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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Sam Hendrix
Turnberry epitomizes what I expected links golf to be on my first trip to GB. Having been several times now, it is still the one course that I tell everyone to make sure and schedule. The whole experience is virtually perfect. Beautiful vistas, first class resort, and a wonderful collection of holes with a marvelous history. This may be the one links course I would choose to play if limited to only one the rest of my life. There are more difficult courses, some with more prestige, and some with more historical significance, but taken as a whole package, Turnberry may be Best in Class in the Overall category. Classic course.
May 10, 2006
10 / 10
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Keith Baxter

Played the delightful Ailsa course at the beginning of April after a long cold winter and the course was looking a bit tired, especially the fairways... balls tend to gather in little hollows and that's where the trouble starts. However, looking through the tired condition, there is no doubt that the Ailsa is a truly world-class course and it will remain etched in my memories forever... I loved it even though my golf game had deserted me that day. Wonderful experience.

April 22, 2006
9 / 10
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Andy Newmarch
One of the truly best courses around, if you can get anywhere near your handicap then hats off to you. First four holes are not too difficult but from the 5th you have got to be playing at your very best. From the 5th to the 10th only the very best golfers will survive; there are 5 x 400+ par 4’s and a 220-yard par 3 on this stretch. Advice is to enjoy the views, enjoy a beer in the hut after the 9th and don’t beat yourself up about your front nine score. Moving off of the coast for most of the back 9 helps with scoring but still nothing can be described as easy. Turnberry is a classic course (looking a tad worn in places though), with my favourite holes being 5th, 9th, 16th and 17th.
April 14, 2006
10 / 10
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Lee Abbey

Ran more as a resort than a golf course and the condition of the Ailsa course showed itself to in pretty poor condition at the start of April with fairways absolutely covered in divot marks (with little sign of repair being carried out - did see them working on one hole but every fairway was suffering) and greens were ok but not good enough for course of this stature. The course itself is excellent - up there with the best I've ever played with some majestic holes both by the coast and in land. It would be great if they could take a couple of the coastal holes from the Kintyre course to make those magic holes around the turn last a bit longer but it doesn't detract from some great golf. Clubhouse facilities are great but the bar food and drink is very expensive for what it is. That said the double brandy at the halfway hut improved my game no end and was well worth £4.

April 10, 2006
10 / 10
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Darren

On a recent trip that began with Prestwick, was followed by Dundonald (the new Loch Lomond course beside Western Gailes) and the Kintyre course, the grand finale was to be the Alisa course. Prestwick and Dundonald were both outstanding courses for different reasons; the Ailsa had a lot to live up to. And boy does it!! Without doubt the most dramatic course I have played to date. I echo the comments of others here on the stretch of holes from 4 to 11. 13 and 14 are OK, but then 15 through to 17 are great again. So have said that holes 1 to 3 are bland. I can see where they are coming from, 4 to 11 are out of this world, but 1 to 3 are still great golf holes. It is a complete course, and I loved every minute of it (even the multiple shots I lost in the burn on 16). Of course, this review will get the top rating available, but this course will become my number 2. It comes second to St Andrews which I have played before, and I shall tell you why. The feeling on the 1st tee! St Andrews has the R&A club house, the museum, its where golf started, Old Tom Morris’ golf shop, and so on. Yes, Turnberry has the Open history, but St Andrews has it by the nose in my eyes. We also stayed in the hotel to take advantage of the reduced green fees. This I highly recommend.

March 30, 2006
10 / 10
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WK
In my honest humble opinion - Turnberrys Ailsa course is the best place to play golf in the entire World.
February 05, 2006
10 / 10
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Jim Robertson
So you play the 1st, 2nd and 3rd and you're thinking 'I thought this was supposed to be a great course' then you stand on the 4th tee, a devilish par 3 with the sea just to your left and these doubts disappear. There follows a magnificent sequence of holes - notably the 5th and 11th - along the shore. OK the later holoes aren't as great (with the notable exception of the 16th) but they are extremely testing and by then you know you're playing a superb course.
February 04, 2006
10 / 10
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Warren K
Un-arguably one of the Greatest Golf Courses in the World. The tranquil setting on a Summers day is simply Heaven on Earth. Perhaps the 4th through to the 10th being the Greatest Stretch of Golf Holes in the World? (alongside the 15th 16th 17th at Cypress Point USA). Nothing else to say except WOW!!!
January 13, 2006
10 / 10
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Geoff-Golfer
The Ailsa course at Turnberry is my favourite course, I first played it nearly 30 years ago and have been in love with it ever since. It is such a great layout and it is a good test of your golfing skills. The views are simply stunning and deserve a look as you play.I think this is a must play course for anyone that is interested in golf, it is really well worth playing.
January 10, 2006
10 / 10
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Richard Smith
I first played the Ailsa course in 1984 and I fell in love with it's beauty and challenge. This is a stunning course that deserves all of its accolades. The seaside holes are unmatched among the great championship courses, and the course is a wonderful test with no weak holes and a variety of challenges that have to be negotiated. That being said, if the wind is not too severe, the course is negotiable for a reasonable golfer. The course has many memorable moments, but certainly the drive off the championship tee on 9 is the highlight. I've even run back there to hit when it was roped off. You have a 240 yard carry over the rocks just to reach a narrow, undulating fairway. Even if you pull that off hitting the green is no bargain. The 10th is almost as spectacular and challenging a hole. This course has no weakness and really becomes steadily more difficult and challenging as the round progresses. I would recommend this course to anyone who enjoys golf, and links golf in particular. I would rate this course in the top five of Scotland with Muirfield, Royal Dornoch, Carnoustie and the Old Course.
November 20, 2005
10 / 10
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