The Turnberry Ailsa course is an Open Championship venue which can truly claim to be an iconic setting for golf. The backdrop of the famous hotel, the Turnberry Lighthouse and the island of Ailsa Craig out to sea are all images that are readily identifiable by anyone who has watched an Open at Turnberry, either in person or on the television. Combined with the contributions of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus to the golf history books few serious golfers can be unaware of this venue.
The Ailsa course first came to worldwide attention during the 1977 "Duel in the Sun" when the sun beat down on Scotland all week and Tom Watson defeated Jack Nicklaus by just one stroke, taking the shoot out right down to the last hole. Greg Norman, Nick Price and Stewart Cink are the other Turnberry Open Champions but few will forget Tom Watson's heart-breaking performance in 2009 to almost take his second win here at age 59.
The golf courses at Turnberry were severely damaged by their use as an airbase during the Second World War. It was Philip Mackenzie Ross who was responsible for the re-designed links which opened in 1951. After the first couple of holes the golf course runs along high sand dunes close to the shore and offers some beautiful coastal scenery. The 9th, 10th and 11th are flanked by craggy rocks.
The course signature hole is the 9th, Bruce's Castle, which is probably one of the most photographed holes in golf. The tee is accessible by a narrow path overlooking the bay and the famous Turnberry lighthouse. The initimidating tee shot is across a corner of the bay.
Following extensive course renovations a re-designed Ailsa course opened in summer 2016 to extremely positive reviews.