Turnberry (Ailsa)


Turnberry, Ayrshire.
Par 70, 7,211 yards.

Designer: Philip Mackenzie Ross.
Green fees: £190 Mon-Thu, £199 Fri-Sun (£165 all week if staying in the hotel).
Tel: 01655 331000.

Overtaken by the majestic Royal County Down in our GB&I ranking but still No.1 as far as Scotland is concerned, what you get from the Ailsa is the truly spectacular. Famous holes, famous landmarks and famous clashes are at the front of your mind as you play your way round this clifftop links, which reaches a stirring high point around the turn with the legendary holes around the lighthouse. There is a magnificent conclusion too, the par-5 17th offering a chance of an unforgettable birdie before you stride down the 18th fairway and gaze up at the iconic hotel.

Why the Ailsa is No.1 By the top three at the 2009 Open Championship


“Obviously I have a special feeling for Turnberry. I am still filled with pride and honour at having outlasted that field on that golf course four years ago.

“Turnberry is beautiful but if the weather is indifferent, the course becomes very hard and makes you make mistakes – that’s what happened in 2009. The nature of the weather and the breeze means that, if it’s blowing across, there’s no margin for error.

“It’s why the conditions we had in 2009 – classic links conditions – are absolutely ideal for this kind of golf. Not that it’s ideal to play golf in, I mean ideal for the test. This is the way it should be. It blew 15mph, there were no wind delays or anything, nothing goofy, but it was just the perfect amount of wind to challenge us all and see what we had.

“Mentally, playing links golf just requires more patience. You hit good shots that don’t end up good. Or you hit bad shots and end up really bad. It happens to everybody.”


“I have a great fondness for Turnberry. That stretch along the shore is truly awesome – from the 4th to the 9th is magnificent and I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying those holes. When I was back there for The Open in 2009 I was impressed with what they did with 16 and 17, bringing them in line with the way Tour players hit the ball today. The 16th is actually my favourite hole on the course – the second shot in there is perfect. If it is windy you can be hitting 3-wood in there, which is not nice. But I love it.

“Of course, on the Sunday night of that Open I was distraught. It tears your guts out when something like that happens. When the ball was in the air at the 72nd hole I said: ‘Just like ’77’. It was going right at the flag but with the uncertainty of links golf maybe a gust of wind took it a bit further than it was meant to. But that week only increased my love for the place.”


“People say it is a nice course rather than a challenging one but it is still a stern test; the score to get in the play-off in 2009 was two-under. I was one-under and lots of Opens have been won with lower scores.

“The stretch from the 8th is among the most famous in golf. Playing around the lighthouse, and when I did so in contention to win The Open, is as good as it gets.

“The Ailsa is special for everyone. I can remember playing a practice round with Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Sir Nick Faldo and when we got to the 9th there were 30 photographers taking pictures of us on our backswings; those are pictures you look back on with a lot of fondness.

“And you can remember walking down the last looking up at the famous white hotel and the clay roof. It’s an even nicer walk when there are thousands of people lining the fairway and in the stands with the big yellow scoreboards. That’s special.” 


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