Ailsa Golf Course

The 2009 edition of the Open Championship will be hosted by one of the most breathtakingly beautiful links courses in the world, the Ailsa at Westin Turnberry. Long hallowed as a real cracker of a course, traditionally synonymous with championship golf, the Ailsa has already witnessed some of the defining moments in the history of the Open Championship, having hosted the event three times in the past.
Who will ever forget Greg Norman’s remarkable round of 63 that effectively handed him the Claret Jug in 1986, a round that still has the guru’s of the game shaking their heads in amazement and what about the battle of attrition between two legends of the game, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus way back in 1977 that prompted a name change of the 18th to ‘Duel in the Sun’ and let’s not forget Nick Price’s awesome 50-foot eagle putt on the 17th to claim the kudos in 1996!
Ailsa is reminiscent of America’s Pebble Beach and is located on the fringe of the Irish Sea. It sports some of the most glorious views of the Mull of Kintyre and the Isle of Arran but it is a links course with a difference – there are no dunes to protect the holes closest to the sea, turning the course into the ‘monster’ Greg Norman so ably put to the sword.

The Signature Holes

The 6976-yard, Par 69 course has a simple out and back layout with the stiff, prevailing winds generally at your back for the outward nine. The seaside holes, from the 4th to the 11th are really quite thrilling and if the sea breeze is in full swing, the challenge is that much more, but it is arguably the awe inspiring scenery that assists with the duff shot!
The tee-shot from the 4th is really quite nerve-wracking as you have to drive right over the rugged, craggy shoreline to a blind fairway but it is the 454-yard, Par 4 ninth that is the traditional signature hole of the course. Named ‘Bruce’s Castle’, as it meanders past the ruins of King of the Scots, Robert the Bruce’s regal bastion, the hole is particularly trying in the wind. Golf Magazine has featured it in its list of the top 500 golf holes in the world!
The next hole to have achieved notoriety amongst players is the 452-yard 10th, a dogleg left bordering the Irish Sea. The tee shot should not prove to be a problem but it is the second shot that may just be enticed into an island trap 55 yards out, so beware of that huge circle of sand with a nice, manicured bit of fairway slap bang in the centre!
Lastly, it is the 16th that may prove to be your undoing. Dubbed ‘Wee Burn’ the 409-yar par 4 is surrounded by Wilson’s Burn and should you miss the putting surface, then you may well be digging into the deep for your ball!