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Making Tracks: Turnberry to get major rebuild
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/21/15


Beginning in September, the famous Ailsa course at Turnberry will close for a major renovation and partial restoration of the original features of Scottish architect Willie Fernie's original 1901 design. And if the artist impressions of the renovated course are accurate, real estate developer Donald Trump and English architect Martin Ebert have a delicious redesign in store.

Turnberry, of course, is well-known the site of four Open Championships — the first was the 1977 "Duel in the Sun" between Jack Nicklaus and eventual winner Tom Watson. The Ailsa course also hosted in 1986 (Greg Norman), 1994 (Nick Price), and most recently in 2009, when Stewart Cink upset crowd-favorite Tom Watson in a playoff.

The important thing to remember here is that the current courses are not the originals; twice they were partially plowed under for use as a military hospital and flight training airfield — both in World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945).

Trump and his organization purchased the resort in April of 2014. At the time, he said that any changes to the course would be done in consultation with the R&A — and that is precisely what has happened. In fact, English course architect Martin Ebert of the Mackenzie & Ebert firm advises the R&A on six of the ten courses that are part of the Open Championship rota.

Earlier today at the announcement with Eric Trump, Ebert had this to say about the rebuild:

"We have been very careful to make an in-depth study of the evolution of golf at Turnberry before making these proposals. The re-born Ailsa course will create a much enhanced golfing experience, making even more use of the spectacular landscape and the iconic historic scenes that make Turnberry so special.

"That, in turn, will lead to even more enjoyable golf for everyone and further dramatic championships at Turnberry."
While retaining much of the routing, the overall course length will stretch an additional 150 yards to 7,350. Par will remain at 70.

Among the changes:

  • All greens will be completely rebuilt.

  • The green at the 5th hole will move into a valley between two hills, which will give some golfers a better chance of getting home in two. But for R&A competition, this hole will play as a long par-4. Approach shots here will need to be very tidy, indeed:


  • The 6th will become a shorter par-3, but the original bunker design being restored. With new tee-boxes providing a variety of lines into the hole and over the bunkers, the 6th will be no snoozer:


  • The 9th will change to a 235-yard par-3 with a 200-yard forced carry from the back tee:


  • The 10th will now be a par-5, with the notable "doughnut bunker" being moved closer to the green. As it stands now, it is largely there as a monument to the past and not really in play. The green moves closer to the rocks, for more drama:


  • The 11th is already famous as a par-3 in a gorgeous setting. Now, it will have teeth — a rocky grave gets closer to the left edge of the hole, making it look and play with much more at stake:


  • The 14th will also become a par-5, with the famous lighthouse as the backdrop:


  • The 17th was the easiest hole at the 2009 Open Championship; by changing to a par-4 R&A championship action gets tighter at the end, while allowing for more spectator mounds and viewing areas.

  • The 18th gets a number of improvements, including removal of an artificial dune that obstructed views of the landing area. New tees will be built right on the oceanside dune, while new bunkers will create a conundrum for better golfers. The rebuilt green will have the existing contours, however.



The final tournament to be played over the existing Ailsa Course will be the 2015 Ricoh Women's British Open from July 30 to August 2nd. The course will then close on September 27, 2015; the rebuilt course is expected to open in June of 2016.

One rather nice element of Trump's plans involves repairing and updating the lighthouse for use a halfway house, while providing archaeological investigators the chance to explore and work around the old Turnberry Castle:


From all appearances, Ebert will bring in some missing strategy and make better use of the dramatic landscape, while allowing average players a more pleasant experience. And yet, the R&A will still be able to keep things tough in competition. This writer feels that Dr. Alister Mackenzie himself would be pleased with this approach.

While the final proof will be in the playing, at this point in time Trump and Ebert's plans appear to be the result of careful and diligent planning, in close consultation with the R&A.

Realistically, we cannot expect anything less.


  Ailsa Course Changes booklet

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Images via Trump Turnberry Resort



[ comments ]
ally1957 says:
sounds great but it will be priced out of most peoples range I expect except for special occasions or corporate do's
But then maybe thats the idea
4/23/15
 
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