Turnberry Ailsa

Turnberry, Ayrshire

Par/length: 70/7,201 yards


TEL: 01655 334 032
WEBSITE: www.turnberry.co.uk
GREEN FEE: £190 (twilight £90 from 3.10pm)

DESIGNER: MacKenzie Ross (1949)

DESCRIPTION: The course was showcased at its very best during last year’s Open, where TV cameras on cranes captured the setting beautifully. Most of the first 11 holes play by the sea to the lighthouse, before you turn back to face the imposing Ailsa Craig rock and the iconic white hotel. Tom Watson’s heroics last year merely cemented its reputation as Golf World’s No.1 course in Great Britain & Ireland.

The shot everyone remembers is the drive on the 9th, out by the iconic lighthouse, right on the edge of a cliff, with the waves foaming and crashing below you, and a marker-stone on a hump-backed fairway to aim at.

But, there are plenty of others. The new 10th tee (built before last year’s Open) is almost as spectacular, again on a rocky clifftop above the sea. And that 10th hole (with the polo-mint bunker) was in many people’s ‘Favourite Holes in the World’, even before the new tee was built.

My personal favourite hole is the 5th, a wonderful dog-leg left, with an amphitheatre green. There are few more glorious sights than during an Open, when the banks surrounding this green are jam-packed full of families having picnics, watching the golf.

And the finish is now a real classic, with the new 16th over that magnetic stream, the long 17th (where most of the field couldn’t even reach the fairway in the Amateur Championship a couple of years ago), and the dog-leg 18th, where everyone who plays it will now be looking down at the spot from where Tom Watson played his second shot (and his chip) and thinking they could have done better. But it’s not just the individual holes which makes the Turnberry experience so memorable. It is the newly refurbished five-star hotel, looking down imposingly at you from the hill. It’s the granite birthday cake in the sea (otherwise known as Ailsa Craig) where gannets dive for their breakfast off the rocks, and where every curling stone in the world used to be cut from. It’s the four Opens, two of which (1977 and 2009) have been Championships which will never be forgotten. On a lazy, summer afternoon, it is very difficult to think of a better place to be. – Jock Howard