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Turnberry

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Turnberry Ailsa Hole 10 Tee

The Turnberry Lighthouse looms over the No. 10 tee of the Ailsa Course in this image. (View Turnberry Ailsa photo gallery)

David Cannon / Getty Images
Turnberry Resort is on the southwest coast of Scotland, in Ayrshire, set in a seaside dunescape next to the Firth of Clyde. The resort has two 18-hole links plus a 9-hole course. One of those links, the Ailsa Course, is one of the best and best-known courses in the world, part of the Open rota and site of many other top tournaments.

The resort's hotel, originally called the Station Hotel, opened just after the turn of the 20th century. It was the first hotel in Britain built specifically as a destination for golfers; for that reason, Turnberry's website refers to the resort as "the world's first golf resort."

As at all links courses, golfers at Turnberry Resort must deal with firm and fast fairways, undulating fairways and greens, deep bunkers and stiff breezes. Playing conditions change with the weather, and the weather changes all the time.

• Address: Turnberry Resort, Maidens Road, KA26 9LT, Turnberry, Ayrshire, Scotland
• Phone: +44.1655.331.000
• Website: turnberry.co.uk

Can I Play Turnberry?

Yes, Turnberry is a resort facility, complete with hotel, spa, restaurants and bars. You can book stay-and-play packages, or just a tee time for a round of golf. Green fees are higher for visitors compared to resort guests; May-September is the "high season" and golf is more expensive during that time. It's cheapest in November-December. Memberships are also available.

Golf Courses at Turnberry

  • Ailsa Course: The Ailsa is the gem of Turnberry, an 18-holer that has hosted many majors. More about Ailsa below.

  • Kintyre Course: The Kintyre is an 18-hole, par-72 layout that plays to 6,921 yards. Like Ailsa, the Kintyre links also offers many holes that play alongside or toward the sea. The British Open final qualifying tournament has been played here.

  • Arran Course: The course now called Arran is a 9-holer inspired as a "teaching course" for the golf pros of the Colin Montgomerie Links Golf Academy, which is part of the Turnberry Resort. It is a par-31 layout with both par-3 and par-4 holes.

There is also a 12-hole pitch-and-putt course on site that is free to play for those staying at the resort.

Turnberry Ailsa Hole 15

The 15th hole on Turnberry's Ailsa Course. (View Turnberry Ailsa photo gallery)

David Cannon / Getty Images

Turnberry Course Origins and Architects

In 1896, Archibald Kennedy (a k a Lord Ailsa) - who owned nearly 80,000 acres of land at Turnberry and was himself a golfer - decided that golf could make money at Turnberry if people could only get there. He decided to build a rail line to provide access, and a golf club as a destination for those commuters.

In 1901, the original Turnberry links, designed by Willie Fernie (winner of the 1883 British Open and club pro at Royal Troon), opened for play. This course, through many alterations, is today's Ailsa Course.

A second Fernie-design links opened in 1909. After World War I it was known as the Arran Course. But in 2001, after being rebuilt by architect Donald Steel, it was renamed to Kintyre.

Both these original layouts were shut down during World Wars I and II, and were essentially destroyed by their wartime uses. The Ailsa reopened following World War II in 1951, after architect Mackenzie Ross refurbished both links. Because of his extensive work rebuilding the Ailsa, it is Ross who is usually credited as the Ailsa's designer.

(There is today another course at Turnberry called Arran, a 9-holer affiliated with Colin Montgomerie's on-site golf academy. It opened in 2002.)

Turnberry Ailsa Pars, Yardages and Hole Names

Here are the pars and hole yardages for Turnberry Ailsa, as listed on the resort's website. Also, hole names are provided in parentheses.

No. 1 - Par 4 - 354 yards (Ailsa Craig)
No. 2 - Par 4 - 428 yards (Mak Siccar)
No. 3 - Par 4 - 489 yards (Blaw Wearie)
No. 4 - Par 3 - 168 yards (Woe-Be-Tide)
No. 5 - Par 4 - 479 yards (Fin Me Oot)
No. 6 - Par 3 - 231 yards (Tappie Toorie)
No. 7 - Par 5 - 538 yards (Roon The Ben)
No. 8 - Par 4 - 454 yards (Goat Fell)
No. 9 - Par 4 - 449 yards (Bruce's Castle)
Out - Par 35 - 3,590 yards
No. 10 - Par 4 - 457 yards (Dinna Fouter)
No. 11 - Par 3 - 175 yards (Maidens)
No. 12 - Par 4 - 447 yards (Monument)
No. 13 - Par 4 - 410 yards (Tickly Tap)
No. 14 - Par 4 - 449 yards (Risk-An-Hope)
No. 15 - Par 3 - 206 yards (Ca' Canny)
No. 16 - Par 4 - 455 yards (Wee Burn)
No. 17 - Par 5 - 558 yards (Lang Whang)
No. 18 - Par 4 - 461 yards (Duel In The Sun)
In - Par 35 - 3,621 yards
Total - Par 70 - 7,211 yards

There are three other sets of tees at the Ailsa. The White are 6,493 yards; the Yellow, 6,100 yards; and the Red, 5,802 yards. The White and Yellow are par-69 for men; the Red are par-75 for women. There are 85 sand bunkers, and the average green size on the Ailsa Course is 6,500 square feet.

