I think I’ve played Turnberry’s Ailsa course two or three times before, most recently on a Wilson Staff media day ahead of the 2009 Open when I had the privilege of playing six holes around the turn with the then defending champion, Padraig Harrington.
Seven years down the line, and it was those very holes around the turn that came sharply into focus again yesterday when I joined a select group of journalists on a preview day to experience the changes to the Ailsa course first-hand at what is now Trump Turnberry Resort a day ahead of the official re-opening.
We were blessed with simply glorious weather to showcase some exceptional changes to a layout that was already regarded as one of the very best in the UK – currently No. 4 in the Golf Monthly Top 100 Courses in the UK & Ireland.
Some had expressed concern about the need to change the holes around the lighthouse that already ranked among the most stunning on the course visually, but having now played them, there is little doubt that the changes implemented under the guidance of highly experienced course architect, Martin Ebert, have taken the course to a whole new level.
The layout now makes the fullest use possible of that dramatic rocky shoreline around the turn, but the 9th, 10th and 11th aren’t the only holes to have undergone a facelift.
Indeed every hole has changed, with every green being relaid to ensure consistency throughout, even those that have essentially stayed in the same place.
Other significant changes have been…
- A hugely strengthened and lengthened 1st hole.
- A much more visually arresting par-3 4th with a long sandy waste area just beyond the tee.
- A severely shortened but more dramatic par-3 6th.
- A re-aligned and lengthened 14th which now plays as a par 5 with the lighthouse much more of a feature.
- A straightened 18th, which now plays from the top of dunes close to the shore straight towards the iconic hotel.
As our hole-by-hole picture sequence video here shows, the changes have turned something that was already stunning into something truly magical.