stuff. I learned my lesson and managed to get round to handicap. Each hole was tough but fair, giving you a chance but anything wild was severely punished. Its so hard to concentrate on playing to the best of your ability whe you are constantly admiring the surroundings, the hotel on the hill, the rugged coastline and the islands kept my head turning despite growing up just up the road in kilmarnock. All 4 of our group agreed that it was the best course we have ever played (or are likely to) and for me three events made this day perfect. A low flying bomber gave us a fly by about 100 feet above our heads on the first green. Chipping in for a birdie 2 on the par 3 maidens and finally on the 18th after finding the fairway I hit a full wedge which landed on the green, almost held on and just trickled over the back. I found myself in the same position as Mr Watson had the previous year. I only managed a 5 but to be honest thats not bad considering the company I am in!
September 26, 2010
10 / 10
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steve grainger
hard to fault in anyway. played on a glorious, windless day and still shot 11 over handicap (7) !Too many great holes to mention them all, but have now played 50 of the top 100 uk courses and this was the best for me..
September 07, 2010
10 / 10
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dittohr
I was playing last week in Ailsa course and I just can say one thing about it: AMAZING!!!Design, fairways, tees, staff treated, practice area, scenery, greens, putting green, clubhouse, etc... Everything perfect!!The views from the pro´s tees must not missed.
August 26, 2010
10 / 10
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Vorndron
Simply Brilliant. Course is tough but fair and having read the reviews on how good holes 4 to 10 are I can only echo this. The scenery is second to none and the facilities are outstanding. The finish does not get the credit it deserves either, 15- a great par 3, 16- a very tough par 4, 17- a great birdie chance at 18 - a great finish in front of the clubhouse and over looked by the hotel. Better than Carnoustie, RCD, St Andrews and Birkdale. Awesome
August 09, 2010
10 / 10
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