Our Review - Alisa Course
Restored to the Open Championship rota in 2009 after a 15-year gap because of infrastructure problems – access and accommodation primarily – Turnberry is the most scenically attractive course to stage the competition for the claret jug.
Situated on Scotland’s west coast, south of Ayr, the Ailsa Course (there is also a Kintyre and nine-hole Arran Course) offers a relatively gentle start, a superbly scenic and testing stretch of coastline holes – with views across to Ailsa Craig – and a strong finish.
Turnberry always had its enthusiasts but it was after architect Mackenzie Ross restored them to their best following their use as an airfield in World War II that the world really took notice.
That attention has been even more focused since 1977 when the two greatest golfers of their generation, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, fought out the greatest Open ever seen, the infamous Duel in the Sun, with Watson eventually seizing a one-stroke victory.
Home to the Open Championship 2009.
The 2009 Open Championship was the most recent to be played at Turnberry, one of the most spectacular golf courses in Britain. It was the fourth time that the event was played at the Ayrshire links, and the drama it provided was as unmissable as that witnessed in 1977, 1986 and 1994.
Ailsa Championship Course, venue for the Open Championship of 2009 is long regarded as one of the finest courses in the world. It came to international prominence with the famous duel between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson over the four days of the 1977 Open.
It was then, in brilliant sunny weather, that a capacity crowd was treated to an exhilarating display of golf from two of the best golfers the world has ever known. But in addition to Watson, Greg Norman, Nick Price and most recently Stewart Cink have all won the Claret Jug, golf’s most coveted trophy, here on the Turnberry links.
The first three holes pose a fairly tough opening, particularly when the wind blows from the direction of Ailsa Craig, the dramatic rock 11 miles out to sea. From the admirable short fourth to the short 11th the Ailsa Course follows the shoreline, the fifth to the eighth framed by dunes and the ninth, tenth and eleventh flanked by craggy rocks.
It is a thrilling passage full of stout hitting. Perhaps the ninth is Turnberry’s trademark, the remote tee set on a rocky promontory on the edge of the sea, the drive across the corner of the bay and a glimpse of the site of Bruce’s Castle (Robert the Bruce, Scottish King, 1306-1329). The narrow path to the tee and the tee shot itself are not recommended to those of a nervous disposition. The scenic glories of the Ailsa Course are to be savoured - the granite dome of Ailsa Craig, the low form of the tip of Argyll and the peaks of Arran highlighting the changing patterns of light and shade.
Closer at hand, the lighthouse, and the ninth’s lovely back tee are other symbols of Turnberry, the hole’s title adding an historic echo.
The Alisa Course is simply fantastic and deserves every top ranking it gets. Yes there is history on the course, but its just a fantastic golf course to play and ensures that every golfer walks off with a smile.
We played it during the winter months - it was 0 degrees driving to the course, but because of its situation on the coast, and the gulf stream, it was in fantastic condition. Even it was winter, the condition of the course was fantastic and the greens were excellent.
With well placed bunkers and tough greens, the course is tough, but not too tough for most golfers. With fairways which weave their way through the dunes it feels as if the course has always been there.
I would like to see an update in the club house which felt a little old, but looking at the 18th green was just magical and the food was very good. Great place and must be played.
Favourite Hole: 11
Last Played: 14 March 2012.
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