3 Turnberry Ailsa

Architect: Mackenzie Ross
Stats: 6,493 yds, par 69, SSS 73
GF: £95-£175
Visitor information: Any tees are in play, apart from Championship tees on set dates for championship medals, (members only).
W: turnberry.co.uk
2008 Ranking: 2 (Down 1)
Improvements since 2008 Rankings:
Course: Jan-Feb 09 new bunker on left of fairway on 16th hole
Clubhouse: None
Gallery: Turnberry Ailsa pictures

With views past the iconic white lighthouse and ruins of Bruce’s Castle to the imposing Ailsa Craig, Turnberry’s Ailsa Course is one of the most visually striking in the world. Superb links holes forge out through the dunes to the rugged Ayrshire shoreline then run precariously along the coast before turning for home and the grand white hotel on the hill.

Firm undulating fairways, sloping greens and gaping bunkers are all features, but it’s the natural simplicity of the Ailsa Course that makes it special, the layout blending seamlessly into the terrain.

A number of alterations to the course were made prior to its hosting the Open Championship in 2009. Some 21 new bunkers were added at the landing distance of the longer hitter, the 16th fairway was moved to create a more challenging approach shot and six tees were added. The spectacular new teeing ground at the 10th hole sits on a crag of rock beside Bruce’s Castle, asking players to carry the ball some 220 yards across the beach and sea to reach the fairway.

After opening in 1901, the course at Turnberry quickly became one of Scotland’s best loved links, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1977 that the Open visited for the first time. It was to be one of the most memorable in the history of the Championship. Coming into the final round Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus were tied for the lead. Under perfect blue skies they fought their famous ‘Duel in the Sun’ across the baked links, with Watson running out the eventual winner.

Each Open held at Turnberry has provided great drama and excitement: Greg Norman’s impressive win in 1986; Nick Price wrestling the Claret Jug from Jesper Parnevik’s clutches in 1994; and Tom Watson very nearly pulling off the most incredible fairytale victory in 2009, only to be denied at the final hurdle by Stewart Cink.

Quality of test and design: Improvements to the course before the 2009 Open have heightened the already significant challenge posed by the Ailsa Course. It’s a fabulous links design, each hole memorable in its own right.

Presentation: The significant rest period the Ailsa enjoyed when closed for several months prior to the 2009 Open means the course is now in tip-top condition.

Visual appeal and enjoyment: The setting of Turnberry is hard to beat. Clinging to the Ayrshire coast, the course delivers stunning views of Ailsa Craig, the Isle of Arran and the Kintyre peninsula.

Ambience: Everything about the golfing experience at Turnberry oozes class. Just catching sight of the famous hotel is enough to bring you out in goosebumps even before you set eyes on the course.

Panellists’ comments: “The holes along the sea edge have a naturally rugged appeal that few venues can match”; “What I really love is the balance the course now has”; “A fine challenge whichever tees you play from”

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