Site of the 2009 British Open
Situated on a magnificent stretch of the Atlantic coastline, with the gently rolling Scottish countryside at its back, Turnberry - Ailsa Course is unquestionably one of the great resorts of the world.
Fresh in our minds still has to be that brilliant performance by Tom Watson, who almost won another Open Championship at aged 60, but finally ran out of steam in the playoff where he was beaten by Stewart Cink. The Ailsa Course really came into 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 as treated to an exhilarating display of golf from two of the best golfers the world has ever known.
Polls now regularly acknowledge the Ailsa as one of Britain's top three courses, confirmation that gives it eminence worldwide, with regular rankings within the world's top 20 courses.
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 eight 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 premonitory 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.
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