Turnberry, Ailsa Course Review

18 holes, par 70, 7217 yards. Links.

Turnberry made its mark on the world of golf in 1977 when Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson produced what became known as the Duel in the Sun. Over four glorious sun-kissed days the two giants of the game went head to head over 72 holes. They traded birdies and eagles before Watson eventually emerged as the winner by a single shot.

More than 30 years later he returned to the same course and nearly won it again at the ripe old age of 59.  

Donald Trump, who owns the course, has commissioned some major redesign work of this classic layout. It is difficult to know how it can be improved but, knowing Trump, it will be something extra special.  

Stand on the tee at the seventh, a par five measuring 538 yards, and in the distance you will see the famous Turnberry lighthouse. The hole features a narrow fairway, with two bunkers on the right and a further one on the left. The sloping green is protected by two further deep bunkers.

The ninth is a spectacular par four. It is 450 yards long and has no bunkers. You aim your drive at a stone cairn, but the fairway slopes in both directions so your golf ball could easily finish in the rough even though you may think you have struck the perfect drive. The green has a slope, from right to left, and features a large mound. Remember to stop and look around when you reach the green as you will be able to see the ruins of Robert The Bruce's ancient castle.  

The 14th is 449 yards long, with Ailsa Craig, the bird sanctuary, framing the green. The perfect drive is to the right, avoiding the two well-placed bunkers and the gorse beyond. Take note of the two pot bunkers, one on of either side of the green; they must be missed!  

At 558 yards, the 17th is called 'Lang Whang' and is played to a green in front of the lighthouse, with the sea just beyond.  You need a decent drive to clear the mounds and reach the fairway. Most of the trouble is on the right. If you find the fairway from the tee, you will have to clear a steep ridge and miss two pot bunkers before an approach to a bowl-shaped green that is surrounded by more bunkers.

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Derek Clements

Author, Derek Clements.

Derek Clements is a golf journalist - he has covered many Open Championships and European Tour events, as well as The Masters. Born in Glasgow, he writes for The Sunday Times and Golfshake, and has also written for Today's Golfer, the Daily Mail, Swing by Swing and many other golf websites, magazines and newspapers. He has played golf all over the world and numbers Gleneagles, Kingsbarns and Aldeburgh as his three favourite golf courses in the United Kingdom. He lives in Suffolk, is a member of Waldringfield Golf Club and has a handicap of nine. He had lessons from the late Bob Torrance and has worked with Jean-Jacques Rivet, one of the world's leading golf biomechanists.