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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John McPheson
Played it for the second time and was more impressed than the first time, when I fell in love with it. Can't wait for the Open to return.
September 04, 2007
10 / 10
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stewart
I played Ailsa and Kintyre on a very chilly, overcast and windy day in late March 2007. It was difficult to focus on playing my rounds due to the scenic distraction of the lighthouse and Ailsa Craig and visions of Nicklaus, Watson, Price and Norman running through my head. I was the first one out on Ailsa in the morning and it was interesting to see the architect’s reps out on the course consulting with the workers who are in the process of adding numerous new bunkers and a few tee boxes to make this tough course even tougher and longer for the 2009 Open Championship. The fairways on No.s 16 & 17 are being refurbished. No16 which is normally a 400+ yard par 4 is temporarily set up as a 120 yard par 3 with a temporary tee just in front of the famous elevated false fronted green that slopes down toward a burn. Of course with the workers watching, I hit my shot short and it rolled back down into the burn. I enjoyed the entire course, but the heart of this links is the stretch from # 4 to #12 which includes the beautiful holes along the water.
April 05, 2007
10 / 10
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tom prendergast
played ailsa course on april 1st in sunny windy conditions. This course has everything......paradise. this place is better than Royal County Down
April 04, 2007
10 / 10
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Hambone
Played this course on 2nd Feb with three other trumpets. What a course - first 6 holes are good but the mid stretch from say 8 thro 14 are awesome. Weather was blue skies & no wind which is unheard of at this time of the year. Best course I have played on ahead of Loch Lomond. 80 bucks is steep but worth it however my 7 well earned bucks going on a sausage and egg roll was physical assault.
February 05, 2007
10 / 10
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Dick
August 08, 2007
Do they have choice of tee boxes? If so what yardage did you play? How did you play for $80? thanks
Fuzz
This isn't Scotlands Pebble Beach! Pebble Beach is America's Turnberry! Simply put, this is all in all the purest most amazing place to play golf in the World. The surroundings, the hotel, the history, the sea, the views, and oh the course... Just ooooooze everything most of us play the game for. Standing on the 9th tee from the backs you cannot help but be reminded of the Watson Quote "Turnberry is as close to Heaven on Earth as we golfers get".
January 10, 2007
10 / 10
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Jim Phelps
I have played this course numerouse times over the past three years. It is one of the greatest golfing experiences in my life.I love the courses, the resort, the people and the food. I can't wait for a return visit.
January 08, 2007
10 / 10
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bob
Awesome track with awesome views!!! One of those courses that stick in your mind for several years. Second in Scotland behind Royal Dornoch and not quite as good as Royal County Down. Better than Troon, Muirfield, Old Course and Kingsbarns.
January 06, 2007
10 / 10
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Nick Roy
i also played in october 2006 & was incredibly lucky to get a sunny weekend..quite simply the best links course in the world.....you name it it beats it...definately one to check of the list...planning on doing prestwick, royal troon & turnberry next year over a long weekend...st andrews? wheres that??
December 22, 2006
10 / 10
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Jim McCann
December 22, 2006
Don't forget Western Gailes and Turnberry Kintyre if you get the chance to play them too. Prestwick is an acquired taste for some and for others, Troon only comes to life at half a dozen holes played around the turn. I'll be interested to read your reviews next year!
W
Played in October 2006 and was incredibly lucky with the weather. The course is great – an okay start and then it just gets better and better. Can’t wait to go back again.
October 18, 2006
10 / 10
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Cédric
Didn’t have the greatest weather as it rained the whole time but had a great time anyway. Great layout and very challenging course. The starter gives you a cute little pocket with tees and a stroke saver. That sounds like a minimum when you pay 150 quids for your round but few top courses actually do it so always good to give them credit for that. I can just imagine how it is to play there under the sun with the views that I almost completely missed!!! Strange layout as it is a par 69 from the back tees, but still over 6500 yds!! You’d better be long enough or you won’t see any of the greens on the numerous par 4s until your third shot. Rough in very penalising. Fantastic clubhouse. I would definitely return!!!
September 04, 2006
10 / 10
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