Those who play the Ailsa course at Trump Turnberry golf under the watchful eye of one silent spectator, Ailsa Criag. This half-billion-year-old island presides over the links from the Firth of Clyde. It bore witness to the legendary 1977 “Duel in the Sun” between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, along with every other round of golf played on the course with which it shares a name.
The Ailsa course is one of three at Trump Turnberry, the other two being the 18-hole King Robert the Bruce, formerly known as Kintyre, and the nine-hole Arran. Other amenities include a golf academy, an 18-hole pitch-and-putt course, and a five-star James Miller-designed hotel dating back to 1906, with both lodge and cottage accommodations. Nevertheless, the Ailsa course remains the true jewel in Trump Turnberry’s crown.
The Ailsa course got its name in 1926 when Turnberry reopened following World War I. Turnberry had been a popular golf course and resort since its inception in 1906, but was closed during both World Wars for military use.
There was concern that Turnberry’s golf courses would not reopen after World War II, as a number of holes had been flattened and turned into concrete runways. These concerns were quelled thanks to the then-owners, who tasked Philip Mackenzie Ross with redesigning the Ailsa and Arran courses for the resort’s reopening in 1951.
Though the Ailsa Craig seen today is the same one that provided a magnificent backdrop to the Duel in the Sun, the Ailsa course on the other hand, is not. It’s something better. The current Ailsa course is the vision of Martin Ebert, the architect selected by Turnberry’s newest owner, Donald Trump.
Between 2015 and 2016, alterations were made to practically every corner of the Ailsa course, including the creation of five dramatic and stunning new holes. Now that it’s been polished, the jewel of Turnberry shines even brighter.