Turfgrasses are fescue and bentgrass in the fairways; fescue rough; and a mix of browntop bentgrass, fecsue and poa annua on the greens.

Take a photo tour of all 18 Turnberry Ailsa holes

Notes about a few of those hole names: No. 9 is called Bruce's Castle because the ruins of the castle believed to be the birthplace of Robert the Bruce are visible from the ninth green (also the 10th tee). Robert the Bruce is a Scottish national hero, the king of Scotland from 1306 to 1329 and a fighter for Scottish independence from England.

No. 12 is called Monument because on a hill overlooking the green there is a monument memorializing the airmen stationed at Turnberry who died in World Wars I and II.

And the 18th is called Duel In The Sun because that is the name by which the 1977 British Open is known. Played at Turnberry, it was perhaps the greatest one-on-one duel in golf history, with Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus battling each other shot-for-shot over the final two rounds before Watson won by a stroke.

Turnberry Ailsa Hole 9 - Ailsa Craig

Ailsa Craig off the coast of Turnberry Resort. (View Turnberry Ailsa photo gallery)

David Cannon / Getty Images

Significant Tournaments Hosted

Important tournaments that have taken place at Turnberry (all on the Ailsa Course), and their winners (click on the British Open years to view the final scores and read a recap of those tournaments):
  • 1912 British Ladies Amateur: Gladys Ravenscroft
  • 1921 British Ladies Amateur: Cecil Leitch
  • 1937 British Ladies Amateur: Jessie Anderson
  • 1961 British Amateur: Michael Bonallack
  • 1963 Walker Cup: Team USA
  • 1977 British Open: Tom Watson
  • 1983 British Amateur: Philip Parkin
  • 1986 British Open: Greg Norman
  • 1987 Senior British Open: Neil Coles
  • 1988 Senior British Open: Gary Player
  • 1989 Senior British Open: Bob Charles
  • 1990 Senior British Open: Gary Player
  • 1994 British Open: Nick Price
  • 1996 British Amateur: Warren Bladon
  • 2002 Women's British Open: Karrie Webb
  • 2003 Senior British Open: Tom Watson
  • 2006 Senior British Open: Loren Roberts
  • 2008 British Amateur: Reinier Saxton
  • 2009 British Open: Stewart Cink
  • 2012 Senior British Open: Fred Couples

More Details and Trivia About Turnberry

  • The Ailsa Course takes it name from two sources: Ailsa Craig, the island 11 miles offshore; and Archibald Kennedy, the third Marquess of Ailsa (a k a Lord Ailsa), who owned the land on which The Ailsa was built.

  • Ailsa Craig, the huge rock island that sits 11 miles offshore in the Firth of Clyde, dominates the Turnberry horizon on clear days. For centuries, the craig has served as a quarry for blue hone granite, which is used to make the polished round stones for the sport of curling.

  • The Royal Flying Corps during World War I and Royal Air Force during World War II used Turnberry's fairways for training and the entire area as a base camp. The Turnberry hotel served as a hospital during both wars.

  • Another icon on the grounds of Turnberry Resort is the Turnberry Lighthouse. Construction began in 1873 on a spit of land known as Turnberry Point, and its beacon shone for the first time in 1878. (Its desigers, David and Thomas Stevenson, were relatives of the author Robert Louis Stevenson.) Today, the lighthouse shines every 15 seconds. It is 24 meters tall, and there are 76 steps to climb to reach the top.

  • The Senior British Open was first played in 1987, and Turnberry's Ailsa Course was that tournament's home the first four years of its existence (1987-90).

  • Tom Watson won both the British Open (1977) and Senior British Open (2003) at Turnberry.

  • Watson, at age 60, very nearly won the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. Had he made a short par putt on the 72nd hole, he would have become (by far) the oldest major winner in golf history. But he missed that putt, then lost a playoff to Stewart Cink.

  • Warren Bladon, who later appeared as a cast member on the Golf Channel series The Big Break IV, won the 1996 British Amateur at Turnberry.
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