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Ailsa Turnberry Reborn or Wrecked?

This week Trump Turnberry presented to the media the much talked about changes to the Alisa Course outlined in the visual flyover below.

Given the mixed reaction from the golfing world I thought it only right that I too join the frenzy of opinion, informed or otherwise.

Disclaimer – the one and only time I’ve played the Ailsa was for my 21st birthday under blue skies on a calm summer evening with my twin brther and father. My experience that day puts the Ailsa Course firmly in my top 3 Scotland golf courses.

Overdue TLC

From the hotel to the two golf courses Turnberry was tired and as I outlined in an article I wrote last summer needed tided up. For years the golf was the draw for thousands of golfers from around the world which admittedly helped subsidised the hotel. The acquisition of the resort by Donald Trump was for a cut price (reported £35m) illustrating that the previous regime was far from cashing in. The natural up keep of the hotel can’t be overlooked nor should the resources needed to manage a course with huge volumes of traffic.

Mackenzie & Ebert 

Addressing the media this week alongside Eric Trump was Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert, the architects in charge of  implementing the course improvements. For the sceptics this must be noted as a telling factor. The same architects in the last few years have been handed the shovel to Royal Portrush, adding to their already impressive list of Open rota courses such as Royal Troon and Carnoustie. Closer to home Mackenzie & Ebert this winter overseen work at another classic Scottish links Cruden Bay which is already being warmly received by members and visitors alike. FI ally who could forget their restoration of Tom Morris’ lost golf course of Askernish on the wild and remote Scottish island of South Uist. You’d be hard pushed to find another set of golf architects with such an impressive CV and appreciation for Scottish links.

Change for Changes Sake?

I have a respect for these iconic old links courses which are steeped in golfing folklore but appreciate that such courses like everything should look to evolve. The redesigns along the coast are exciting as are the plans for the 6th, a hole that mystified me when I played. And yes the new vantage points created on the back 9 should bring life to the unassuming stretch of holes in from the shoreline. But when do you stop? I couldn’t help think enough is enough. The infamous course lengthening which Donald Trump appears to believe is an essential aspect to modern course design is somewhat disheartening but all too familiar for tournament venues of today.

To conclude I’m content at the work being undertaken at Turnberry. The improvements were well overdue and will be implemented by those who I admire and trust. The best course improvements are those that go all together unnoticed and compliment the existing features and flow of the course.

Let the reincarnation commence.


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