When Donald Trump requested a major review of Trump Turnberry’s Ailsa course back in 2014, the facility’s consultant architect was more than happy to oblige. “I had already developed plans for the 10th and 11th holes under the previous owners,” reveals Martin Ebert of Mackenzie & Ebert. “I quickly sent them to Mr Trump, who said he would love to make the 9th a spectacular par 3, which worked well with my idea of turning the 10th into a par 5.”
Ebert was also keen on altering the 18th hole. His plan was to remove the existing dog-leg and create a more iconic closing hole that played from a tee on the dunes straight up towards the hotel, but there was one slight problem. Shifting 18 would have a huge impact on a number of other holes. “If Mr Trump could have made the alteration to the 18th in isolation he would have,” says Ebert. “Unfortunately, this was not possible, but I recommended proceeding with the new finishing hole because I believed the changes it prompted would help to solve some of the course’s other issues. For example, moving the 18th tee would enable us to implement the R&A’s request to make more room for spectators around the 17th green. The extra room around 17 would help us to make that hole a tough par 4 rather than an easy par 5. The fact the 17th was now a par 4 would enable us to turn the 14th into a strong par 5 played towards the ocean. And the requirement to reposition the 6th tee would allow us to introduce a short par 3 into the layout.”
Trump was persuaded and also signed off several new tees, a few tweaked greens and some historical restorations. Thus it will be a very different looking Ailsa course that welcomes players when it reopens on June 1. “We recognise the sensitivity of making such significant changes to a Harry Colt design with such great heritage,” admits Ebert. “But when we completed our historical research, we discovered that Colt had redesigned the course and that the modern layout only actually used 16 holes of his design. Given this, I’m convinced he would have taken the same steps we have.”
REDESIGNING AN ICON
The Ailsa course’s new 9th hole is set to become one of the world’s most talked about short holes.
Out With The Old
“The previous 9th hole was very unpopular with golfers of all levels,” says Martin Ebert. “The tee shot was blind, so you had to hit and hope your ball stayed on the fairway, which very few drives did because of its hog’s back nature.”
In With The New
“The carry from the championship tee to the other side of the bay is 200 or so yards, then there’s around 25 yards of approach grass before you reach the green. While the pros can drop a 5-iron dead on the green, most of us can’t. Those 25 yards let us land the ball short and run it onto the green. The three bunkers – two left, one right – catch any errant tee shots. That aside, there are no tricks here. If you hit a well-struck long shot on 9, you will find the green.”
Golf World says…
The Ailsa’s 11-place fall in our Top 100 GB & Ireland ranking shows changes were needed and, while more wide-ranging than expected, Martin Ebert’s tweaks are cleverly thought out, expertly executed and historically sensitive. We expect them to go down well and prompt the Ayrshire giant to rise back up
the 2018 ranking.