Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ailsa Golf Course at Turnberry Resort, a British Open legend

The 2009 British Open is now in the books and golfers are looking forward to the PGA Championship, which is hurried along in order to make more room in the schedule to accomodate the $10 million Fed Ex Cup.

The season is going by way too fast for this lover of the sport! I cannot watch four days of phenomenal golf without ever dreaming about what it would be like to visit Turnberry Resort, and play golf on the revered Ailsa Course (pronounced "ale-sa") where Tom Watson nearly made history for the sixth time in his career! I'm sure though, that my score would not reflect my true potential!

Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson's 1977 "Duel in the Sun" brought Ailsa to public view as a golfing destination but it has been the stuff of legends way before that! Read Robert Burns' poem, Tam O'Shanter, and you will begin to immerse yourself in the folklore that surrounded Scotland as early as 1790.

The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last;
The rattling showers rose on the blast;
The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd;
Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd:
That night, a child might understand,
The deil had business on his hand.

Turnberry Resort is a blend of history and golf where you can stare at the sea for hours, play golf at either of two of the leading golf courses in the world and check out the surrounding sights, from Bruce's Castle to Ailsa Craig. But, before you think that heading there is like taking a trip through the past, be aware that Scotland is very much a thriving metropolis, boasting high end retail shops, galleries and museums.

If I'm considering ever flying to Scotland, my main focus will be on the golf and to enjoy what Turnberry has to offer. Carry your sticks and take a walk along with me as I shed a few fast facts about Turnberry Golf Club and the Ailsa Course.

The Ailsa Course and Turnberry Resort sit on 800 acres of beautifully manicured greenery with equally unparalleled vistas of the Irish Sea.

The Ailsa Course was ranked as Britain's number one golf course and the first purposely-planed golfing resort in Britain. As recently as July 15, 2009, Ailsa at Turnberry was ranked the number-one golf course on Scotland's Top 100 list!

Ailsa Craig, also known as "Paddy's Milestone", is two miles in circumference and rises to 1,110 feet. The Craig is actually a volcanic island which was once a haven for Roman Catholics during the 15th century Scottish Reformation.

The lighthouse, was commissioned in 1873 and is the oldest man-made structure on the premises.

Turnberry almost met its demise during the first two World Wars as it was used as a landing strip by the Royal Flying Corps. Can you believe that those verdant fairways were utilized to protect and defend? The acreage also became a base for planes to protect shipping convoys and the golf course we see today is barely reminiscent of its former glory, although Philip Mackenzie Ross did a fine job recreating the Ailsa Course from scratch.

This was Tiger Woods' first year playing at Turnberry and, only for the second time in a major championship as a professional golfer, missed the cut. Tiger admitted that the course was "tough", further noting that "It's a lot more difficult than people are letting on."

Another links course, the Kintyre Course, sits along the shoreline as well, and is meant to round-off Colin Montgomerie's Links Golf Academy, also on the premises. The Academy uses the nine-hole Arran course to teach Montgomerie's philosophy, "You want to get around a golf course in as few shots as possible, and that’s what we at the Academy believe we can teach you." Ah, just like Colin; always thinking positive!

I am going to think positively as well, hoping that one of my future vacations include a visit to this enchanting resort, but, I think I'll skip the Haggis!

The Ladies' British Open Amateur as well as the Scottish Ladies' Amateur were played here as early as 1912. I wonder how the winners, Miss G. Ravenscroft and Miss C. Leitch would describe Turnberry today, as they walked Ailsa?

For further reading check out the Travel Guide Turnberry and look for London Hotels here.

No comments: